Labour leader David Cunliffe has signed up well-known lawyer Deborah Manning into a senior role in his office.

Mr Cunliffe has confirmed he has appointed Ms Manning as his deputy chief of staff,
working alongside chief of staff Matt McCarten.

Ms Manning was Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui's lawyer in his case to have a security risk certificate overturned after he arrived in New Zealand in 2002 seeking refugee status and was imprisoned.

She was at the Labour Party conference last year but ruled out speculation she was considering a run for Parliament at that time. Mr Cunliffe said "she is a talented organiser with a long connection to the Labour Party."


She and Mr Cunliffe have some history relating to the Zaoui case. As Immigration Minister in 2007 Mr Cunliffe decided not to allow Mr Zaoui's family into New Zealand because it would be inappropriate while Mr Zaoui's status was still undecided. Ms Manning described that decision as "cruel and inhumane" and said it was political manouvering.

Ms Manning is currently a barrister working in Waitakere.

In 2010, former Labour MP Chris Carter said he had approached Ms Manning to ask her to stand for Labour in his Te Atatu electorate after he was expelled from Labour for disloyalty to then Labour leader Phil Goff but said she had declined.

Mr McCarten was appointed chief of staff after Mr Cunliffe's first chief of staff Wendy Brandon resigned after getting a serious case of shingles a few months after taking the role.

Ms Manning will replace current deputy chief of staff Karl Beckett, who will move into a different advisory role. Mr Cunliffe said Mr Beckett's family was based in Sydney and he had requested a more flexible role but would continue to provide strategic advice.