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Statement - High Court Civil Claim, Christchurch

The following statement, to be attributed to a Police spokesperson, follows an agreement being reached this month between two plaintiffs and Police in relation to a civil claim in the High Court in Christchurch. Any further details of the agreement are to remain confidential and Police will not be providing any further comment.

On 7 February 2019 an error was made by a Police Officer at Christchurch International Airport.

A child, who was the subject of a Family Court Order preventing their removal from New Zealand without further order from the Court, was allowed to leave New Zealand notwithstanding the activation of a border alert which was notified to Police by Customs Officers.

The father of the child issued civil proceedings on his own behalf and for his child in the High Court which were to be heard on 3 August 2020.

Those civil proceedings have now been settled following an agreement being reached between the parties.

Police unreservedly apologise for the error that was made, and for the substantial distress caused to the plaintiffs.

Police are totally committed to ensuring that we deliver the services that the community expect and deserve.

Airport Police deal with these orders routinely in New Zealand’s international airports.

Police policy is that once a border alert confirming a Family Court Order is activated, the affected passenger will not be permitted to travel in the absence of proof that the Order has been discharged or varied to allow travel.

A full investigation was conducted as to why that did not happen in this case and improvements have been made to Airport processes and practices to ensure it does not happen again.

Any media enquiries for the plaintiff should be directed to Shane Elliott, Blackstone Chambers, Auckland (counsel for the plaintiffs).

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