Monday, March 02, 2015

A cover up

Ever since rumours that (now former) National MP Mike Sabin was being investigated by police were made public, the question on everyone's lips has been "what did the Prime Minister know and when did he know it?" Sabin has since resigned to spend more time with his lawyer, but the PM's ever-changing answers to that question have simply increased suspicion that he hasn't been telling us the truth.

Attempts to get answers out of Ministers have met with a wall of silence, even in Parliament. But there are other ways of getting answers out of the government. The police are subject to the Official Information Act, so someone used FYI, the public OIA request service, to ask when the police briefed their Minister. The response was that saying so would be "likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law including the prevention, investigation and detection of offences and the right to a fair trial".


This isn't a question about the detail of alleged offences or how they were detected or investigated. It doesn't ask for information that could prejudice a fair trial (and to the extent that briefing documents revealed any of these things, they could properly be withheld). What it primarily asks for is a date: when the police briefed their Minister (as is usual, and as has been admitted) under the "no surprises" policy. Its a question of political accountability, not of police procedure. And its very difficult to conceive of how it could possibly prejudice the maintenance of the law. Instead, it looks like the police are simply engaged in a political cover-up to benefit their political masters. And that is not what they are paid by Parliament for.

(Note: if releasing the information would be contrary to a suppression order, then it would be refused under s18(c))