Audrey Young 's Opinion

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young: Why Maurice Williamson should be sacked

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Maurice Williamson called a police officer after a businessman he'd previously helped with immigration issues was arrested for domestic assault. Photo / Wayne Drought
Maurice Williamson called a police officer after a businessman he'd previously helped with immigration issues was arrested for domestic assault. Photo / Wayne Drought

Maurice Williamson's interference in the police case involving businessman Donghua Liu is a sackable offence.

Read more: Minister called top cop after businessman arrested for assault

A minister advocating on someone's behalf to the police is quite a different matter to advocating to the Immigration Service for someone to be given residency.

The Immigration work is an accepted part of the work an MP, especially constituency MPs, who are often confronted with cases where the rules don't accommodate deserving cases.

It has been a long-standing practice of various Governments to give the Associate Immigration Minister discretion to make final judgments on cases. The wisdom of the discretionary power resting with a minister is debated from time to time, as it has been in the wake of the Williamson-Liu case, and former Associate Minister Shane Jones using his discretion in the Bill Liu case, but that is another matter.

There is not and never has been any discretion of the Government involving police work - quite the opposite.

The clear separation between the Government of the day and police decisions over charges and prosecutions is recognized as an essential element of an ethical state.

It is what contributes to New Zealand's top equal ranking in the world with Denmark by Transparency International in its latest ratings.

Ministers, MPs, celebrities, heavies, whoever, have no place using their position to try to influence an outcome of a case, unless it is done transparently.

It would be no less appropriate for Police Minister Anne Tolley to pick up the phone to discuss a case with the police than it would be for her to pick up the phone and call a judge about a case before the courts.

It would be a gross violation of process. The same goes for Maurice Williamson.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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