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Truth not white wash sought on immigration inquiry

Gordon Copeland Press Release
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, 23rd April 2008

Truth not white wash sought on immigration boss inquiry

Independent MP Gordon Copeland today demanded that the State Services Commission Inquiry into the Mary-Anne Thompson affair, have a clear mandate to uncover the truth of the whole matter.

“Statements made to date by the State Services Commissioner, Mark Prebble, leave me with the uneasy feeling that we are, once again, headed towards a white wash,” said Mr Copeland.

“The Commission has so far indicated that its Inquiry will concentrate on the examination of the systems within Immigration New Zealand which allowed Mary-Anne Thompson to get involved in the issuance of residency to her relatives.”

“That is simply not good enough. There is nothing to suggest a systemic problem here. We are dealing with the actions of an individual. The TVNZ expose on this matter, coupled with my own knowledge of the internal working of Immigration New Zealand, raises specific and critical issues which need to be examined by the Inquiry.”

“For example, it has been reported that Dr Thompson helped fill in the forms for the three family members who applied for residency purposes and then signed her name to say that she had done so. Fine, but that does not mean that that was the full extent of the assistance which she gave to those family members.”

“TVNZ, by contrast, claimed that Dr Thompson personally went to Kiribati and accompanied the three people involved back to New Zealand. They also stated that the family members had earlier visited New Zealand, using a visa waiver issued with the possible assistance of Dr Thompson.”

“Perhaps more importantly, however, the public of New Zealand need to know how those relatives were awarded New Zealand residency, even although the quota for immigrants from Kiribati had already been filled and, as far as we know, they did not meet the qualifications for immigration into this country.”

“We are being asked to believe that this was all the work of a nameless staff member, junior to Dr Thompson, who subsequently was subjected to some ill-defined disciplinary sanction.”

“However I know that Immigration New Zealand have an absolute cast iron rule that two staff members, not one, must always be involved in the grant of residency. Under the Service’s own rules, therefore, two people would have been involved in the grant but the identity of the second person has not, to date, been disclosed or explained.”

“In the absence of a full inquiry, the suspicion lingers that the second person might have been Mary-Anne Thompson herself and that suspicion can only be allayed by ensuring all the facts are made public. Unless that happens, we will be left, not with just a suspicion of white wash, but with the real possibility that the truth is to be withheld from the people of New Zealand.”

ENDS

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