Christmas Cheer In Short Supply From PM's Security Detail At Green Parrot
Story by Mark Williams and Alastair Thompson
Two unemployed men who claim Prime Minister John Key agreed to "spring for" their meal at the famed political watering hole The Green Parrot on Monday night, instead found themselves arrested for theft, forcibly removed from the building and locked in jail.
The two men, Kent Boyd and Andre Jellema (who tell their story via Youtube video above), both unemployed, were enjoying what they describe as their one night out a year - for Christmas - when they encountered the PM and his Diplomatic Protection Squad officers in Wellington's Green Parrot café bar.
Mr Boyd and Mr Jellema say they decided that they would approach the DPS and ask if the PM would be willing to take a photo with them. Mr Boyd said he is a fan of John Key and voted for him at the last election.
The DPS declined (allegedly somewhat impolitely) but the men approached the PM directly and asked him instead.
He was much more obliging and they took this picture.
Boyd and Jellema with PM John Key
Several other restaurant patrons then also asked for pictures with the PM and he very obligingly agreed to do so.
According to Kent Boyd after this was all over the PM - who was sitting around 10 feet away from them - asked them what they did for jobs. At which point they told him they were unemployed.
"I told him that this was my special night out and then asked him if he would be willing to spring for our meal," Mr Boyd told Scoop.
According to Boyd the PM replied, "absolutely".
But when they said to the manager that the PM was picking up the tab for the meal, the manager disputed this and spoke to the security officers. Moments later Boyd and Jellema were grabbed had their arms pushed behind their backs and were taken outside to separate locations. The DPS officers who grabbed them then called in a further six uniformed police officers who arrested them for breach of their respective bail conditions. These require them to not be drunk in public - in the case of Boyd, or in the case of Jellema to not drink at all.
Boyd says that he offered to pay for the meal in the hope that he would then be let go but this was refused.
The two men then spent the night in the cells and when they appeared in court the following day found they had also been charged with theft for the $82 cost of their meal.
Mr Jellema confirmed that his bail conditions included not drinking alcohol and that he was therefore in breach, but Mr Boyd said that his bail conditions were that he was not drunk and had only had one consumed one beer while eating at the Green Parrot. Both expressed astonishment that they were then faced with theft charges related to the meal.
In the video passage below Boyd explains what he plans to do next.
Asked whether the PM could confirm or deny that he had agreed to"spring for" the two men's meals a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said, "this is a matter for the police and we have no comment to make." ( UPDATE 5.10pm 21/12/12: "The PM was never asked to pay, nor did he offer to pay for these meals.")
The Police inspector in charge of the Diplomatic Protection Squad was similarly unwilling to comment on the incident saying initially that it was before the court and that he could therefore not comment on it, but then later that he didn't actually know whether the PM had agreed to "spring for " the meal or not.
Mr Boyd's lawyer Wellington Barrister Keith Jeffries says the incident smacks of a Dad's Army comedy sketch.
"On the basis of their story it was a massive over-reaction by the security detail, all they needed to do was ask John Key if he had agreed to pay for the meal or not. Then after Mr Boyd offered to pay for the meal they wouldn't let him do so, that seems unfair.
"I would describe it as an absolute comedy with the tragedy being that someone had to be detained in a cell over night for it."