Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So much for an independent police force

Yesterday, the police announced that they would not be laying charges against freelance journalist Bradley Ambrose over the "teapot tape". The decision, with its public assertion of guilt, seemed to be aimed primarily at saving face for the police (who it turns out didn't even have enough evidence to satisfy themselves that Ambrose was guilty), and the Prime Minister, whose complaint had sparked the whole thing. And now it turns out that the entire thing was timed for the Prime Minister's convenience, released when he was overseas and could not be questioned about it:

Lawyers for freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose, Prime Minister John Key, and the police struck a deal over the so-called "teapot tape" affair more than a week ago.

However, news of the deal, which involved Mr Key and Act's Epsom MP, John Banks, accepting a "letter of regret" from Ambrose in return for the complaint against him being dropped, emerged only yesterday with Mr Key in South Korea.

So, a prosecutorial decision was influenced by the Prime Minister, and timed for his media convenience. So much for our supposedly independent police force. But it gets worse. Here's Ambrose's version of events:
The letter was sent to Mr Key's lawyers last Monday after Crown prosecutors had telephoned him to say there was a prima facie case against Ambrose, but he said he "wanted to make it go away".
Which looks quite interesting in light of DPF's post yesterday about how influence is never in writing.

Of course, both the Prime Minister and Police are denying any influence. Well, they would, wouldn't they? But more importantly, it doesn't matter. There's the appearance of influence, of the police kicking in doors at the command of the Prime Minister, then dropping everything when it becomes politically inconvenient. The damage has already been done.