Green co-leader Metiria Turei won't admit whether she confessed to the Law Society she had committed benefit fraud when she applied to be a lawyer.

Turei last week revealed she was a benefits cheat when she was a young solo mother in the 1990s.

She admitted lying to Work and Income about her living arrangements in order to receive a higher welfare payment than she was entitled to, she says in order to put food on the table for her young daughter.

Turei was a law student at the time, graduating in 1999 before working as a commercial lawyer for Simpson Grierson in Auckland.


As a condition for being allowed to practice as a lawyer, graduates must pass a "fit and proper person" test administered by the Law Society.

It includes declaring criminal convictions and other matters that could bring their character into question, which can range from serious matters to parking tickets.

"I had an interview with the Law Society. The content of that interview is private," Turei told NZ Newswire.

She refused to answer questions on whether she declared her benefit cheating to the panel.

"If they have any concerns I'm sure they'll get hold of me," she said.

Law Society regulatory general manager Mary Ollivier told NZ Newswire it would be unusual for candidates to disclose a crime, but if so they would be asked to attend an interview to discuss the matter.

A decision would be based on the candidate's attitude, reparations and steps to address the matter.

"Depending on the circumstances it is possible that the candidate would be asked to disclose the mater to the police and it may be that the issue of a certificate of character would be put on hold pending the outcome of any police investigation," she said.

Turei confirmed she no longer holds a practising certificate.