Com­mis­sioner silent on Haumaha post­ing

Bay of Plenty Times - - Nation - Her­ald

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Mike Bush con­tin­ues to have con­fi­dence in Wally Haumaha, though he will not be drawn on any ques­tions about the in­quiries into his con­tro­ver­sial ap­point­ment as Deputy Com­mis­sioner.

Po­lice top brass were grilled yes­ter­day by MPs on the jus­tice se­lect com­mit­tee dur­ing an at-times heated hear­ing, as Na­tional MPs sought an­swers from Bush about Haumaha’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments and al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing against him.

An in­quiry, com­pleted by Mary Scholtens QC, has been handed to the Govern­ment and looked at the process lead­ing up to Haumaha’s ap­point­ment — but is yet to be pub­licly re­leased.

The Scholtens in­quiry was an­nounced af­ter the re­vealed com­ments made by Haumaha dur­ing the Oper­a­tion Austin probe into po­lice cul­ture in 2004, which fol­lowed rape al­le­ga­tions by Louise Ni­cholas.

Haumaha was friends with

Brad Ship­ton, Bob Schol­lum and Clint Rickards, who Ni­cholas ac­cused of rape.

They claimed the group sex with Ni­cholas was con­sen­sual and were found not guilty at the 2006 trial but the jury was un­aware Ship­ton and Schol­lum were al­ready in prison on other rape charges.

Haumaha was in­ter­viewed for Oper­a­tion Austin and spoke highly of his friends, de­scrib­ing Ship­ton as a “softie” and Schol­lum as a “leg­end” with women.

He also de­scribed Ni­cholas’ al­le­ga­tions as “a non­sense” and that “noth­ing re­ally hap­pened and we have to stick to­gether”.

At the com­mit­tee, Bush re­peat­edly re­fused to

Haumaha.

Na­tional MP Chris Bishop asked if the ap­point­ment was a risk to the progress po­lice had made.

“Did you know about those com­ments when Mr Haumaha was be­ing pro­moted from as­sis­tant to deputy com­mis­sioner?

“Do you ac­cept that it is a rea­son­able re­sponse for peo­ple to worry about the cul­ture of po­lice with the sec­ond in com­mand . . . be­ing on the record so pub­licly hav­ing said those re­marks?”

Bush replied that he did not want to an­swer be­fore the in­quiry is re­leased, adding his as­sur­ance that po­lice will con­tinue to make progress and that “we are now in a re­ally good space”.

Na­tional MP Nick Smith said Labour MPs had blocked a mo­tion to post­pone the hear­ing un­til af­ter the in­quiry was re­leased, say­ing it was “cyn­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion by the po­lice and the Govern­ment”.

Labour MPs said they wanted to call Bush back to the com­mit­tee af­ter the in­quiry was re­leased — if ap­pro­pri­ate.

Smith said Haumaha’s com­ments had prompted Ni­cholas to doubt how much po­lice cul­ture had im­proved.

“She has said pub­licly the ap­point­ment to Deputy Com­mis­sioner has un­der­mined con­fi­dence that po­lice has ac­tu­ally moved for­ward. Why should we have con­fi­dence when Louise Ni­cholas doesn’t?”

Bush said the pub­lic can have con­fi­dence in the health of po­lice cul­ture, and he re­mained com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing progress. an­swer ques­tions about

Mike Bush

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