Auckland barrister Tudor Clee, who has been assisting journalist Charlotte Bellis with her attempts to return home to give birth to her child, told Radio New Zealand he had been asked for similar help from around 30 pregnant women seeking to return home.
Clee told RNZ there were around 200 women who had been in a similar position but there was no idea of how safe they or their babies were when he took on the initiative of assisting such people.
Since then he and another lawyer have helped over 30 couples who knew to contact them. Seven of those cases have gone to the High Court to get the women home safely, he said.
He said that the 14 day window for MIQ applications showed that the administering Ministry, MBIE, did not understand the issue and there were exemptions for those who needed more time, such as Charlotte Bellis’ case where she would be attempting to leave from one of the most unreliable airports in the world, being Kabul Airport.
He took three judicial reviews to the High Court last year and Crown Law was required to look at the individual cases. One issue was that MBIE were not placing womens’ health as a priority.
He referred to the range of medical and other authorities including leading science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman who acknowledge the clear risk to womens’ health, as well as the health of their unborn babies, by denying them the ability to return to New Zealand.
Suggestions that Charlotte Bellis apply under a different category for a right to re-enter her home country was “confusing”, Tudor Clee said and moreover it would be even dishonest for her to reply to such a suggestion. “It’s a very bizarre circumstance,” he said and MBIE should deal with the matter as a pregnancy application.
Tudor Clee has followed an unorthodox career path, identifying both as a lawyer and fashion designer. He is something of a global lawyer in terms of his travel, which includes his operation of a website devoted to his passion for both travel and providing children with a greater ability to understand the world.
His practice has seen him achieve the status of being the most requested defense lawyer in New Zealand, claiming on his website that he ran the largest practice in the country by caseload. He then held the record of handling more legal aid cases than anyone in the country, handling 599 cases in 2009, earning him $431,000 from legal aid and working around 85 hours a week.
Currently in El Salvador with his own baby, the peripatetic lawyer has added a somewhat unusual specialty to his already extensive defense practice.
But it remains as one of the several elements the sometimes-Auckland-based barrister has added to his unique repetoire.