Whanganui MP Chester Borrows, cleared of a driving charge laid by police, says he is frustrated it went all the way to court.
After a day-and-a-half trial in Whanganui District Court, Judge Stephanie Edwards this afternoon found the politician not guilty of careless driving causing injury after two protesters were hit by his car.
Police charged Borrows, 59, after two women suffered minor injuries when they were among anti-Trans Pacific Partnership protesters blocking his car outside a Whanganui motel in March last year.
Borrows was driving the car carrying cabinet minister Paula Bennett when it was "swamped" by a handful of protesters as it left a Chamber of Commerce meeting.
The former policeman said he believed he was driving slowly and carefully enough and that police had moved the two women away before he accelerated on to the street.
He said he wasn't aware he had hit anyone.
In her decision Judge Edwards said she was satisfied Borrows' car did come into contact with the two women on March 22, and he accepts they suffered injury.
The question is whether he drove carelessly, and especially whether he should have stopped.
He admits he did not stop - and the video shows wheel spokes continuing to turn - but Judge Edwards was satisfied he was driving slowly, and was aware of people.
She said the three protesters expected the car to stop, and the police to tell them to move out of the way. Police expected them to move, and pulled them away when they did not.
By that point the car had come into contact with both Tracey Treadwell and Denise Lockett.
Judge Edwards accepted Borrows had valid reason to be concerned for his passengers' comfort, if not their safety - concerns that might appear exaggerated or overly sensitive.
She was a little uneasy at the extent to which he felt he needed to take control of the situation, and said in future he should leave that to currently serving officers.
But she accepted that he was aware of the people around him and would have stopped if he had been asked or if there was a safety risk.
Judge Edwards found his failure to stop was not careless. Wanganui Chronicle reporter Laurel Stowell said Borrows showed little emotion as the verdict was announced.
She said his wife was in attendance, as well as a number of members of the National Party.
Borrows told Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams the case should never have been taken to court.
He said if he wasn't a politician and former police officer he may not have been charged.
Speaking to RNZ, he said it was "interesting" to have a senior Crown prosecutor - Palmerston North's Ben Vanderkolk - dealing with a routine charge.
"I don't believe the decision was made locally. I'm a bit frustrated about that."
He believed the decision was made by police headquarters in Wellington.
Outside court one of the protesters involved in the incident, Denise Lockett, said she was disappointed in the system and described it as a "piece of theatre".
"I am disappointed in the police, in their lack of observational skills and lack of memory at times."
She said she was also disappointed more of the video wasn't played in court because "you can see the brake lights the whole time."
During the trial, the court was told both Borrows and Bennett feared another dildo attack like the one on Steven Joyce at Waitangi.
Borrows also feared stopping would let protesters jump on his car - a repeat of an incident the previous year - allow them to throw a batten to break the windows or even try to open the doors.
He had seen an abusive Facebook post from a local man which indicated another dildo attack on a politician.
Bennett, who was called to give evidence, said it was one of the more aggressive protests she had seen, although it was small.
She had seen the post of the sex toy with her name written on it.
"I didn't want a photo with this thing hitting me or hitting the window right next to me," she said.
She heard someone say "ow" but thought it was because police had moved a protester.
Borrows, who has been an MP since 2005 and is a former minister for the courts, is not running for re-election this year.
- AAP and Wanganui Chronicle