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Hawkins Should Back Off Victim's Brother

Hawkins Should Back Off Victim's Brother

Stephen Couch should be applauded for refusing to name the police officer who gave him information about RSA triple murderer William Duane Bell - leave Mr Couch out of it, even if the public-spirited police officer has risked his career, ACT New Zealand Crime and Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Stephen Couch - brother of the sole survivor of the RSA killings - has been through enough without the Labour Government breathing down his neck, as though he is a criminal himself.

"It is rank hypocrisy for the Government to threaten and intimidate Mr Couch into giving up the policeman's name so he or she can be punished. Labour claimed great virtue in pushing through the Protected Disclosures (Whistleblower) Act 2000. They aimed it at the private sector, as well as Government departments. But the Government cannot tolerate people blowing the whistle on their own failures. Why is Police Minister Hawkins trying to make an example of this courageous police officer?

"How else would we have known that Corrections Department's management of William Bell's parole was so appalling? It resulted in fatal, vicious crimes. If Labour Ministers applied the same standards to themselves that they inflict on private company directors under OSH, the responsible Ministers (the `directors') could be facing fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"In a matter as serious as this, if the police officer did not follow `correct procedure' for disclosure, the Minister should let it lie. There is enough other crime they don't follow up. Crime is of major concern to all New Zealanders. Ninety-two percent of us voted to overhaul our criminal justice system. Let's praise police officers brave enough to blow the whistle on the risks of the failed parole system," Mr Franks said.

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