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Ashley report: O’Connor must go

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice and Corrections Spokesman

10 December 2006

Ashley report: O’Connor must go

National’s Justice and Corrections spokesman, Simon Power, says the Corrections Minister must “do the decent thing” and resign if the report into the death of 17-year-old Liam Ashley in the back of a prison van is as damning as expected.

It has been reported that Corrections’ inquiry into the tragedy is understood to have found that Mr Ashley’s death was avoidable and that:

• The decision to transport Mr Ashley in a compartment with two other inmates was a clear breach of Corrections guidelines for transporting youths.
• Chubb guards transporting the prisoners were not told that Mr Ashley had been officially classified as a vulnerable youth.
• The prisoner later charged with Liam’s murder was classified by Auckland Prison staff as an at-risk prisoner who should have been kept segregated, information that was not passed on to guards at Mt Eden or the Chubb escorts.
• The contract between Corrections and Chubb for prisoner escorts was not updated to meet legislative changes.

Mr Power says Corrections seems to have failed at every turn.

“The department’s inability to follow basic guidelines is staggering. Someone's head has got to roll.

“This tragedy was the result of systemic failure within a government department, the like of which has not been seen since Cave Creek.

“At that time, Labour was keen to invoke the doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility and see the Minister of Conservation resign.

“The shoe is now on the other foot. While Mr O’Connor is not to blame he is politically responsible for his department and this tragic event and must resign. If he doesn’t, Helen Clark has no choice but to push him,” says Mr Power.


Ends


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