Kelburn,King Dick & the Kelly Gang

Chapter 4 Seddon vs Stout

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The author argues that Premier Seddon engineered events to ensure Sir Robert Stout was left with no alternative but to resign from Parliament in February 1898.†† Liquidation proceedings against a group of companies over which Stout presided as Chairman of Directors, and which had dragged on for 18 months were about to reach a turning point.† The liquidation court was due to hear evidence against Stout and his fellow directors alleging woeful mismanagement and misrepresentation in the annual accounts.† The Bank of New Zealand indicated to the court that it intended to try and recoup the huge losses it had sustained and would look to the directors for restitution.

 

Stout understood that if matters proceeded he would almost certainly have been bankrupted, and could also have faced criminal charges.† Under the Companies Act 1882, it was an offence for directors to advance a balance sheet which was in any way false, and which did not disclose the true position of the company.† This was punishable by up to two years imprisonment.† Almost immediately following Stoutís resignation from Parliament, and after the actual court hearing, which was only days away, all legal proceedings by the Bank of New Zealand effectively ceased.Matters languished for several years before all the companies were wound up in 1902.

Richard Seddon

Liberal Premier, established Victoria University and Ďassistedí† his friends involved with Kelburn

Sir Robert Stout, although a fierce opponent of Seddon, became chairman of Victoria University Council, almost certainly with Seddonís supportí† Stoutís actions† significantly assisted†† those developing Kelburn

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The author argues that a secret agreement was reached between Richard Seddon and Sir Robert Stout, whereby in return for Stoutís complete and immediate exit from political life, Seddon halted all legal investigations and protected him from the consequences of the companiesí collapses.† The Bank of New Zealand buried its extensive losses and the matter was conveniently forgotten by all involved.†

 

This section of the book also examines events around the appointment of Stout as Chief Justice in 1899 and shows how he was a compromise candidate when Seddonís first choice was soundly rejected by both the people and the judiciary. It also presents arguments as to why Stout may have been so compromised by his financial situation that his actions as chairman of the Victoria University Council in assisting to have the university located in Kelburn, were dictated by Seddon.