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Paul Swain should apologise for handcuff comments

Paul Swain should apologise for handcuff comments

National Party MP Katherine Rich says Paul Swain should apologise after misleading answers to questions in Parliament over the handcuffing of a pregnant prison inmate during labour.

A report by Ombudsman Mel Smith says that using handcuffs on remand prisoner Gwen Stevenson, 26, as she prepared to give birth at Christchurch Women's Hospital last April breached national prison policy.

It was deemed to be 'unreasonable and unwarranted'.

Officers stayed in the delivery room during the April 17 birth - another breach of policy and Stevenson was also restrained during some antenatal and postnatal checks at the hospital.

"On August the 14th Paul Swain told Parliament that 'the inmate was not hand-cuffed during child birth'. When asked whether she was handcuffed while in labour, he repeated the line that 'she was not handcuffed during childbirth'.

"Most mid-wives would tell Mr Swain that being in labour is actually part of childbirth."

In a letter dated June 5, the Corrections Minister also claimed 'there were some minor infringements ... Two female Corrections officers attended the birth ... they were present at the inmate's request, were actively involved during the labour process, did an excellent job, and are very disappointed to find they have been criticised.'

"It's hard to see how those comments stack up in light of the Ombudsman's report.

"Mr Swain should personally apologise to the inmate for his attempts to gloss over her ordeal and deny her rights. He must also explain his earlier answers to the public of New Zealand and the Parliament.

"Most importantly Mr Swain must now stand by his June 20 promise to 'address the issue' should the Ombudsman's inquiry pinpoint failures," says Mrs Rich.

© Scoop Media

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