One of the country's top police officers has been questioned after allegedly refusing to take a drink-driving breath test.
The senior officer has been on leave since an incident at his Wellington home on a Friday night two weeks ago.
The Herald on Sunday has been told he drove home from the Wellington police bar and was followed by a community patrol car after reports of erratic driving.
A police sergeant knocked on his door at his home and asked him to take an evidential breath test.
The officer allegedly told the sergeant that he had been home all night, then shut the door.
He has been on leave since. An internal inquiry is now interviewing other police officers at the bar to confirm if he was there, or at his home.
Under the "no surprises" policy, Police Minister Judith Collins has been alerted to an "issue", but declined to comment further as it was an employment matter.
"I understand the police have taken appropriate action."
A police spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that a high-ranking officer had discussions with Police National Headquarters in relation to the code of conduct. "We are unable to comment further as police are consistent in upholding the rights of all employees under the Policing Act and other employment law," she said in a written statement.
No senior police officers were facing drink-driving charges, she said.
The spokeswoman refused to answer more specific questions on the matter.
This is not the first time a senior police officer has been in the limelight over alcohol breath-tests.
In 2000, the then Police Commissioner Peter Doone resigned from his $275,000-a-year post after two top-level reports criticised his conduct on election night in 1999. Doone spoke to a rookie constable who had stopped a car driven by his partner, Robyn Johnstone. The author of one of the reports, Deputy Commissioner Rob Robinson, said Doone's actions were inappropriate and he should have insisted on "the full treatment for the driver to dispel any later suggestions of insobriety".
The State Services Commission recently cleared Police Commissioner Howard Broad after claims he avoided a police breath-test checkpoint 16 years ago - but Broad acknowledged he had been drinking before his car was stopped.
In 1992, Broad was stopped by a Ministry of Transport traffic patrol in Christchurch. He was at the time leading a homicide inquiry and had been to dinner with a more senior detective.
After being stopped, Broad acknowledged to the traffic officer that he had consumed a couple of drinks with the meal. The officer then required him to park the vehicle and to stop driving for a number of hours, said State Services Commissioner Mark Prebble.
The traffic officer and the senior police officer confirmed that Broad complied with the traffic officer's instructions and his behaviour was entirely appropriate, said Prebble. Broad did not take a breath test.