The identity of the senior Northland police officer who "improperly influenced" a senior prosecutor to withdraw an assault charge can now be revealed.
Whangārei-Kaipara police area commander Inspector Marty Ruth was called "Officer B" in an Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report which found he had intervened in a prosecution on behalf of an associate.
The Advocate has learned it was a business that linked Ruth to the associate - and that the intervention related to an assault charge laid against the associate's son, called "Mr X" by the IPCA.
The police watchdog found Ruth's action breached a police policy on conflicts of interest because of his business connection.
Ruth - second in command of police in Northland - denied to the IPCA that he had breached the policy. The Advocate has asked Ruth for comment and received no response.
The IPCA inquiry report was released this week without Ruth being identified. At the time, Northland district commander Superintendent Tony Hill said police accepted the IPCA's findings.
An employment investigation had been concluded with police confirming the officer - Ruth - remained a police employee.
When approached again over Ruth's identity, police said it had the same privacy obligations as any other employer when it came to an employment matter and would not comment.
Ruth's 40-odd year career as a standout Northland cop has him regarded as the face of Whangārei police. Each month he presents to the Whangārei District Council, helmed by Mayor Sheryl Mai, to provide a policing update.
He additionally provides a police voice at Whangārei MP Emily Henderson's community crime-focused hui held across the district.
Ruth was found to have used his senior position to influence the decision-making of another officer in a way that was "inappropriate and improper", IPCA chair Judge Colin Doherty found.
The IPCA report detailed the background of the saga from 1am on June 14, 2020 when Mr X got into an argument with another man outside a bar in Vine St, Whāngārei.
Mr X was arrested with police alleging he had thrown a punch that inadvertently connected with the other man's girlfriend.
Mr X maintained from the outset he was acting in self-defence and no assault took place. After his first court appearance, he asked police at court to secure the CCTV footage to prove his case.
He then spoke of the assault charge to his father - called Mr Y by the IPCA - who called Ruth, knowing he was a police officer.
Ruth told IPCA investigators he had involved himself because he considered Mr X's request about the CCTV footage remarkable and raised the possibility of police error. He told IPCA investigators: "That's my job to manage risk, to fix the things that are wrong."
But the IPCA found Ruth inserted himself in the case when he should not have done so, criticising his advice to Mr Y that Mr X not make a planned statement to police.
Ruth also arranged visits to the police station so Mr X and Mr Y could view the footage, which was considered unusual by a sergeant who witnessed the interaction.
After the visit, Ruth told an officer the complainant had lied in her statement to police. The officer rejected the claim and, at Ruth's suggestion, the pair watched the CCTV footage.
When the officer replayed it slowly, Ruth reportedly agreed it showed an assault and contacted Mr X's father to tell him and suggest they return to watch it again. The next day Ruth and another officer met with the father and son to watch the footage. The other officer said Ruth was heard saying to Mr X: "There you go mate, that's you throwing a punch, it's quite clear."
The IPCA was also critical of Ruth approaching other officers to discuss the prosecution.
They said he made it clear to one officer his interest in the file was because of his business connection with Mr X's father.
The following week Ruth approached a police prosecutor about Mr X's file, again emphasising he knew the man's father. The prosecutor was said to have told him to let him deal with it due to the conflict of interest.
The IPCA said Ruth remained involved with evidence of the involvement captured in text messages between the senior police officer and Mr Y.
At one point the father texted the senior officer to ask if it was proving to be a "mission" to bring his son's case forward.
Ruth replied: "It is but I've been watching Mission Impossible, if they can do it, so can you and me".
Eventually, Ruth, the police prosecutor and the sergeant who oversaw the prosecution watched the footage again. The IPCA report said the prosecutor then decided Mr X had acted in self-defence.
The charge against Mr X was withdrawn in the Whangarei District Court on July 29, 2020.
The IPCA watched the CCTV footage and said it showed Mr X throwing a punch after the complainant moved between him and her boyfriend.
It said the prosecutor's assessment of the CCTV footage had been "flawed" and his decision-making had been "improperly influenced" by Ruth who had breached the police conflict of interest policy.
Mr X said he was portrayed in the IPCA report as someone who had done something wrong when he maintained he had not. He said he supported Ruth's efforts on his behalf.
"How was he [Ruth] under investigation when he did the work that other officers should have done. I tried the whole week after my arrest to speak to the cops and explain the situation. This is bulls***."