The Sunday Star Times broke the news yesterday that Northland MP Mike Sabin is in trouble paradoxically with the police. The allegation was that he was facing an assault investigation.
Details were scarce but there was this cryptic comment by someone associated with the complainant:
I can’t say much mate, sorry. I just don’t need the grief at the moment.”
The Herald this morning has more details. The article contains the following:
Prime Minister John Key yesterday refused to comment, instead directing media queries to police. However, police also refused to confirm either receiving a complaint or any investigation into allegations against the former detective and anti-methamphetamine campaigner.
Nevertheless, the Herald understands senior Northland National Party figures have already been discussing potential candidates to replace him in the event of a byelection.
Party president Peter Goodfellow told the Herald National’s hierarchy was unaware of any allegations, historical or recent, against Mr Sabin before this year’s general election. He refused to comment further.
A couple of interesting aspects arise from this. Firstly Key’s silence is interesting. He is willing to pontificate on the most banal of subjects but in this case he is clamming up. It will be interesting to find out when the party first found out about this allegation.
Secondly the talk of a by election suggests that the maximum penalty for the offence being investigated may be two years or more imprisonment, thereby triggering a vacancy in his seat under section 55 of the Electoral Act 1993. There are a variety of different types of assaults under the Crimes Act 1961 and the Summary Offences Act 1981. The maximum penalty for a Summary Offences Act assault is six months jail. Under the Crimes Act 1961 a straight forward assault has a maximum penalty of one year’s jail. It is only the more severe offences which include male assaults female or assault of a child, or assault or injuring or wounding with intent that would qualify as a vacancy creating offence. The apparent time taken with the investigation suggests that it is not of a minor nature.
Whatever the nature of the allegation until it is resolved Sabin should be stood down as chair of Parliament’s Law and Order select committee.
Cameron Slater thinks that Sabin is gone and that a by election is inevitable (donotlink link). Time will tell …