An Embarrassment of Judges: The Wanaka Escapees See Red Faces And Anger All Round

An Embarrassment of Judges: The Wanaka Escapees See Red Faces And Anger All Round 2

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Lawyer Hannah Rawnsley actions in fleeing to Wanaka with partner William Willis has embarrassed at least two District Court judges, being her partner’s mother and the co-owner of the Wanaka house, District Court Judge Josephine Bouchier.

fled alert level 4 with her partner William Willis using essential worker exemptions to go to Hamilton, from where they took a commercial flight to Central Otago.

The couple took a commercial flight to Queenstown via Wellington, then rented a vehicle and drove to Wanaka.

Police said they were notified via the Covid-19 compliance reporting tool online, and found the pair on Saturday afternoon.

Willis is the son of Auckland district court judge Mary-Beth Sharp.

A spokesman for the Office of the Chief District Court Judge said Judge Sharp advised the chief judge of the situation and she ‘‘was not involved in any way in relation to the actions of her son and his partner’’.

‘‘To avoid any potential conflict of interest, the chief district court judge has put in place arrangements for a judge of the Wellington District Court to deal with any proceedings in relation to this matter,’’ the spokesman said.

The Wanaka holiday home is jointly owned by Willis’ father Robert, barrister Tony Bouchier and his wife, district court judge Josephine Bouchier.

Law Society president, Tiana Epati, said lawyers are provided with an official letter to travel to priority court hearings.

She said this is the only travel permit provided to lawyers, who are not essential workers.

“We don’t really know that there’s anything else she would have been able to point to. And if that’s the case, that she has used her lawyer status to get across the border, then I join probably all of the legal profession in being extremely disappointed.”

“If any lawyer was proved to have misused this letter, not only would that be considered a disciplinary matter but they will have let the entire legal profession down.”

“Just on the basis of that we would have to have a look at it and that’s because under the rules just bringing the reputation of the legal profession into disrepute requires looking into.”

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