This story first appeared on RNZ and is republished with permission
Troubled minister taken into custody on Sunday night after car crash
Justice Minister Kiri Allan has resigned from all portfolios after being charged with careless driving and failing to accompany a police officer, after a Sunday night car crash in Wellington.
She also recorded an alcohol breath test over the legal level but at what was considered an infringement offence.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he advised Allan it was not appropriate for a justice minister to be involved in criminal offending and she was not in a state to be sitting in Cabinet.
Allan said this morning: “Over recent weeks I’ve faced a number of personal difficulties. I took time off to address those, and believed I was okay to juggle those challenges with the pressure of being a minister.
“My actions yesterday show I wasn’t okay, and I’ve let myself and my colleagues down. I accept that my position as a minister is untenable.
“I’m very sorry for my actions, the harm they could have caused and the embarrassment it has placed on the Government and my colleagues.
“I’m heading home and will be taking time to consider my future in politics.”
Police said they received a report of a crash involving two vehicles.
“A person has been charged following a crash on Evans Bay Parade, Roseneath, last night shortly after 9pm.
“They have been charged with careless use of a motor vehicle, and refusing to accompany a police officer, and summonsed to appear in court at a later date.
“An infringement notice was also issued for excess breath alcohol between 250 and 400mcg.”
Hipkins said: “While her alleged actions are inexcusable, I’ve been advised she was experiencing extreme emotional distress at the time of the incident.
“Her recent personal struggles with mental health have been well documented and it appears some of those issues came to a head yesterday.
“Last night’s incident is evidence there are not always quick fixes when it comes to mental health, and the best thing for Kiri right now is to focus on her whanau and her wellbeing away from Parliament,” the PM said.
“I don’t provide this detail to diminish her actions, they were indefensible, but to provide context for the distressed circumstances she found herself in when the incident occurred.
“I will confirm the reallocation of her portfolios later today.”
Allan had returned to her full ministerial duties on Monday last week after taking some time away from Parliament due in part to a relationship break-up.
While she was taking a few days of mental health leave, separate allegations were reported regarding her treatment of staff, which she strongly denied.
She then took another two weeks off over Parliament’s recess.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins spoke to Allan on July 14, after returning from his trip to Europe and confirmed then she would return to work.
“I’m pleased she is in a much better space after taking some time off and getting some professional support,” he said.
“Mental wellbeing should never be a source of shame or embarrassment. I commend Kiri for speaking publicly about her recent struggles and I’ve been resolutely committed to supporting her through that.”
Allan also issued a blanket apology to “anyone who has found my behaviour towards them unacceptable” and Hipkins said she would receive workplace coaching.
Last Monday, Hipkins told reporters he considered the matter closed.
“Kiri gave me some assurances that she feels well, she’s in a good space to come back to work, and certainly the conversations I’ve had with her over the last week or so, the last few days, give me confidence in that.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Allan acknowledged she had gone through “a bit of a rough time”.
“I’ve struggled with my mental health for a good part of my adult life. That’s something I try not to shy away from.”
*An earlier version of this story, quoting the Prime Minister’s press statement, said Allan had been charged with reckless driving and resisting arrest. Police subsequently said it was careless use and failing to accompany an officer.