Sabin chaired Law & Order committee after Key knew

Andrew Little was interviewed by Duncan Garner on Radio Live about John Key’s handling of the Mike Sabin police inquiry.

Garner: What are you alleging, why is this important?

Little: This is important because the Parliamentary committee that Mike Sabin chaired provides the oversight for the police.

A very important role, and the idea that the person chairing that committee would be under a police investigation and at the same time to continue to chair potentially calling the police officials to account on it is just a level of conflict of interest that we should just never tolerate.

Now the idea is waht is pretty clear is the Government knew this and allowed him to carry on chairing that committee even though they knew he was under a police investigation.

Garner: No but do we have any proof though that the Prime Minister had been told?

Little: Well even if you take the Prime Minister at his word when he said the earliest that he knew was the first of December, we know that Mike Sabin chaired the law and Order select committee on the third of December.

So when the Government knew, when the Prime Minister knew, he allowed the guy to carry on chairing the select committee that provides oversight for the police, and this was a major conflict of interest. It would be never be tolerated in any other organisation.

That is obviously of concern. Key was questioned about this in his regular post Cabinet press conference this afternoon.

Garner: John Key has said that yes he found out that his Northland MP was being investigated on December the first and he allowed, he allowed Sabinto carry on chairing the Law and Order select committee two days later.

Key at his press conference:

Him remaining as the chair of the select committee was appropriate course of action.

I accept it’s a judgement call. Some people might criticise me for that but people make a judgement call on the information they have at the time.

Much may hinge on “the information they have at the time”, but it should also be remembered that Key was still defending Sabin in late January/early February.

It’s eyebrow raising that Key knew of the inquiry and still judged it appropriate to allow Sabin to continue chairing the committee.

That Key was still defending Sabin up until what appears to be a related court appearance that is suppressed raises much bigger questions considering what has been widely talked about as the possible nature of charges.

Note: As usual on this issue comments must comply with any laws that could potentially apply to this.

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  1. kiwi_guy

     /  9th February 2015

    Key might finally get his bum blistered this time.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  9th February 2015

    Being investigated is different from being charged.

    • Yes. But if police are investigated they are stood down pending the outcome. Why shouldn’t the same apply to the chair of the police oversight committee who may be required to deal with officers involved in his investigation? Sounds inappropriate to me.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  9th February 2015

        The Law and Order committee deals with policy, not operations. It is highly unlikely to deal with operational officers involved in his investigation and even less likely that the subject would involve a conflict of interest. Plus I don’t think it is a universal rule that police are stood down while under investigation.

      • Goldie

         /  10th February 2015

        The chair of a select committee is a matter entirely for that select committee, and there is a formal process for removal of a chair by that select committee (seven days notice, etc, etc). So the idea that the PM could stand down a chair of a select committee is nonsense.
        The only way a member of a select committee could be “stood down” is by the near-unanimous determination of the Business Committee (or a vote of the whole House). That said, it is convention that the Committee will accept the internal decisions of a party caucus, with the proviso that the overall proportionality of the select committee does not change.
        So for Sabin to have been stood down from the select committee, the National caucus would have had to have discussed it and reached a decision, then Brownlee would have advised the Business Committee who would have made a determination… Again, the idea that John Key could peremptorily remove a member of a select committee is ridiculous.

        As to the ability of the Prime Minister to remove a member of Parlaiment – well, there is this little thing called parliamentary privilege! Sabin was a constituency MP, so unless the House voted on his expulsion for a criminal offence, it is silly to say that Key should have done something. (The NZ Parliament has never voted to expel a member, so it would have to be for a really terrible offence for this to happen – and a police investigation would not meet that bar IMV).

        I suspect some people are confused between MPs and Ministers (and the PM can sack or appoint Ministers at will).

  1. Little on Key on Sabin | Your NZ

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