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PM should face contempt of court charge

PM should face contempt of court charge

The Attorney-General should consider the Prime Minister's critical comments of Judge Wickliffe as a contempt of court, says National's Justice Spokesman Richard Worth.

"Helen Clark has again crossed the line with her attack on the integrity of Judge Wickliffe of the Maori Land Court last week.

"The Prime Minister's attack is wholly inappropriate in four respects:

"First, with her threat that the Government would legislate against the rights of claimants if they pursue their claims.

"Secondly, her suggestion that because unrelated claims were pending before the Privy Council the claimants should not pursue their rights on their own claims, is out of line.

"Thirdly, Ms Clark has gratuitously insulted the Maori Land Court by claiming it should have had 'rather better things to do with its time'.

"And finally, the allegation that the Judge had improperly sat on the claim involving Ngati Porou and had only belatedly realised that error.

"The Attorney-General has a special responsibility to protect the courts from unwarranted criticism which damages the administration of justice. This is clearly such a case, and should be pursued with the same vigour as other contempt of court cases against Members of Parliament. "When the Clark Government talks about access to justice and upholding the rule of law, the rhetoric sounds increasingly hollow.

"The courts should not be intimidated by the Prime Minister's comments," said Mr Worth.

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