Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Anne Tolley stands her ground over knowledge of Maurice Williamson call to police

Anne Tolley maintains the first she knew of Maurice Williamson's phone call to police was on Monday. Photo / APN
Anne Tolley maintains the first she knew of Maurice Williamson's phone call to police was on Monday. Photo / APN

Police Minister Anne Tolley is standing by her statements that first she heard of ousted Government minister Maurice Williamson attempting to intervene with police in the Donghua Liu case was on Monday this week.

Information supplied to the Herald by police yesterday shows Ms Tolley was first notified by police on April 14 of the Official Information Act request from reporter Jared Savage which prompted police to release an email trail revealing Mr Williamson's involvement.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said this morning it appeared Ms Tolley sat on that information for more than two weeks.

"This issue was known to the Minister of Police", Mr Peters told National Radio this morning.

"What on Earth was the 'no surprises' rule about if she didn't alert the Prime Minister?

"What is the Minister of Police doing making a judgement on this matter when it should have gone straight to the Prime Minister within a matter of hours? I want to know what she did about it because that's what the no surprises policy is about.

"The Prime Minister claims to have only known about it a few days ago. There's a pattern about this. He knew nothing about the GCSB, nothing about the SIS nothing about the (Dotcom) raid a couple of years ago.

"It all screams of a Prime Minister that's been left out of the loop or is that just too convenient?"

Read more:
O'Connor can't recall why he let Liu into NZ
Maurice Williamson resigns as a minister
Crossing the thin blue line
Audrey Young: Lack of judgment as worrying as it is bizarre
Editorial: Williamson - the other questions
Profile: Who is Maurice Williamson?

However, a spokesman for Ms Tolley told the Herald the only detail in the information given to her by police on April 14 as part of a routine list of OIA requests received, was that the NZ Herald had requested Information about Donghua Liu.

Asked specifically about when Ms Tolley first knew Mr Williamson had asked police to review their case against Mr Liu, the spokesman said: " The minister was briefed on the details of the OIA on Monday afternoon (28th) by the (police) commissioner. This was the first time she had knowledge of any of these issues."

"She did not inform the Prime Minister. During the briefing the commissioner informed her that he would be briefing the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which she believed was the appropriate action to take."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush's briefing to Ms Tolley came four days after police had declined Savage's request and he made an urgent appeal to the Ombudsman. Police also provided Mr Williamson with a copy of the OIA request the same day.

They also told him they intended "to release relevant information with appropriate redactions to the NZ Herald and that a copy of the information to be disclosed will be provided prior to public release".

Mr Bush also briefed the chief executive of the politically neutral Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Andrew Kibblewhite, on the OIA request.

On Tuesday, Mr Williamson's office was provided with a copy of redacted emails between three senior officers that police proposed releasing to the Herald. Police also provided Prime Minister John Key's office with copies of the email exchange that began with a message from the top policeman for Mr Williamson's electorate, Counties Manukau district commander Superintendent John Tims, despite Auckland Central being the investigating station.

Ms Tolley received a copy of the emails and Savage's original request on Wednesday.

Early yesterday, police reassessed the OIA request and considered the public interest to make the information available outweighed other considerations.

A Labour spokesman said: "From our experience in government it was police practice to give the Minister of Police a 'no surprises' briefing on events that could involve high-profile matters. These occurred around the time of the particular incident."

Read copies of the police emails here:

Response from police to Herald request for information:

- NZ Herald

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