Former National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross agrees to destroy ‘leaked’ SFO documents

Former National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross has agreed to destroy the electronic copy of the Serious Fraud Office documents inadvertently “leaked” to him.

Last year the SFO took urgent court action against the former Botany representative to prevent him from publishing the legally sensitive material, the Herald and Newstalk ZB first reported.

Ross, who is facing SFO charges over allegations relating to two National Party donations, stood in the House on July 29 and waved in the air documents he claimed came into his possession via a “leak”.

“I have before me here, 60,000-odd line items of donations that are from the National Party,” he said.

The documents contained confidential information regarding donors to the National Party in 2017 and 2018. The SFO said it did not become aware of the error until July 26, when Ross reported he was in possession of the documents.

The SFO sought and was granted an urgent injunction to prevent the public release of the material it said had been “inadvertently disclosed” on May 12 to Ross and the three other in the criminal case.

The High Court also instructed Ross to effectively shred or burn the documents and “refrain from referring to, making any use of, or further disclosing the documents”.

But Ross, who campaigned for the 2020 election with the minor and controversial party Advance NZ, asserted the material was subject to the Parliamentary privilege and he could not be ordered to destroy them.

Today, however, the SFO announced the government department and Ross have reached an agreement.

“Rather than continue to litigate the merits of that issue, however, the parties have reached a resolution, under which Mr Ross has agreed to destroy the electronic copy of the documents in his possession and to provide the hard copy to his counsel so that they can be held securely and only released (with prior notice to the SFO) for a proper purpose,” the SFO said.

It added as a consequence of the resolution, the parties have also agreed the High Court should rescind the initial order made by Justice Pheroze Jagose on July 29.

Ross’ criminal charges were laid in January last year, alongside brothers and businessmen Shijia (Colin) Zheng and Hengjia (Joe) Zheng, and New Zealand Order of Merit recipient Yikun Zhang.

All four men have denied the allegations against them over donations of $100,000 in 2017 and $100,050 in 2018.

A trial in the High Court at Auckland is due to be held in September.

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