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Master Anthony Christiansen

Master Anthony Christiansen

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson was advised two weeks ago that a complaint had been laid against a Master of the High Court, Anthony Christiansen.

"I asked if he was stepping aside, and was told he was. My understanding is that he did, in the next day or so."

The Attorney General has always followed the process for judicial appointments followed by previous attorneys general.

"It is a good process, but could be better. That's why I've promoted the Judicial Matters Bill, which is currently before select committee."

"Once that's reported back I think we'll have a much better process.

"It has always been my practice to follow advice I've been given, because those who offer the advice are often in a better position to assess the qualifications and suitability of the person for the position.

"A decision is only as good as the advice you get. You have to act on that advice.

"I'm on record over a long period of time as saying I haven't been satisfied with the whole process of complaints against members of the judiciary."

The normal process for such appointments was followed in this instance. The position was advertised, the applicants were subject to a vetting process as to their qualifications for the position.

Master Christiansen was considered the preferred candidate for the position. His appointment was supported by the Chief Justice.

The factors I took into account for agreeing to his appointment were:

his considerable legal expertise - six years on the bench, including three years as executive judge in Napier;
the fact the Master's work dealt with commercial matters;
the fact I was advised there had been no subsequent problems - there was no pattern, and the incident appeared to be a one-off;
the fact that no complaint had been laid with police;
the fact that he was the preferred candidate after an appointment process.

"I had been aware that he had stepped down previously, and this is why I queried whether any complaint to the police had arisen from that incident. When I was told it had not, and that he was the preferred candidate, I agreed to his appointment."

ENDS

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