Facing trial on charges of filing a false election return, ACT Party Leader John Banks has entered a plea of insanity, arguing that no clear-headed observer could reasonably claim that he was, at any point, in his right mind.
Mr. Banks’ lawyer, David Jones, QC, told media this afternoon that his client was not capable of deliberately filing a false return, as he had not even read the document he signed, and even if he had, he would not know what it meant.
“Mr. Banks has proven, on numerous occasions, in public and in private, that he is not capable of sound judgement,” argued Jones. “He believes that the Earth was created in six days, that Maori and Polynesians commit crime because they receive benefit money, and this year, without coherent explanation, he voted to legalise same-sex marriage, having previously voted against the legalisation of homosexuality. It goes without saying that this is not the behaviour of someone who knows what they’re doing.
“Furthermore, it is important to understand that Mr. Banks has been elected to his position of power by accident, and thus he cannot be expected to be adequately prepared for the responsibilities his office entails.
“In 2011, my client was elevated to a position he could never otherwise have attained by then-ACT leader Don Brash, who received so few votes he could not enter Parliament with Mr. Banks, and secondly by Prime Minister John Key, who instructed Epsom voters not to vote for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith.
“This is not uncharacteristic of Mr. Banks, who has always required help in performing day-to-day tasks, let alone conducting large operations such as a campaign.
“In summary, Mr. Banks could not have willfully disregarded the law in this case, as he is demonstrably incapable of determining right from wrong.”
Jones noted that, several years ago, Banks had been diagnosed with a serious illness known as being the Mayor of Auckland.
Judge Phil Gittos said the insanity plea would be considered in due course, but in the meantime, has cautioned Banks against deliberately doing “lots of crazy things” in the coming days, as “that would be fairly transparent at this point.”