Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Mallard challenges Bush over controversial eulogy

Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush. Photo / Martin Sykes
Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush. Photo / Martin Sykes

Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush has been challenged by Labour MP Trevor Mallard over his comments at the funeral of former Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton.

In a heated select committee this morning, Mr Mallard appeared to suggest Mr Bush should be sacked for his controversial eulogy.

Mr Bush told mourners that Mr Hutton - who was found to have planted evidence in a murder inquiry - had "integrity beyond reproach".

Mr Mallard asked Police Commissioner Peter Marshall whether it was his decision to allow Mr Bush to speak at the funeral.

Mr Marshall said he "absolutely" supported Mr Bush's attendance at the funeral. He also defended the eulogy.

"You have to remember this was a funeral service attended by grieving family, by grieving friends and associates of the deceased and he made those comments in the context of that particular set of circumstances."

When National Party MPs attempted to have Mr Mallard's questions ruled out of order, the Labour MP suggested that Mr Bush should be sacked.

"We are deciding whether or not to continue [Mr Bush's] salary. That's what we're deciding now."

After being prevented from questioning Mr Marshall further, Mr Mallard then stormed out of the committee room.

After the committee meeting, Mr Bush said his comments were directed at Mr Hutton's family.

"They weren't meant to be taken by any wider audience and they weren't meant to cause offence to anyone."

He did not comment further when asked whether he would apologise, or whether he regretted making the comments.

It is believed that Mr Bush will be a strong contender for the role of police commissioner.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority received two complaints about the second-highest ranked officer's comments at the funeral, but decided not to take any formal action.

Mr Hutton was found by a royal commission to have planted evidence used to wrongly convict Pukekawa farmer Arthur Allan Thomas of the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe.

- NZ Herald

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