Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Mallard bullying police - Tolley

Labour MP Trevor Mallard. Photo / Andrew Labett
Labour MP Trevor Mallard. Photo / Andrew Labett

The Labour Party has been accused of bullying after one of its MPs appeared to threaten a high-ranking police official's job.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said Labour MP Trevor Mallard was attempting to destroy the career of deputy commissioner Mike Bush, who she described as one of New Zealand's top-performing policemen.

At a parliamentary select committee yesterday, Mr Mallard asked Police Commissioner Peter Marshall whether he supported Mr Bush's eulogy at the funeral of former detective inspector Bruce Hutton in April.

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

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."

Mr Mallard then accused the Police Minister of lying in the House with regard to Mike Bush's eulogy.

Mrs Tolley has previously said that Mr Bush's comment about Mr Hutton's integrity was quoted directly from his police record. Mr Mallard disputed this.

When National Party MPs attempted to have Mr Mallard's questions ruled out of order, the Labour MP appeared to say 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."

He then stormed out of the committee room after being prevented from asking further questions.

After the meeting, Mr Bush said his comments had been 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.

Mrs Tolley said she would not tolerate senior police officers being harassed.

"Trevor's just a bully. And I'm not going to allow the police to be bullied."

The Independent Police Conduct Authority received two complaints about Mr Bush'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.

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

- NZ Herald

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