David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Eulogy scripted to praise cop who planted Crewe evidence

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

The eulogy by one of the country's police officers for a controversial detective was scripted to offer praise for his integrity - despite the former colleague being found to have planted evidence.

Documents reveal deputy commissioner Mike Bush was offered his own personal endorsement for former detective inspector Bruce Hutton, the officer who led the flawed inquiry into the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe.

Previously, Commissioner Peter Marshall backed up his deputy, saying the eulogy included "a range of positive comments from the service file of Bruce Hutton".

Mr Hutton was found by a Royal Commission of Inquiry in 1980 to have planted the cartridge case used to wrongly convict farmer Arthur Thomas of the murders. It also found Mr Thomas should never have been charged over the murders, which remain unsolved.

Documents released sourced through the Official Information Act show there were comments which did not come from Mr Hutton's service file. In contrast, they were made written in a section of the speech in which Mr Bush shared his recollections of Mr Hutton.

In a reference to the Crewe inquiry, he said: "It is a great tragedy and irony that a man of such character should have been subject to devastating accusations of dishonesty."

A spokesman for the commissioner said previous comments had not referred to the entire speech. "He did not suggest the entire speech were verbatim comments from the file. Other comments made by DC Bush reflected the feelings of the grieving friends and family whom he was addressing."

Des Thomas, Arthur's brother, said the family was concerned at the police stance on the case. He said Mr Bush and Mr Marshall should not have input or responsibility for the current review into the case.

The police review is currently reviewing the murder inquiry after a plea from the murdered couple's surviving daughter, Rochelle.

What happened?

Former Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton was found to have planted evidence in a double murder inquiry. He died this year and police held an honour guard at his funeral, at which Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush spoke of Mr Hutton's integrity.

How did they explain that?

Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush said: "At no time did I make specific reference to the royal commission of inquiry. There was no intention to create the perception that I or NZ Police was challenging the findings of the [inquiry] or the integrity of any individual connected with the inquiry."

What do the speech notes scripted at police headquarters say?

Mr Bush's speech notes said: "As we all know, despite the breadth and depth of Bruce's police career, in the public eye he is associated with one case above all. It is a great tragedy and irony that a man of such character should have been subject to devastating accusations of dishonesty."

- NZ Herald

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