A group of Exclusive Brethren members spent $1.2 million on anti-Labour and Green Party pamphlets and hired private investigators to follow Prime Minister Helen Clark and her husband.
A newly appointed spokesperson for the reclusive religious group describes the foray into politics in New Zealand as a nightmare.
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Tony McCorkell says there was no Exclusive Brethren-sponsored involvement and it was the action of individuals.
Mr McCorkill says the group does not dictate that members cannot be involved in politics, so whether they involve themselves again is an individual matter.
Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is sceptical that the Exclusive Brethren will no longer involve itself in politics.
Miss Clark says she is not inclined to believe individuals were responsible, or that it will not happen again.
Labour Party president Mike Williams says the statement is not credible, given an explosion of such campaigning in Australia and Sweden.
He says he views the statement as a directive from the head of the church to stay out of politics, which he welcomes.
Greens doubt statement
The Green Party says it doubts the statement.
Party co-leader Russell Norman says the pattern of the church’s global campaign against green parties and in favour of conservative politicians, suggests a coordinated campaign in the 2005 election.
Mr Norman told Morning Report that he expects the Exclusive Brethren will be involved in next year’s election.
He says he would not want the group to be excluded from the democratic process, but their involvement should be transparent, and there should be a cap on how much money they spend.
Research Nicky Hager, who wrote a book The Hollow Men which detailed links between the church and the National Party, says the statement lacks credibility.
Mr Hager told Morning Report there is no evidence that the church did not send instructions to members.
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