The controversy over the investigation into the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha continues this week as the release of the findings are delayed.
Haumaha’s appointment to one of the top policing jobs was called into question following revelations he backed police officers accused of raping Louise Nicholas.
Bullying allegations from 2016 then surfaced, and are now subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).
The investigation into the process of Haumaha’s appointment had a false start due to a conflict of interest, and was then extended, but has now concluded.
However, the findings are yet to be released.
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said she was the only one who had a copy of the report. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also aware of the findings, she said. And Cabinet met on Monday to discuss the release of the report.
But a wider circle of people involved – including the Police Commissioner – had not seen the report, and would not be briefed until those mentioned in the report had the chance to see it, Martin said.
It had now been almost a week since the Minister received the report, and the opposition is accusing her of cynically delaying the release as Parliament approaches a two-week recess.
On Thursday, National Party police spokesman Chris Bishop said the “farce” continued, when Police Commissioner Mike Bush refused to answer questions about the Haumaha inquiry and related issues during a Justice Select Committee hearing.
Bush was in front of the Parliamentary committee for the annual review of New Zealand Police. The Government was aware of the scheduled hearing, and Bishop accused Martin of delaying the release of the report until after Bush’s appearance, so he could avoid questions.
“It was a very concerning performance by the Police Commissioner this morning,” Bishop said.
“He was put in that position by the Government. It was a cynical decision by the Government to delay the release of a very important report.”
Bush refused to answer almost all questions put to him relating to Haumaha and the inquiry, other than to say Haumaha had been “working remotely” throughout the process.
He also said police had received legal advice that it was not up to Bush to fire Haumaha, or remove him from his role, if that was the necessary course of action.
“Every question put to the Commissioner about the report was met with stonewall defence,” Bishop said.
But Martin described Bishop’s accusations the Government had cynically delayed the report’s release as “silliness”.
The Minister said she was following the instructions of the QC in charge of the investigation, and the law.
“As soon as we can release it, because we will stop this silliness from Mr Bishop, we will release it.”
When asked why Bush had not been briefed, she said nobody had a copy of the report, other than her, because the process was not yet complete.
Martin said she planned to release the entire report publicly. If those mentioned in the report have not signed off on its release by Friday afternoon, it is understood the report will be released regardless next week.