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Silliest statement by an Attorney-General ever?

By Steven | March 27, 2012

On Sunday, former Police Minister Annette King told TVNZ’s Q and A that the Labour government ministers had merely been briefed on Operation 8, and at the last minute at that; that they were given assurances by Solicitor-General David Collins that the process was correct; and that they were dismayed by the way the police conducted the raids and what seemed like an about turn by Collins when he said later that the law was incoherent and much of the evidence inadmissable.

Yesterday, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson accused her of contempt of court. Her interview might prejudice “ongoing matters in the trials arising out of that operation”: sentencing, the possibility of an appeal, and the possibility of a re-trial.

I find it hard to see anything in Annette King’s interview that might cause serious risk of prejudice to any of those matters. On the other hand, the interview did begin to explore interesting and important questions about what the government knew, and when, and what was the quality of the advice that the government was receiving.

But the Attorney-General visits la-la land with his final sentence, which seems to have been widely and uncritically quoted:

It is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly for politicians, to comment publicly on matters that are before the Courts.

This is tosh. Of course we can talk about court cases. The only thing we can’t do is publish things that cause real risk of prejudice to the administration of justice. That’s a pretty narrow category of things.

This is the sort of tosh usually dished up by those who simply don’t want to talk about the issues arising out of particular cases.

Topics: General | 45 Comments »

45 Responses to “Silliest statement by an Attorney-General ever?”

  1. Weebly Review Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I agree entirely with you. There was hardly anything in that interview that might cause serious risk of prejudice to any of those matters. The whole issue is ridiculous.

  2. Peter A Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I saw the Q&A King interview and, like others, gasped at the police’s ‘management’ of the government of the day (a minimal briefing the night before), and Collins A-G’s apparent about face.

    But Keynes’s “When the facts change I change my mind, What do you do sir?”applies, surely?

    As for Finlayson A-G’s comments — what on earth did he stand to gain from them? (Clumsy political point-scoring excepted.)

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