Sroubek texts to Ardern released under OIA

Texts to the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the decision to grant Kaerl Sroubek residency were requested under the Official Information Act.

RNZ:  Texts to prime minister about Sroubek released

A text message from social justice campaigner Richie Hardcore to the prime minister thanked her for granting Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek residency.

Jacinda Ardern’s office released the text message following pressure from the Opposition last year.

The text message was in response to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway granting Sroubek residency.

The minister subsequently issued him a deportation notice after new information came to light.

Mr Hardcore’s text said he and his friends wanted to pass on their respects and praise for the residency decision and, while Sroubek had made a “bunch of really bad choices”, deep down he was a good guy.

Ms Ardern didn’t respond to the text, which was sent at the end of October, not long after Sroubek’s case hit the headlines and it was revealed Mr Lees-Galloway took less than an hour to approve his residency.

A second text message was also received by Ms Ardern on 9 November from convicted fraudster Alex Swney.

It said: “U r too polite to say it but I will – Bridges & the Nats r being bastards about this Sroubek saga. I want to assist with information I hve included in an email I hve copied u in on. If I can please advise [redacted] … Best – Alex.”

Swney spent time in prison with Sroubek.

A spokesperson for Ms Ardern…

…said the government was deporting Sroubek and “Ministers did not have all the critical information when making the first decision, but now that we have all the info he is being deported”.

“This correspondence proves the PM had no involvement in this case or any of the decisions made about it. Text messages to her were sent after the first decision. They were unsolicited and not replied to.

“People write to the prime minister and offer their opinions about government decisions every day. She can’t control their opinions but has taken the step of changing the phone number she’s had for years, to limit unsolicited contact on her phone.”

Surprising it has taken over a year to switch to a more private phone number.

National Party immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse:

“Why was Sroubek’s main supporter texting her directly to pass on his ‘respect and praise’ over the decision to allow Sroubek to stay in New Zealand in spite of Sroubek’s criminal history and the fact he came here on a false passport?”

“Why was one of Sroubek’s fellow inmates – Alex Swney – texting and emailing the prime minister information on the case, which has only now been revealed in spite of months of questioning? And what was that information and what is her relationship with Mr Swney?

“The whole thing stinks. Karel Sroubek should never have been granted residency, the government should never have tried to keep it secret, and the prime minister should not be involved in any way in such a decision, especially ones which allowed a convicted criminal to remain in New Zealand.”

Ardern’s office:

There had never been an issue with releasing the messages, “but [we] wanted to get guidance from the ombudsman to make sure we don’t infringe on others’ rights to privacy, the spokesperson said.

“Given that advice we are happy to release them now.”

On Friday afternoon, a time favoured for releasing unfavourable information, texts have been released.  Ardern is heading to Europe, which will increase the impression that she is avoiding fronting up on this issue.

Matthew Hooton was one of those who requested that the texts be released.

 

 

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67 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  19th January 2019

    Well it was the Prime Minister who regarding this matter said “We should read between the lines”.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th January 2019

      Woodhouse had grounds to deport this specimen years ago.

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  19th January 2019

        Pay attention you idiot.

        It was never brought before Woodhouse.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  19th January 2019

          I said he had grounds…

          2010: Arrested with two Hells Angels on aggravated robbery and blackmail charges. Guilt not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
          2011: Found guilty of using false passport and giving false details to Immigration officials
          2011: Arrested as part of Operation Ark, a covert investigation into Ecstasy-like pills.
          2012: Discharged without conviction on false identity charges
          2014: Convicted of manufacturing Class-C drug from Operation Ark arrest. Conviction overturned but Crown abandons second trial
          2014: Arrested importing 5kg of MDMA, a Class-B controlled drug, used in Ecstasy.
          2016: Convicted of importing MDMA and jailed for five years and nine months

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  19th January 2019

            Minister don’t sit around reading the crime section of the newspapers looking for anybody who might be an immigrant & should maybe be deported. They usually have other Ministerial portfolios too. Was this case ever referred to Woodhouse by Immigration New Zealand?

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  19th January 2019

              How did the present unruly’ travellers come to the attention of the authority to deport them?

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              As I understand it from the 1st and subsequent reports on 1ewes at 6 they were reported to police by a number of business owners whose staff members of the group had vocally abused, threatened, stole from, or tried to rip off.

              I expect the police probably contacted INZ immediately, seeing they were foreign visitors.

              They were dumb enuf for themselves and their vehicles to be captured on CCTV everywhere.

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              Also, the Minister of Immigration doesn’t need to be involved in serving them with deportation orders, INZ officers seem clearly to have the authority to do this themselves.

            • Blazer

               /  19th January 2019

              So if INZ officers who we know had the relevant info,failed to deport Sroubek,culpability lies witrh…them!

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              Certainly appears that way.

            • Blazer

               /  19th January 2019

              good o…ILG in the clear!

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              I think he was badly let down by INZ in this case and they should rightly wear the blame. I can well imagine what Sroubek’s file looks like – it’ll be a really thick dossier full of multiple overlapping message emails, forms, letters, official papers, maybe court decisions, reports, summaries, notes. I read somewhere that it’s in at least two parts.

              A file like that should be summarised and every especially relevant or important note or document should be tagged and listed in an annex. I’ve seen files like that with 30 tags or more.

              ILG’s mistake was not recognising that this referral & file needed a very thorough & careful read, not a quick once over. And he should perhaps have asked some questions. Ministers do. But the backgrounder and file still had relevant information (including that Sroubek had been back to the Czech republic safely) missing or not clearly marked and noted as significant.

              He and by extension the government have paid a heavier price so far than INZ for their inadequacy.

  2. NOEL

     /  19th January 2019

    Geez Matthew as a reporter you should have anticipated the result.
    When Vietnam Veterans were told by the Agent Orange Joint Working Group that they would not be privy to the negotiations with the Government and would not be told what the recommendations were naturally thinking veterans suspected a rat and OIAed.

    The answer was because it had been conducted out of the Prime Ministers Office no minutes were taken .

    Reply
  3. Chuck Bird

     /  19th January 2019

    I assume that the text was sent to Cindy’s official phone and not a private phone. I wonder how many National MPs give their mobile numbers to convicted fraudsters.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th January 2019

      is Hardcore a convicted …fraudster?

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th January 2019

      Nationals partner…

      ‘] An affidavit, which recorded that Rodney Hide MP’s presence as a speaker at an investment seminar in Fiji had given a man and his family the confidence to invest, was reported in an item broadcast on One News on 15 May 2002. It was also reported that the scheme turned out to be a scam. ‘

      Reply
      • Rodney Hide

         /  19th January 2019

        The real fraud turned out to be the Labour MP who prepared that affidavit and told the poor fellow if he signed it he would help him get his money back.

        The story ran without anyone knowing who the author was.

        When I finally tracked the poor fellow down he was very apologetic and offered a full retraction.

        I doubt he ever voted Labour again!

        Rodney

        Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  19th January 2019

      So Chuck Bird dare you say that libelous statement to Hardcores face,no I dont think so just another rightwing keyboard warrior

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  19th January 2019

      Hey Chuck…talking fraud…ever heard of Doug Graham…I mean Sir Douglas Graham!Bol.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  19th January 2019

        Didnt a couple of Nats Mps appear in ‘promotional material for an investment fraudster in the mid 2000s.
        Lockwood Smith looking at you

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  19th January 2019

          Rodney was a speaker at a seminar; he had no connection with the scammer or the scam. It was no reflection on him that the person was a crook. How could he possibly know that ? They didn’t include that in the invitation.

          People have been sucked in by con artists since time immemorial. Some people I know were; they were fooled by a visiting clergyman who offered an investment at good interest. They, of course, got their money and the interest back, and as they were all respected church people, others saw no reason not to invest with the clergyman as well. Needless to say, to the distress of the pawns, the money and the clergyman left the country together.

          An investment adviser I know was conned by an English visitor and his clients lost money. No fault of John, but he and his wife sold their Auckland house and BMWs and paid back the money…he then went to the UK and tracked down the thief, who was given a long stretch. John and his wife went from a lovely life in a Herne Bay house to an ordinary house in a small town, no money and a 2nd hand Jap import. None of these people were idiots by any means, but they were still conned.

          Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  19th January 2019

    Reply
    • alloytoo

       /  19th January 2019

      You know hardly ever (Never in fact) see Non-National boardings that have been vandalized,

      Even in National strongholds, it’s always the National boards that are damaged.

      As they say, a picture says a thousand words (especially about respect for other people’s property)

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  19th January 2019

        The feral left Allo, happens all over the world. Nasty chronic vandalising snivellers.

        https://www.dailywire.com/news/10444/somebody-kept-driving-over-trump-supporters-sign-chase-stephens

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  19th January 2019

          ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ as the saying really goes, and that one is in several ways, saying far more about the pathetic spite of the person who did the vandalising.

          In the Waikato, when Sue Moroney was MP, some of her posters read

          Labour (ticked box)

          Moroney (ticked box)

          It was asking for someone to come along with red paint or red felt pen and neatly cover up the -ey of Moroney, and people did.

          We had the C of Crime changed to a G on one that said that Act was tough on crime. 😀

          Reply
    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  19th January 2019

      You’re a nasty piece of work Blazer… surprised you didn’t pasted in a picture of the more normal anti-semite defacing of Key billboards the Left seem to have like so much in 2008, 2011 and 2014 election campaigns..

      you not going to go that far anymore Bol?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  19th January 2019

        Key is the nasty piece of work…where are all the company registrations since the Panama papers reveal?

        Reply
        • Trevors_Elbow

           /  20th January 2019

          see my comment above. You have a huge problem – let it go. ‘Nasty piece of work’ that is a classic projection. Key is a success in life off his own bat, and You.Can’t.Handle.It. Had a few failures in your life BOL? Struggling and looking for someone, anyone to blame… pathetic….

          Reply
  5. duperez

     /  19th January 2019

    One of the major things to come out of this will be Simon Bridges introducing some bill about governments not being able to release information on Fridays. Friday apparently is a sort of ‘non-day.’
    He will get full media support no doubt. The MSM don’t like stuff coming out on Friday because it’s followed by Saturday and Sunday when people don’t work – except for all those who do work.
    They might get Simon’s support to include stuff like no murders happening from Thursday midnight, or road crashes or big fires or storms. Or anything. A restart can be made from 9.00am on Monday morning.

    The scummy game of politics is played as it is. Simon Bridges expects the government to give him any and every type of stick he can use to beat them with. Or anything like a feather or a paua shell or piece of cotton he can turn into a stick for the same. When it’s Friday and it’s a piece of cotton and he reaches into the intellect bag and drags out “cynical Friday” it’s not a stick. Sounds the same but starts with ‘th’ or ‘pathe.’ Or ‘d.’

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  19th January 2019

      The point (that you seem to be diverting from) is a govt preaching ‘most open and transparent ever’ is regularly dumping controversial stuff late on a Friday, just before Xmas break and often just prior to Ardern heading off overseas.

      “The scummy game of politics is played as it is.” – is this the same ‘scummy game’ that Ardern signalled she wouldn’t be party to as part of her ‘nicer’ way of doing politics?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  19th January 2019

        at the risk of repeating myself..Friday dumps are bi partisan behaviour.

        Reply
  6. alloytoo

     /  19th January 2019

    The release of these texts is extremely disturbing, it’s very difficult not to conclude that the PM attempted to mislead Parliament and the public, and that there was undue intervention in this case.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  19th January 2019

      a text sent to a widely shared Mps phone number ?

      John Key would say – ‘never read it’-™

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  19th January 2019

        Well, maybe, but he’s not the PM any more – and Jacinda did read it and at least she released it, even if on a Friday.

        This government seems to have made such a habit of Friday dumps of potentially awkward documents or reports that they might just as well release them on other days. The media shark pack all seem to make a point of turning up & hanging around waiting for the offal to get thrown into the sea on a Friday, and it only gives the Oppos the opportunity to come up with a quick barb for the Friday night tv news and the weekend to work out their questions and attack strategy for the following week.

        They are more effective on attack than Labour were, even if they always get tiresomely repetitive in the end. They’ve certainly been given plenty of ammo last year.

        Reply
  7. David

     /  19th January 2019

    It must be a nod nod wink wink thing this not getting a reply from Ardern, kinda “I got the message, thanks” and then because she doesnt reply she has wriggle room to obfuscate for months and months.
    Its not her fault that people are texting her but its her doing everything to not admit it makes her look a little shifty.

    Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  19th January 2019

    I don’t think there’s anything in this, although I can understand why National and their supporters (or any of Labour’s opponents) want to milk it for all they can get.

    There’s been a strong element of incredible naivety throughout Jacinda’s first year. I don’t think anyone can accuse her of being a genius. In many ways she came into the job something of a dreamy-eyed overgrown teenager who had basically had a cruisy time ever since she left varsity. She’d accomplished nothing of note.

    I really don’t think it ever occurred to her that thinking it would be lovely, even inspirational, to be a young, female, friendly PM, easily accessible to anybody on her mobile, could cause her all sorts of problems – because ratbags and nutcases could text or ring her as well as any of her old days friends or random members of the public her number got passed to.

    This needs to be her year of being a proper grown-up.

    Reply
      • Gezza

         /  19th January 2019

        Hang on, I’ll have a look. 😐

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  19th January 2019

          Nope. Not spurious at all. Woodhouse wouldn’t be making these claims and getting away with it if there was any evidence on that file that he had ever had the case referred to him to consider deportation.

          And there is no possibility any such evidence would have been removed from the file. It is far too dangerous for a public servant to do that.

          This case fell right through the cracks. Maybe INZ at the time was undergoing one of those interminable routine restructurings the Public Service has been afflicted with ever since the Lange/Douglas Administration or something?

          The Immigration Service in this case has dropped the ball constantly, from what I have seen reported to date. Utterly hopeless on this one.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  19th January 2019

            big escape clause…’, Woodhouse said the matter never came over this desk ‘.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              Big cock up by INZ not referring it to him or an associate Minister.
              From what we know of Woodhouse he might well have chucked him out. Would have saved INZ & ILG heaps of embarrassment.

            • Duker

               /  19th January 2019

              Doesnt seem to deny it came to his ‘office in box’

              Anyway National immigration ministers had their legal ministerial authority ‘delegated back to Immigration officials’
              https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2017/04/woodhouse_removes_delegation_from_immigration_nz.html
              Its a common public service get out doing their job card.
              Ministers may have seen a ‘list of the files to be decided’ and picked out the ones they wanted to deal with , other were left in the too hard basket for officials to shoulder the blame if it all went to custard
              https://www.stuff.co.nz/Immigration-bungle-blamed-on-computers

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              You’ve got that the wrong way round. Ministerial decision-making powers can’t be delegated down by Ministers to Immigration officers. They are reserved to the Minister.

              Woodhouse stopped INZ from using a legal delegation they already had because he wasn’t satisfied they were making sound enuf judgements. I find that interesting because he probably didn’t have legal authority to do as he says he did – but he may have directed that certain types of cases were to be referred to him & the Head of INZ just capitulated.

            • Duker

               /  19th January 2019

              Woodhouse did delegate his ministerial powers – happens ALL THE TIME

              “PURSUANT to section 380 of the Immigration Act 2009 and effective from the date of signing I, Michael Allan Woodhouse, Minister of Immigration, hereby:
              Additional Powers Delegated:

              On granting a resident visa as an exception to residence instructions, the power under s 50(1) to impose conditions in addition to those specified in the applicable residence instructions (if any); or to vary or waive conditions that would otherwise apply to a visa of that type;
              Following the grant of a resident visa, the power under s 50(2) to, by special direction, impose further conditions whether or not the conditions are specified in the applicable residence instructions (if any); or vary or cancel conditions that would otherwise apply to the visa or were imposed under s 50(1);
              The power under s 71(5) to grant a residence class visa, as a matter of absolute discretion, to a person to whom s 71(4) of the Act applies;
              The power under s72(2) to give a special direction allowing a residence application received by an immigration officer in the first instance to be considered by the Minister;
              The power under s 72(3) to grant a residence class visa as an exception to residence instructions;
              The power under s 94(4) to, by special direction, issue an invitation to apply for a visa to a person whether or not the person has expressed his or her interest in the manner required by the Act or immigration instructions;
              The power under s 172(1) to, as a matter of absolute discretion, cancel a person’s liability for deportation where deportation liability arises under ss 156(1)(a), 158(1)(a), 161, or 162;
              The power under s 172(2) to, as a matter of absolute discretion, suspend a residence class visa holder’s liability for deportation where deportation liability arises under ss 156(1)(a), 158(1)(a), 161, or 162. Any suspension of liability may be set for a period not exceeding 5 years, and may be made subject to any conditions which are to be stated in the written notice of suspension.
              The power under s 174(2) to determine that a person has met the conditions imposed by the Minister under s 172(2) for the period of the suspension, to cancel that person’s liability for deportation, and notify the person and the Tribunal of that fact.
              The power under s 213(5) to determine that a person has met any conditions imposed by the Tribunal under section 212(1) for the duration of the suspension, cancel the person’s liability for deportation, and notify the Tribunal accordingly

              https://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/67681.htm

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              I was just about to post a rider to my comment above, clarifying that.

              That’s a standard legal format. Most Immigration officers powers beyond those to simply grant refuse or cancel visas in limited circumstances are delegated from the MInister’s authority under the Act and always have been. The delegations are simply rolled over and updated when necessary when the Act is updated or changed. Ministers just sign them. And my bet is that the INZ prepared and sent that delegation to the Minister.

              It is highly unusual for a Minister to direct that a senior immigration officer’s delegation be withdrawn. But he did. And legally, he can. It would have caused quite a stir.

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              Hmm. That’s interestng. Looks like the last major overhaul of the Immigration Act included a delegation to INZ’s chief executive to delegate most powers to immigration and INZ officers that used to be in an extensive set of schedules at different levels that their Minister signed.
              Makes sense. They were routine delegations, and it explains why there’s only one Ministerial delegation for nominated top tier managers now.

              https://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/#45426.htm

            • Gezza

               /  19th January 2019

              Its a common public service get out doing their job card.

              No it’s not. It’s common legal way to draft acts and delegations thereafter are the source of powers for officials – it enables changes in policies or practice to be handled by way of a simple document from legal via the CEO to the MInister without having to go to all the time, trouble and expense of drafting, submitting, and passing amendments to Acts & Regulations.

              I remember a time when so many decisions were reserved to Ministers they simply couldn’t deal with the sheer volume of cases that ended up on their desks as every man woman and their granny, brother or aunty wanted the Minister to say yes when their officials said no. .

  9. Gerrit

     /  19th January 2019

    The way the Blazer is running interference for Ardern, the way he is throwing “whataboutism” around, like confetti, regarding the National party…one could deduct and understand there must be more to this “affair” yet to be uncovered.

    The fact it was released late Friday afternoon, with Ardern away on her overseas junket, perhaps there is more to this story?

    The message from the people like Blazer are certainly not the Clark style “move on, nothing to see here” type.

    But more the squirrel type “they did it too” variety.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  19th January 2019

      Someone on a public blog site goes into political mode and it means that “one could deduct and understand there must be more to this “affair” yet to be uncovered”?

      I don’t read closely enough or think about the angles enough to know about Blazer. I deduct from your first paragraph comment that you credit (?) him/her with being right in the thick of the inner circles with the PM to the extent of knowing there’s more to be uncovered so is running interference.

      Squirrels? Your contention would seem to be nuts.

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  19th January 2019

        One simply questions why the squirrel (red herrings/straw man) arguments from Blazer in trying to draw the argument and discussion away from the Ardern emails.

        Blazer; who knows who he/she is and what they do or work for or what their political agenda is.

        Drawing the conclusions from his/her attempt to diffuse the discussion with irrelevant “whataboutisms” that the Ardern emails are a touchy subject.

        You aware where the term “squirrels”, in relation to trying to derail a discussion, comes from?

        Nothing to do with nuts by the way.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  19th January 2019

          I know where red herring comes from; trying to distract hounds with the scent of the fish and making them lose the fox. It did seem odd to read it in a Trollope as a literal thing, not as it’s used of whodunnits.

          Squirrels move very fast, so someone who is easily distracted is a squirrel seer ? I saw a red one in London and wanted to take a photo, but the camera wasn’t wound on and when Nutkin heard the sound, he was gone.

          How about a Kiwi version? Geckos move at the speed of light, too.

          Reply
          • Gerrit

             /  19th January 2019

            My understanding is that the full term is “oh, look over there a squirrel” when someone is trying to derail the discussion away from its intent..

            As we don’t have squirrels in New Zealand it simply means that the discussion is being derailed by someone to look at something that is is not there.

            Bit like flying pigs or trolls under bridges. They exist in our minds only.

            I use the term “Blazing Squirrels” as Blazer has a habit of introducing sidetracking “whataboutisms” without ever entering into the discussion.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  20th January 2019

              It’s a bit tired by now and must be due for replacement.

  10. Alan Wilkinson

     /  19th January 2019

    So: Friday => Labour dirt meets carpet underlay.

    Reply

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