“Former Minister Maurice Williamson resigned in 2014 for allegedly interfering in a police investigation into businessman Donghua Liu, but Stuart Nash this morning boasted of calling the Police Commissioner to influence prosecution decisions,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning, Police Minister Stuart Nash boasted that he’d called the Police Commissioner about a case where an accused person was found innocent. "I’ve seen a couple of judgements, and actually one I phoned up the Police Commissioner and said surely you’re going to appeal this?"

“The Police Minister of all people should know that police independence is paramount. We do not want to live in a country where politicians get involved in police prosecution decisions. It wouldn’t be the first time if a Minister in this Government distanced themselves from an issue saying 'of course we have to respect the independence of police operations.'

When Maurice Williamson was accused of talking to Police about prosecuting Donghua Liu, he resigned. Then Prime Minister John Key said: "I have been made aware that Mr Williamson contacted Police some time ago regarding their investigation of Mr Donghua Liu… Mr Williamson has assured me that he did not in any way intend to influence the Police investigation. However, Mr Williamson's decision to discuss the investigation with Police was a significant error of judgement. …The independence of Police investigations is a fundamental part of our country's legal framework.”

“Then Labour Leader David Cunliffe told Parliament: "Mr Williamson’s resignation and the issues that led to it are very serious matters that question the independence of the New Zealand Police and its ability to conduct investigations without political interference. New Zealanders must have an assurance that Ministers in any Government will not, cannot, and must not use their positions either to favour some members of the community or to apply pressure to independent organisations like the Police. New Zealanders are stunned, New Zealanders are shocked, and New Zealanders are saddened that that could have occurred at all."

“Stuart Nash’s actions are far worse. Number one, he is the Police Minister, who is responsible for securing Police funding in the Budget. He carries far more sway with Police than any other MP. Number two, while Mr Williamson’s actions and motivations were highly questionable, Stuart Nash is not hiding the fact that he attempts to influence police prosecutions, in fact he’s boasting about it on prime-time radio!

“Stuart Nash needs to answer, did this conversation really happen, have there been any other similar conversations, and how on earth does he think such political interference in prosecutions is acceptable?

“Chris Hipkins, a former Police Minister, needs to answer, did he ever make such a call to the Police Commissioner or any other police officer. He needs to explain why Stuart Nash should stay in the job and is so why the standards of this Government when it comes to police neutrality lower than John Key delivered and David Cunliffe demanded just nine years ago, when Maurice Williamson resigned for less."

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David Seymour