23 Dec 2003

Cooks opposition may seek legal action over Lyon permit process

4:51 pm on 23 December 2003

A legal challenge could be mounted in the Cook Islands to the prime minister granting a residency permit to New Zealander, Mark Lyon.

Lyon has several convictions, including the possession of firearms.

Temu Okotai, the secretary of the opposition Cook Islands party, says they're seeking legal advice as to whether the prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton, ignored the act when he overrode the immigration service and handed out the permit.

Mr Okotai says they're also pursuing whether there was a conflict of interest with Lyon's lawyer, MP Norman George, who is an adviser to Dr Woonton and have concerns over the trust fund account.

He says the decisions that have been made need to be questioned.

"The concern is not just because of Mark Lyon. I mean, he has the right to ask to stay here. It is our people, our decision makers who have to make the decision that is for the good of this country and the only good they can justify about this person is..he's got plenty of money."

The Cook Islands police commissioner says a decision will be made shortly about whether to hold an investigation into the activities of Mark Lyon.

Pira Wichman says a letter of complaint has been received, outlining concerns people had about Lyon, who was granted a residency permit by the prime minister despite being declined one by the immigration service.

Mr Wichman says he is being briefed.

The letter's been made public now so basically what it is, is they're asking the police whether we are aware of any, or whether we are dealing with any complaints against members of the Lyon family using restricted or illegal substances and if we are carrying out any investigations.

The police commissioner says if a decision is made to launch an investigation, that won't necessarily be made public.