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John Banks loses bid for court costs

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/07/2016
John Banks. © Getty Images John Banks.

A bid by former Auckland mayor John Banks to claim back $190,000 in legal costs over a quashed conviction has been rejected.

The Court of Appeal last year ruled Mr Banks would be acquitted and wouldn't face retrial over charges he falsely declared donations from tech mogul Kim Dotcom to his failed 2010 mayoralty campaign as anonymous.

His lawyers this month asked the High Court at Auckland to award Mr Banks $190,000 to cover his legal expenses during the case, saying he had suffered a "great injustice" due to a flawed prosecution based on "fabricated evidence".

But in a ruling released on Thursday, Justice Edwin Wylie said Mr Banks had not met the threshold to be awarded costs.

"In my view, the Crown's investigation into the offence charged was conducted in a reasonable and proper manner, and by reference to the material which was before it at all relevant times," he said.

During the original trial Mr Dotcom and his wife, Mona, told the court Mr Banks had asked for their $50,000 donation to be split, so it could be kept anonymous, during a lunch at the German internet tycoon's Coatesville mansion.

Kim Dotcom © Getty Kim Dotcom

Justice Wylie accepted their evidence over that of Mr Banks' wife, Amanda - who said two American businessman were present at the lunch and could prove the talk never happened - calling her an unreliable witness.

Although he repeated an earlier apology to Ms Banks in his ruling on Thursday - saying he had made a mistake and acknowledged it had caused her "significant embarrassment and distress" - he said it was too far to say evidence had been "fabricated".

At best, it could be said that the Dotcoms' evidence at trial was inconsistent with the affidavits of the two American businessmen.

The two Americans, David Schaeffer and Jeffery Karnes, were eventually found and signed statements saying the only thing that had been discussed was Mr Dotcom's former business Megaupload and a fibre optic cable between the United States and New Zealand.

The mansion in Coatesville, Auckland © Reuters The mansion in Coatesville, Auckland

JOHN BANKS HAS HAD HIS BID FOR LEGAL COSTS OVER HIS QUASHED CONVICTION REJECTED. SO HOW DID IT GET HERE?

* June 2010: Mr Banks visits Kim Dotcom's Coatesville mansion; Mr Dotcom signs two $25,000 cheques for Mr Banks' Auckland City mayoral campaign, which eventually failed

* May 2013: Serial litigant Graham McCready brings private prosecution against Mr Banks after police decide not to lay charges

* October 2013: Mr Banks, now in parliament as leader of the government-allied ACT Party, resigns his ministerial portfolios; solicitor-general takes over the case

* May 2014: 10-day judge-alone trial in the High Court at Auckland, after which Mr Banks found guilty of a charge of knowingly filing a false electoral return

* June 2014: Mr Banks resigns as an MP

* November 2014: Mr Banks' conviction quashed and retrial ordered

* May 2015: Court of Appeal recalls decision to order a retrial, Mr Banks acquitted

* July 2016: Mr Banks' claim for $190,000 in legal costs over the quashed conviction is turned down by the High Court at Auckland


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