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Collegial support not interference

Friday, February 15, 2002 Media Statement

Collegial support not interference

Attorney General Margaret Wilson said this afternoon she is now in a position to make a public statement about the interference allegations made by Richard Prebble against Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton.

“I have now had the opportunity to both read Mr Prebble’s letter and speak to Mr Anderton,” she said. “I find with allegations of this kind it is important to try and ascertain the facts before arriving at a conclusion.”

Margaret Wilson said the essence of Mr Prebble’s allegations is that Mr Anderton has deliberately set out to influence the Employment Tribunal in his reported comments made in support of his colleague Ms Lee.

“Firstly, may I state I have absolute confidence that the Employment Tribunal cannot be influenced by comment by anyone including politicians. Tribunal members have the utmost integrity and my absolute confidence when it comes to upholding the rule of law.

Secondly, I will continue to defend those whose job it is to uphold the law regardless of circumstances.”

Margaret Wilson said upon reading Mr Prebble’s letter she spoke to Mr Anderton who assures her he had no intention of influencing the Tribunal.

“He took legal advice before he made his statement. His comments were in response to media requests for comment while he was travelling on the West Coast. The purpose of his comments was to show solidarity to a colleague.

“While it is unwise to make comment while a case is in progress because of the way they may be interpreted I am assured Mr Anderton had no intention of influencing the Tribunal.

“The quoted remarks do not give rise to the sorts of concerns that would prompt me, as Attorney-General, to publicly caution Mr Anderton. The remarks cannot be seen, to use the words of the Cabinet Manual, ‘as reflecting adversely on the impartiality, personal views or ability of any judge’.”

Margaret Wilson said in the interests of placing the matter beyond doubt the Tribunal will undoubtedly continue with its normal practice of ignoring all comments on the case including those of Mr Prebble.


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