PM's Presser- The Waitara Shooting
The government would not pass emergency laws to protect the name of the police officer involved in the Waitara shooting, as the move could possibly be unconstitutional Attorney General Margaret Wilson said today.
Speaking at the weekly Parliamentary Press Conference, Ms Wilson said any Government move to immediately introduce emergency legislation protecting the man might be “…against the public interest, which would become close to being unconstitutional.”
Her comments came after the New Zealand Herald newspaper won its appeal challenging the name suppression of the policeman. Police have decided not to file a counter appeal, leaving the newspaper free to publish his name.
The Herald’s move has caused concern for Opposition leader Jenny Shipley. She has called on the Government to pass emergency laws to protect the identity of police officers involved in shootings. She has also appealed to other media to maintain the voluntary silence. Police are echoing her concerns.
In reply to Mrs Shipley’s comments, Ms Wilson said she was comfortable to let the current system deal with the case.
Because of public concerns about the independence of a police inquiry she said the Solicitor General would scrutinize the results of the homicide investigation.
In the past news media have voluntarily concealed the identity of police involved in fatal shootings until inquiries are completed.
Meanwhile other main news media - Television New Zealand, Radio New Zealand and INL Newspapers - have agreed to continue not to reveal the man’s name.
Also questioned over the affair, Prime Minister Helen Clark said she had full confidence in the independence of the police homicide investigation.
She said the Government may focus a later public inquiry into legal issues surrounding the name suppression of police officers.
The inquiry would focus on the role of police procedure and “shoot to kill issues” and would be unlikely to dwell on the other specific details of the Waitara case, she said.
The Government was yet to decide on what form
the inquiry would take.