26 Feb 2024

Andersen apologises after saying Police Minister had been 'paid to kill' while working in Iraq

9:19 am on 26 February 2024
Labour MP Ginny Andersen

Ginny Andersen says it is unacceptable to personally attack someone. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Labour police spokesperson Ginny Andersen has publicly apologised for comments she made about Police Minister Mark Mitchell's private security work in Iraq.

"I apologise to Mark Mitchell. It is unacceptable to personally attack someone," she told Morning Report.

"It is not my usual standards ... I would like to apologise to any listeners who took offence to those comments I made."

Pressure had been mounting on Andersen since she said Mitchell had been "paid to kill" and had kept a tally of shooting people while working in private security in Iraq.

Mitchell worked as a security contractor in Iraq before setting up a private security company for the military and private interests.

"I was part of a very big logistics company that provided support and life support into areas that were hit by conflict or weather events and things like that and I'm very proud of the work that we did," Mitchell told Newstalk ZB at the time Andersen made the comments.

"Most of our work was for the UN, the foreign government..."

He said this work included delivering aid to countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

In 2021, Judith Collins described Mitchell's work in conflict zones by saying he "led protection units in Iraq and was headhunted to deploy with the Iraqi Tactical Support Unit, which focused on anti-terrorism operations".

Andersen said she plans to apologise to Mitchell directly during her weekly appearance alongside the minister on Newstalk ZB - where she first made the comments.

She had initially refused to apologise.

Instead, she released a statement acknowledging she went to far saying her comments "crossed a line" and she had let Mitchell know that.