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Brash takes dangerous path toward police state

National Party leader Don Brash is heading down a dangerous path toward a police state with an "unprecedented attack" on police integrity, says Police Minister Annette King.

Dr Brash said today that National's ability to retain confidence in NZ Police is "challenged" because police had not charged anyone from the Labour Party over alleged breaches of spending caps at the last election.

"Dr Brash's attack on NZ Police is little short of intimidation. It is outrageous and unprecedented coming from the leader of a political party. His comments breach a long-held convention in New Zealand that ensure politicians remain clearly separate from the police in terms of operational matters such as deciding who should or should not be prosecuted in any matter."

Ms King says that convention was made clear on 8 March 1993 when then Solicitor-General John McGrath, ruling on the constitutional relationship between the Police Commissioner and the Police Minister, said: "The Commissioner is a an independent statutory officer acting with original not ministerially delegated authority in respect of law enforcement decisions in a particular case … and is bound only by the duty to act lawfully himself in exercising his powers." (full ruling attached).

Ms King says she is sure National's law and order spokesperson Simon Power will not support Dr Brash's attack. "I know Mr Power agrees with the ruling, and that it is not the job of politicians to put pressure on the police. Dr Brash feigns great reluctance in challenging the police, but if that's the case, why has he gone to the media with his letter?

"What he is doing takes us down the road of a police state. It is a very dangerous path. The Labour Party could have challenged the police over why someone from National was not charged over GST issues at election time, but Labour accepts these decisions must be decisions police make themselves. I say to Dr Brash, pull back now because what you are doing is very dangerous for New Zealand.

"I want to affirm my total confidence in the integrity of the NZ Police hierarchy in making such decisions. New Zealanders can have great trust that those making such decisions are doing so in the best interests of New Zealand."

ENDS

See... Solicitor-General On Relationship Between Police Commissioner And Minister (PDF)

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