Political donations trial: Jami-Lee Ross lied to SFO to implicate Simon Bridges, court hears

Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross. Photo/RNZ, Simon Rogers


Lawyer for former National MP Jami-Lee Ross has told the Auckland High Court that his client lied to the Serious Fraud Office in a bid to implicate former National leader Simon Bridges.

Ross and six others are charged with alleged fraudulent political donations.

The SFO brought charges claiming the defendants helped split one or more of the three major donations to the Labor and National parties into smaller amounts to hide the true donor from public scrutiny.

In his final submissions, Ron Mansfield QC said Ross’ confession to the SFO was unreliable and a lie, describing his actions as suicide bombers.

“The Urban Dictionary describes the suicide bomber by way of action as a complete and utter disregard for logic or rational thought. ”

He said Ross was seeking revenge after he felt Bridges failed to promote him as planned and it ended in him being forced out of the party.

”What we see is a desire on his part to bring down Bridges and to ensure that if he, Ross were forced out of Parliament, it would do equal damage to Bridges, his position and his position. reputation. ”

Mansfield said that although, on the face of it, the SFO had what appeared to be an admission by Ross of participating in a fraud, an investigation into the background behind the confession shows it to be unreliable.

He told the court it was unusual for a lawyer to describe his client as someone who lied.

“But I do and it’s because it’s obvious Ross lied.”

“The very statements on which the SFO relies against him can be described simply as lies.”

Mansfield said Ross was Bridges’ numbers man in terms of rallying caucus support for his leadership.

He said Ross was waiting and was promised a promotion for it, but he was not given the role of Shadow Leader of the House and he felt betrayed.

”Ross replied (to Bridges): ‘My head is telling me to suck it but my heart is telling me to go kamikaze. The head wins, I’m going to suck it.”’

”That’s the first lie. The greatest respect to Mr. Ross, there is the first lie to Mr. Bridges because the head did not win, the heart won.

Mansfield said it was abundantly clear from that point that while Ross presented himself outwardly as loyal and internally as Bridges’ trusted team, the reality was such that he put himself to seek to destroy the confidence that others within the National Party had in Bridges. and also public confidence in his leadership.

Mansfield said information leaked to the media by Ross about Bridges caused Bridges significant political embarrassment.

He said Ross suffered from mental health issues at the time.

”Ross was prepared to lie in order to save his position in the National Party and his position in the House in the first place, but when that was not possible, as we see in the evidence, to lie in order to further his desire for revenge on Bridges and if he should go, so will Bridges.

“The only way for him to cause destruction or damage to Bridges was to take himself down, getting involved as well.”

Mansfield said that was when Ross claimed that Bridges requested that he (Ross) receive and separate a donation from a donor so that it could be misstated in a way that the public is not aware of the gift or the donor.

“In reality, given the desire to destroy Bridges, Ross obviously had to be involved or implicated in said fraud and that is what he sought to do.”

” What I hope is very clear from the evidence, rather unfortunately for Ross is the reality that when he made this admission he cared little about himself and therefore whether it was a confession against his own interests.

”He was obsessed with seeking revenge.”

The seven-week trial is now over, with Judge Gault having reserved his decision.