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Greg O'Connor Needs To Sort Out His Story - Nandor

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today criticised Police Association President Greg O'Connor for saying police would not change the way they behave following a district court judgement last week critical of police abuse of their search and seizure powers.

In a landmark judgement Judge Phil Gittos threw out charges of cannabis possession against Chris Fowlie saying that the 'sweep' by a team policing unit in Auckland during which Fowlie was approached and searched contravened the Bill of Rights.

In his 10 page judgement Judge Gittos said: 'In the case before me there was no evidence to indicate to the police that the Defendant and his companion were doing or contemplating anything illegal... There was no reason at all to approach these two men and require them to give some account of themselves. In my judgement it was unreasonable to do so.'

'The circumstances overall leave an uncomfortable perception that the conduct of what Constable Hoshek described as a "sweep" by a Team Policing Unit may involve Officers engineering opportunities to conduct personal searches of persons minding their own business in a public street at random or on a purely speculative basis. It needs hardly be said that such conduct would manifestly contravene the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.'

Nandor said it was a disgrace that Greg O'Connor had rejected the judges findings. Mr O'Connor was reported yesterday as saying he thought police were justified to search Mr Fowlie and that the finding 'doesn't mean much at all - it doesn't change anything at all'.

"Mr O'Connor's denial that police search people because of how they look is at odds with this judgement and, surprisingly, at odds with his own past comments. He also contradicted a police spokesperson who said police would take on board and respect this judgement and that it could lead to a review of how much evidence was needed to stop and search people," said Nandor.

Mr O'Connor told the Health Select Committee last year that Nandor had probably been searched by police before he was an MP because his appearance could have led police to believe he was carrying a knife.

"Mr O'Connor has admitted that police abuse the emergency powers of search provided in the Misuse of Drugs Act and that they target people because of how they look [article attached]. He has since changed his story and said police don't do this. This landmark judgement shows once again that they do," said Nandor.

"Police behaviour in the Fowlie case clearly breached the Bill of Rights yet Greg O'Connor is defending that behaviour. The judgement is clear in its condemnation of police practice. Greg O'Connor does not seem to realise that this is simply not acceptable and it is a serious concern that a man in his position can't see that," said Nandor.

"Mr O'Connor should respect this judgement and lead a change of attitude and culture within the police. Police should protect the rights of ordinary people and focus on solving real crime rather than wasting scarce police resources on harassing people with random 'sweeps' to 'find out what they are doing'."

Ends


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