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Free Legal Advice - Plead "Not Guilty"!


Thursday 11 Sep 2003 Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

Immediate Release: Thursday 11 September 2003

Richard Prebble's Email

From: Richard Prebble
To: Shane Ardern

Plead "Not guilty"!

There is no way that you joining your constituents in a lawful protest against the flatulence tax can be disorderly behaviour in a free society.

As a Member of Parliament you had every right to be in the precincts of Parliament and you most certainly have the right to be on the steps of Parliament.

I personally observed and think I was the closest MP to you when you drove the tractor. While it's many years since I drove a tractor on a farm, it's like riding a bike - you never forget. It was a fine piece of tractor driving and there was no way that anyone, yourself included, was in any danger. The suggestion by the Speaker that some debris was left behind is just more government propaganda.

My advice is that you hire a top Queen's Counsel.

You vigorously defend your right as a Member of Parliament to be in Parliament and your right of free speech.

That you call as witnesses the Prime Minister, Minster Burton, and the Speaker.

* You call the Prime Minister to question her involvement in your prosecution. When she attacked your actions at the press conference, what did she expect? This government appointed the present Police Commissioner and did she expect the police to respond to her clear call to prosecute you? You should ask the Prime Minister why she believes the police did not prosecute her for a clear and admitted case of forgery but she expects the police to prosecute an opposition MP. You should also ask whether the Prime Minister has issued any press statements suggesting the women who disrupted parliament with a GE protest should be prosecuted. Or does the government believe that protesters from their allies the Greens who do disrupt parliament are not engaged in disorderly behaviour, but an MP who did not disrupt parliament but only embarrassed the government over its ridiculous fart tax should be prosecuted?

* You should then call Minister Mark Burton who issued press statements clearly designed to influence the police and ask him all the same questions.

* Then you should call the Speaker. I believe there is no way you would be subject to this prosecution but for the inflammatory and over the top criticisms from the Speaker. The Speaker could have easily said that as an MP you are absolutely entitled to be in Parliament. He could have pointed out that Parliament has its own disciplinary procedures and Parliament is the highest court in the land. If he thinks your behaviour is so outrageous then why did he not summon you to the privileges committee? We both know the reason. There is no way your fellow MPs would ever discipline you for acting on behalf of your constituents.

It is important that you do fight this case. The British House of Commons has in its entranceway a permanent memorial to the Speaker who defied Charles I and his police who came to arrest MPs for speaking out on behalf of their constituents. If police are going to come into parliament and interview MPs who are engaged in free speech, then liberty in New Zealand has been curtailed. It is important that you make a stand on behalf of all MPs and their right no matter how inconvenient to the government to represent the public of New Zealand.


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