As a senior member of the New Zealand Police, I would like to respond to allegations that the police were remiss in not prosecuting ACT Party MP the Hon John Banks.
Mr Banks was last week found guilty in the High Court of knowingly filing a false electoral return. The case against Mr Banks was the result of a private prosecution, after we declined to lay charges against the MP.
It is not my place to speculate on whether or not the verdict was justified. But let me assure you that the police did not have any predisposition towards Mr Banks, despite the fact that he was a high-profile police minister some years ago, who pursued tough law and order policies very much to our liking. To suggest that we took it easy on Mr Banks for that reason is an insult to the integrity of our officers.
Likewise, to suggest that during the “teapot tapes” matter we pursued a tough line against Bradley Ambrose because he caused embarrassment and offence to Mr Banks, a man many of us respect and admire, would also be highly offensive.
In the case of the allegations made against Mr Banks, we conducted a thorough investigation of all of the evidence laid before us, and we utilised every resource at our disposal in conducting that investigation. I am unable to confirm whether those resources included earplugs and blindfolds for investigation team members.
At the end of our investigation we concluded that there was insufficient evidence to lay charges, and we therefore decided not to proceed with a prosecution. Mr Banks was subsequently prosecuted by a private individual, resulting in a high court judge determining that Mr Banks was guilty of an offence.
I do not wish to speculate on the reasoning applied by the judge or whether the guilty verdict was justified, but I do wish to stand behind the work done by our officers, including those who reviewed the investigation file. With the benefit of hindsight, it may have been better if we had prosecuted this terrific upstanding member of the community who also happens to be a powerful man with lots of money, and whose chief accuser happens to be a person we all despise and are working desperately to remove from New Zealand.
But you may rest assured that in deciding not to prosecute we acted with the very best motives, and with integrity and honesty. We reviewed the evidence, and we determined that the evidence was insufficient for a prosecution to be brought.
There is no police corruption here. We may have been disgracefully, eye-wateringly incompetent, but we are not dirty.
Now please move along, as we wish to put this entire incident behind us as quickly as we can, before too many questions are asked.