COMMENT:

Karel Sroubek must by now be the best-known Czech national with New Zealand residency, even if it is in jail, in the country.

And we ain't heard the last of him yet, even though the Beehive will now be wishing they'd never heard the name, let alone allowing Immigration resources to be tied up to produce a winebox full of documents the minister never read when he made his snap decision to let Sroubek stay here.

Of course Sroubek's not going anywhere for a while anyway, given the last time he made a bid for freedom the Parole Board wasn't convinced he'd done enough of his almost six-year jail stretch for smuggling 5kg of ecstasy into the country. It wasn't impressed with the line he spun them so the key's not going to turn in the lock in the foreseeable future.

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And that's just as well because even though Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway would give anything to reverse what was an unfathomable decision to give Sroubek residency given his dodgy past it's not going to be easy.

When conflicting evidence emerged after the poorly researched decision that stirred up a hornet's nest in the Beehive, it saw the minister grasping at anything that'd allow him to change it. Three weeks, he told us, was being laid aside for his officials to investigate the new evidence. Too long, protested his embarrassed, and quietly infuriated, boss Jacinda Ardern, she wanted the issue resolved more quickly. Of course she did, it again made her Government look clumsy.

Well we're now going into the fourth week, which she should have anticipated when lawyers became involved, which of course they had to. The officials completed their investigation but they had to let Sroubek's legal team come up with the reasons why their new evidence was old.

Now the officials are going through the lawyers' response, dismissing the new evidence to keep their man in the country.

To put matters right in the public's mind isn't going to be easy. Most want Sroubek gone when he gets out of jail, there's little doubt about that, but if that's the decision of the minister, expected to be delivered this week, that won't be an end to the matter.

There'll be more litigation, you can count on it. So the Government's embarrassment could continue, conceivably even until after the next election which will of course be music to the ears of the Opposition, which claims to have more damning material.

Sroubek doesn't have to be released from prison until the beginning of 2022 - and given the Parole Board's lack of enthusiasm for letting him out, his lawyers have time on their hands and members of the Government have a problem on theirs.