Last night, using the legal protection of parliamentary privilege, Tony Windsor, claimed the deputy prime minister, John Anderson, and Senator Sandy Macdonald sent the businessman, Greg Maguire, to offer him inducements not to recontest his seat .

Today Mr Windsor has told parliament Mr Maguire is a respected and well-regarded businessman in the northern New South Wales city of Tamworth.

And he says it would be a miscarriage of justice if Mr Maguire were to suffer while Mr Anderson and Mr Macdonald escaped without reprimand.

“Even though this man is in the spotlight at the moment because of the structure of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, in my view he has committed no sin.

“I think it would be a great travesty of justice if the real villains in this case, the ones who are the architects of the message, were allowed to flutter off into the sunset.”

Mr Windsor says the Prime Minister, John Howard, did not know of the alleged offer at the time it was first made in May.

Meanwhile, Mr Howard says he retains full confidence in Mr Anderson.

But the Opposition leader, Mark Latham, says many questions remain that Mr Anderson needs to answer.

“He hasn’t given us the full detail of what was discussed in his three or four meetings with Greg Maguire.

“Did they talk about the political future of Tony Windsor?

“Did they talk about ways in which Mr Windsor might leave the parliament?

“Mr Anderson hasn’t provided the detail of what was discussed at these three or four meetings and until he does that the public won’t have a clear mind about what’s actually happened.”

Mr Anderson and Senator Macdonald strenuously deny Mr Windsor’s allegations.