Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  23rd September 2016

    I think Stuart has made his point, and mark. When Andy gets the knife, this chap will be a front runner, as long as his feet remain bullet free.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd September 2016

    So what did Nash say about Venables and is it true? As for the claim she can’t respond, what b.s. The police have greater access to the media than anyone else in the country.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd September 2016

      Is there something relevant in it, G?

      • Gezza

         /  23rd September 2016

        More or less. It’s longer than I recall the old one being & there are these various links you have to check now, to complicate matters too, but the guts of it, in various places, mainly under Impartiality I think, the message is – don’t get sucked into public debate with pollies, kick it up the line. It’s quite a handy document for the SSC & departmental heads because it’s quite easy to use it blame someone lower down the food chain if anything goes wrong & that becomes desirable.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  23rd September 2016

          I read the Impartial section and there doesn’t seem to be anything in it constraining Venables from responding to personal criticism from opposition MPs.

  3. duperez

     /  23rd September 2016

    Judith Collins’ regard for the possibility of an appeal in the Delegat case meant she wouldn’t comment. Given her position that is to be expected.

    Ignoring any legal and constitutional issues, had she made comments suggesting disappointment or some inadequacy in the Delegat case would there have been condemnation or acclamation? If she were an Opposition member in a district with seeming inadequacies in policing and made a fuss about it, inappropriate or not, would there be condemnation or acclamation?

    Collins’ suggesting Nash “needs to stop it and act more professionally” reminds me of the recent Aussie rugby twerps commenting about the All Blacks.

  4. Joe Bloggs

     /  23rd September 2016

    Frankly Nash has every reason to speak out. The hollowing out of police resources IS an issue for his community. However directing his concerns at Venables is misguided – if anyone’s to blame it’s Collins.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd September 2016

      From Venable’s response in Gezza’s second link above it seems that in fact her resources have been increased but she is deploying them differently. Hard to blame Collins for that however much the Left want to.

    • duperez

       /  23rd September 2016

      To which she would say it’s an “operational matter.”

  5. “Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

    Because playing with woman card is working out so well for Hillary Clinton.


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