Lees-Galloway changes decision, Sroubek to be deported

After a lot of attention given to his decision not to deport Karel Sroubek, plus political pressure, and getting new information, Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway has reversed his decision not to deport Sroubek after he ends the prison term he is serving.

This has all looked quite sloppy from Lees-Galloway, and he has apologised to the Prime Minister – he said he was “acutely aware that trust and confidence has been damaged by this episode” and he’d apologised to the prime minister, and that apology had been accepted – but as Sroubek has remained in prison while this has been in the spotlight no real damage has been done except to Lees-Galloway’s reputation.

RNZ: Sroubek liable for deportation – Immigration Minister

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has announced Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek is liable for deportation when he is released from prison.

Mr Lees-Galloway said some information was not available to him when he made the original decision.

This included new information from Interpol confirming details of his convictions, including that he was present in court when found guilty and that he appealed the verdict to the highest court in the Czech Republic.

“He doesn’t have residency now because he’s not produced a valid travel document. But this decision of deportation overrides that.

“At the point where he was released on parole or at the end of sentence, INZ would step in and he would be removed from the country.”

Mr Lees-Galloway said Sroubek was being removed because he never had the right to hold the visa in the first place.

He had the right to appeal that.

“This was an unusual case,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.

Sroubek’s release is scheduled for around 2022.

RNZ: Immigration Minister knew of Sroubek’s crimes in Czech Republic

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was informed of Karel Sroubek’s violent crimes in the Czech Republic and allowed him to stay in New Zealand anyway.

Sroubek was “liable for deportation” because his Czech convictions meant he should not have been allowed in New Zealand in the first place, he said.

However, the case file – revealed under the Official Information Act – showed the Minister was informed of those crimes before he made his original call.

“Mr Sroubek is also wanted by Czech authorities for service of 54 months’ imprisonment in connection with an incident on 28 June 1999, in which he attacked and greviously injured two Police officers and another incident on 4 October 1999, when he attacked a taxi driver,” the case summary said.

“It is understood that Mr Sroubek was convicted on 12 February 2002 of disorderly conduct, damaging of another’s property and attacking a law enforcement officer.”

Mr Lees-Galloway said he was only asked to consider Sroubek’s New Zealand convictions and didn’t think to consider the rest.

“I didn’t think of that,” he told reporters. “It would be quite extraordinary to expect someone to think of all the other possible questions that might be asked.

“I don’t know every single detail of the Immigration Act… I didn’t look at that and say ‘aha, he should be an excluded person.’

“That wasn’t something I was considering at the time.”

He has been criticised for not knowing every detail of the Immigration Act, but a lawyer has defended him on this.

This was sloppy from Lees-Galloway and his inexperience showed. He should have learned to take a lot more time and care when considering deportations of known criminals. He should be on notice not to stuff up again like this.

However I think that calls for his resignation may go too far. It would be ridiculous for resignations to follow every ministerial stuff-up.

Simon Bridges looked and sounded like a dork demanding a resignation. It is a demand made far too often by Opposition MPs and leaders.

National MP Michael Woodhouse sounded more credible criticising the original decision.

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36 Comments

  1. B-Rad

     /  November 29, 2018

    I think a key point being missed is that the Minister said he took a long time and made a considered decision, when the facts suggest he did nothing of the sort. Is this not misleading at the best or lying at the worst. For this reason he should be stood down.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      One screw-up, over one case, since repaired (although Sroubek is likely to appeal according to 1ewes at 6 last night) is not a reason for a Minister of Immigration to resign. It is a harsh, publicly humiliating, learning experience that the passage of time just see regarded as an embarrassing stuff-up.

      It should, & probably will, produce a better Minister of Immigration who has learned the hard way that being busy with other portfolios or duties is not a reason to skim-read a departmental summary & make a quick, seemingly casual decision over something as important as whether or not someone is so despicable or such a threat to our society they have to be thrown out.

      Reply
      • Strong For Life

         /  November 29, 2018

        Of course Sroubek will appeal and taxpayers will pay his legal fees. There could be endless appeals, think KimDotcom, which will cost millions in legal fees. If Mr Lees-Galloway had done his job properly in the first place none of this would have happened. He made a ludicrous and unjustifiable decision that is going to cost NZ taxpayers dearly. Sack him.

        Reply
      • B-Rad

         /  November 29, 2018

        How do we know it was one screw up. There should be a review of all his decisions, especially if the Minster feels the process is at fault.

        Reply
      • unitedtribes2

         /  November 29, 2018

        Cant believe he was just having a bad day and I also cant believe that he didn’t know someone like this should be sent packing. So the big question is why did he make this decision and is that a sackable offence. Was he influenced by someone further up?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  November 29, 2018

          I doubt it. He doesn’t seem to have been in his decision to allow Molyneux and Southern to visit. Who higher up did you have in mind? (Bearing in mind that suggesting someone particular influenced him is not defamatory – a discussion and argument which is persuasive is not a corrupt direction.)

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 29, 2018

            I think that he is so incompetent that he should go. People don’t stuff up and prevaricate over just one issue. He couldn’t even make up his mind if he’d read the report or not; in one interview he said repeatedly that he hadn’t, then said at the end that he had.

            Which was it ?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  November 29, 2018

              I think it was a monumental & expensive stuff up – caused by a failure of officials to provide and adequately highlight ALL the relevant up to date information available at the time – as they should have – and by his failing to recognise he should have sent it back with questions.

              It will cost a lot of money and is embarrassing in the extreme. It will make him a better Immigration Minister. He’ll never make a mistake like this again. Winston Peters is right. There have been numerous questionable decisions on people with convictions by Immigration Ministers from every government.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 30, 2018

              Yes, but he prevaricated and wasn’t honest about it, especially about the report.

              I think that he ought to resign. This must be the record-breaking stuff-up by a minister.

  2. Gezza

     /  November 29, 2018

    Winston Peters finally got thrown out of The Chamber for the first time this term during the urgent debate on this issue yesterday – by Deputy Speaker Tolley. I’m not a fan of Peters and his often petty, sailing-close-to-the-wind blathering attacks on opponents, but I think Tolley got this one wrong – for a debate of this kind, and that Winston was right.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      I don’t know why the downticks – before she threw Winston out I think Ann Tolley needed to cite relevant Speaker’s Rulings. General Debates often feature such wide-ranging rants without incident. Perhaps someone downticking above would care to argue the reason for their disagreement. I’m interested & happy to have my mind changed.

      Reply
      • The Consultant

         /  November 29, 2018

        Perhaps someone downticking above would care to argue the reason for their disagreement.

        Heh! Based on my experience here, good luck with that. It’s like voting 🙂

        I can’t provideany reasons for or against as I hardly ever watch clips from the House and regard the whole thing as a pantomime – or Kabuki theatre. Your choice.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  November 29, 2018

          Well, you never know. Sometimes some is so incensed they feel obliged to deliver a lecture and point out what you’re missing. 😉

          It can save on the cost of bouquets.

          Reply
  3. Reply
  4. alloytoo

     /  November 29, 2018

    ILG shouldn’t resign over one mistake.

    It’s his arrogant response and attempts to mislead the public (and throw the department under the bus) for which he should resign. (We also deserve an apology from the PM and deputy PM for the same)

    Reply
    • Ray

       /  November 29, 2018

      Add that to his public humiliation of his staff member who was then sacked for daring to complain, this from a Minister who’s job is to tell employers that they must be kind to their employees.
      Completely unacceptable.
      Two strikes!

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  November 29, 2018

        Blaming officials is the go to for many Ministers from many governments.

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      Reply
  5. Reply
  6. To his credit Lees-Galloway is fronting up on RNZ this morning, currently having an interview with Guyon Espiner.

    Reply
  7. I think the latter is important here.

    Reply
  8. Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      Well exactly. I’ve been close enough to the action to see this happen many times. In comes a novice Minister, with probably only a vague idea of what the immigration policy plan was supposed to be – or sometimes a very clear statement on what the new policy is supposed to be – and wham !. After several briefings about the practicalities and impacts and finally learning what Ministers have to do in this portfolio – as well as others they have responsibilites for – they just can’t get their head around a lot of it yet. So at some point they just trust in their officials and make a quick call. And it’s the wrong bloody one.

      Reply
  9. PDB

     /  November 29, 2018

    As mentioned above it not just making a mistake, it’s initially lying about making that mistake and misleading the public regarding how thorough he was/wasn’t in making his decision.

    Ardern also needs to explain her “reading between the lines’ comment which now appears to be simply a squirrel to put the MSM/ National party off the scent and Winston also needs to explain why after reviewing the same data that he also concluded Lees-Galloway was right in giving Sroubek permanent residency.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      Timeline of events
      2008: Sroubek gains residency under the name Jan Antolik under the sports talent category as the current world kick-boxing champion.
      2009: He faces charges of kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
      2009: The High Court in Auckland gave Sroubek permission to travel to the Czech Republic, ahead of an impending court case. It was stated: “He is the owner of two businesses which are involved in trade with parties in the Czech Republic and it is necessary for him to go there from time to time in order to facilitate transactions involving the import of Czech goods into New Zealand.” The judgement also said Sroubek had been granted a similar application earlier in the year, despite the opposition of the police.
      2009: Sroubek bought a house for $490,000, using mainly cash deposits made into his bank accounts, together with a mortgage. He funded the mortgage installments through cash payments.
      2009: No income was declared on Sroubek’s tax return.
      2009: Czech police contact New Zealand immigration authorities, according to Immigration consultant and former minister Tuariki Delamere.
      2011: Sroubrek was found guilty of supplying false information to the Immigration, and of having a false passport. After completing 200 hours of community service he was discharged without conviction, avoiding any risk of deportation.
      2011: Sroubrek was charged for being a party to the manufacture of a Class C controlled drug. He was convicted, but that conviction was quashed, and a retrial never went ahead. on appeal.
      2013: An arrest warrant is issued for Sroubek in 2013 for outstanding criminal proceedings.
      2015: Czech Republic contact New Zealand to indicate they “may be interested” in requesting Sroubek’s extradition.
      3 June 2016: Sentenced in the Auckland District Court for the offence of importing MDMA.
      2016: Sroubek sells his property he had bought in 2009.
      2017: He appealed his drug conviction, saying the verdict was unreasonable and the initial investigation flawed. The appeal was dismissed.
      19 September 2018: Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway writes a letter to Sroubek saying he determined that the 37-year-old holds a residence class visa in a false identity, making him liable for deportation. However, the minister cancelled the liability for deportation and granted Sroubek residency under his real name.
      28 October 2018: Sroubek is denied parole, with the parole board considering him unsafe to release back into the community. He is due to be reassessed in a year.
      30 October 2018: Mr Lees-Galloway stands by his decision to grant Sroubek residency.
      31 October 2018: Newstalk ZB reports that Sroubek had already been back to the Czech Republic
      31 October 2018: Mr Lees-Galloway announces an urgent review into his decision to grant Sroubek residency after receiving “new information”.
      31 October 2018: Simon Bridges calls for Iain Lees-Galloway’s resignation and confirms the case never went before the immigration minister in the National government.
      1 November 2018: Court documents confirm Sroubek returned to Europe in 2009, although it is not clear whether he visited the Czech Republic.
      1 November 2018: Mr Lees-Galloway orders an investigation into aspects of the case but does not give details due to “strong” legal reasons.
      1 November 2018: In Parliament, Mr Lees-Galloway repeatedly refuses to answer questions about the case from the National Party.
      2 November 2018: The Czech Republic said it was soon to launch efforts to extradite Sroubek from New Zealand.

      and now we have the twist and backflip.

      Reply
  10. oh dear.. Mr L-G accepted the advice from his ‘officials’ & now realised he should have looked deeper. ‘He should be hung out to dry’ according to Natl

    btw; I hear that the Immigration Minister (under Natl) for 9 loooong years did exactly the same; accepting the recommendations of the officials ! :/

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 29, 2018

      They probably wouldn’t give a recommendation in a case like this as the Minister has total discretion. They most likely gave a reasonably detailed summary of his immigration and criminal history known facts from the file. Summaries can be slanted or leading, I guess, but we don’t know if it was – and I can’t see how any immigration officials would benefit from his making a decision that went one way or the other. What’s at issue here is whether Lees-Galloway, a busy Minister, got given all the information that should have been in the summary, and read a file with all relevant significant papers tagged. No public servant would expect a busy Minister to go googling a case.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  November 29, 2018

        Two points;

        *It didn’t matter what info they gave him as he didn’t take time to read it all. 45 minutes top to make his decision.

        *He had total discretion. The people giving him the info probably thought even a blind man could see Sroubek was no good for the country – the fact he entered the country on a false passport and then committed crimes should have been the end of him. Not to mention Lees-Galloway gave him permanent residency which he didn’t even ask for.

        Reply
  11. duperez

     /  November 29, 2018

    A word used several times on RNZ this morning to describe Lees-Galloway was ‘dangerous.’

    Michael Woodhouse was quoted as wanting Lees-Galloway to resign to “protect New Zealanders from the possibility of what he calls another dangerous and inept decision like this one.”

    If he is a danger to the country because he let Sroubek stay in the country, is Woodhouse himself dangerous because under his ministership, according to what was said in Parliament yesterday, sex offenders, rapists were allowed to stay in the country?

    This morning he said he was ” dumbfounded.” If he can’t see the ease of associating the essence of the ‘dangerous Minister = Minister leaving felon in the country,’ to his own time, he’ll be living the first part of the word. If he expects us to not see the corollary, the same.

    Maybe to make it look less like silly political games Michael Woodhouse can show us how serious he is. He could announce publicly that he has told Simon Bridges he doesn’t want the immigration job after they win the next election because some fools might say he’s too dangerous.

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  November 29, 2018

      Good comment, duper. Some fools will fall for Woodhouse’s dishonest spin.

      Reply
  1. Lees-Galloway changes decision, Sroubek to be deported — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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