LAWFUEL – NZ Legal Jobs & News – “While Police are disappointed that consent has not been given for charges to be laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act we note the Solicitor-General’s endorsement that Police had a sufficient and proper basis for investigating the activities in question,” the Commissioner of Police, Howard Broad, said this afternoon.
Mr Broad was responding to the decision of the Solicitor-General, Dr David Collins, to decline authorisation of any prosecutions under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.
“The Solicitor-General’s tribute to the professionalism and integrity of the New Zealand Police in bringing to an end what he has described as very disturbing activities without a single shot being fired, injury or loss of life will buoy up my staff who have been the butt of considerable comment and criticism since October 15.
“Police accept the Solicitor-General’s decision secure in the knowledge that we have done our duty. We have investigated, gathered and analysed evidence, made arrests and laid charges before the courts and sought advice on other charges. This is a fundamental expectation that New Zealanders have of the Police – that we will intervene where public safety is at risk.
“It was unfortunate but unavoidable that the ‘terrorist’ term became associated publicly with this case and the people connected with it before the Solicitor-General had made his decision. We had to advise those subject to search warrants that our searches and inquiries related to potential offences under both the Arms Act and the Terrorism Suppression Act.
“That the Ruatoki Valley was the epicentre of military style training camps was a geographical fact not of Police’s making. We had a legitimate cause to conduct enforcement actions in the valley as part of this investigation.
“We are deeply concerned at the impact the operation has had on the people in the Ruatoki Valley and those who are connected to Tuhoe.
“We clearly appreciate that people were caught up in the termination of the Operation who were innocent. We regret the hurt and stress caused to the community of Ruatoki and we will seek an appropriate way to repair the damage done to Police/Maori relations.
“Now is not the time to issue a general apology. On the one hand it would be seen as a glib attempt to make the hurt go away. On the other it would be a great disservice to many of my staff who had the safety of all people uppermost in their minds during the police operations on Monday 15 October and who have not yet had the opportunity to undertake a full debrief.
“I note that Peter Williams, QC, acting on behalf of the Tuhoe people has said that he wishes to place evidence before me of what he considers to be unsatisfactory police actions. I believe he is correct in directing those representations to me and I will work out a way in which they can be looked at objectively and dispassionately, taking into account all the facts.
“While suggestions that relationships may have been set back 100 years may seem rather over the top, history tells us that episodes such as this can and do take decades to heal.
“I am confident that as a Police organisation, as a community and as a nation, we are mature enough to work through all the ramifications of what has gone on in recent weeks, to learn from it and to move forward.
“Emotions will run high on all sides. Police uphold the right of anyone to protest lawfully. We will continue to be vigilant, however, and act proportionately against anyone who threatens the peace or safety of other members of the community,” said Mr Broad.