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New Zealand Herald

Samuels Allegations - Probation Officers Sacked - God At Starship- Utu In Parliament - Police Investigation - Disease Winter - Labour Leads - Todd Media Plea - Super 12 Rugby - Deserter Protests - Men’s Club - Drug Deportation - Rima Exits - Axe Killer Heard Voices

SAMUELS ALLEGATIONS: A criminal investigation into sexual allegations against Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels will concentrate on how old a teenage lover was when she had an abortion. Mr Samuels, now aged 60, and the woman, understood to be now aged 31, became sexually involved in the 1980s in the Far North.

PROBATION OFFICERS SACKED: Two probation officers at the centre of drugs-for-favours allegations were sacked yesterday after an internal investigation. However, the women's union, the Public Service Association, labelled the investigation by two managers from the Department of Corrections flawed and unfair.

GOD AT STARSHIP: God is not welcome in the corridors of Starship hospital - unless he comes with a warning. A children's theatre group is accusing the country's only dedicated children's hospital of banning God, forcing changes to its performance of the Oscar Wilde story The Happy Prince. Starship spokesman Andrew Young said the hospital suggested

UTU IN PARLIAMENT: The stench of utu hung heavy in Parliament yesterday. It was ugly stuff. It was not merely the astonishing sight of an MP having to physically restrain the Minister of Maori Affairs, Dover Samuels, after he shuffled across the chamber to silently, but furiously, eyeball Act leader Richard Prebble.

POLICE INVESTIGATION: Dover Samuels will return to his Maori Affairs job if no criminal charges are laid against him over a sexual relationship with a teenager, Prime Minister Helen Clark said last night. If not, Labour may face a byelection little more than six months after taking office.

DISEASE WINTER: A family of six from South Auckland were treated for meningococcal disease yesterday as Middlemore Hospital braces itself for what looks like one of its worst winters. They were among a record 242 people who turned up to the emergency department on Tuesday, the most patients seen in any 24-hour period.

LABOUR LEADS: Labour's standing in the polls has slipped from the levels of its first 100 days, but the party still leads by a substantial margin in a Herald DigiPoll survey taken since the Budget. However, the other party in the Government, the Alliance, continues the slide that has already prompted it to make potentially troublesome moves to distinguish itself from its Coalition partner.

TODD MEDIA PLEA: Olympic champion Mark Todd has asked to be left alone to get on with his life, after a British newspaper alleged he took cocaine with a gay lover. Todd met his lawyers in London yesterday over the article in the Sunday Mirror, headed "Sordid Drug Shame," but refused to comment other than to thank his supporters.

SUPER 12 RUGBY: Rugby fans have been left out of pocket by at least $180,000 as they wait for cheques to arrive from a Super 12 competition. Ultimate Rugby, a game where people were able to pick and trade their own Super 12 team from across the competition, ran during the recent Super 12 season and attracted nearly 3000 players.

DESERTER PROTESTS: A major in the New Zealand Army says he is being unjustly detained after being arrested for desertion. Major Pedro van der Ent spoke to the Herald by cellphone last night from Trentham Army Camp, where he is under house arrest.

MEN’S CLUB: Te Kuiti is a "man's town" and the men who drink at its Quota Club are in no hurry to allow women as members. The Quota Club is one of two chartered clubs left in New Zealand which retain the tradition of having only men as members.

DRUG DEPORTATION: Lawyers seeking to have an Auckland man extradited to the United States say the credibility of witnesses should be determined by cross-examination in a trial and not judged at an extradition hearing. US detectives claim that Hing Hung Wong, aged 37, said to be the deputy chief of an Asian drug cartel, masterminded a 486kg shipment of heroin that was busted by Californian customs agents in 1991 - at that time the biggest seizure in US history.

RIMA EXITS: Actor Rima Te Wiata walked out in the middle of the play Woman Far Walking in frustration, after three cellphones rang and two pagers beeped in the audience. The last straw was when Te Wiata was distracted by a man in the second row eating sweets, said Anna Robertshawe, business manager for the theatre company, Taki Rua Productions.

AXE KILLER HEARD VOICES: Axe killer Lachlan Jones told mental health staff that he heard a voice on television telling him to murder someone, but convinced them that he knew it was just his "mind playing tricks" and could ignore it. Three of the Waitemata Health professionals who dealt directly with Jones in the months before he murdered his landlord, Malcolm Beggs, before gassing himself last August, gave evidence before a coroner's inquest yesterday.

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