26 Sep 2018

Peters denies claims he called Wally Haumaha during inquiry

5:57 pm on 26 September 2018

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters denies claims by a National MP that he called the deputy police commissioner to assure him things would be okay after a government inquiry into his appointment was launched.

Winston Peters speaks to the media as acting Prime Minister

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

An inquiry into Wally Haumaha's appointment was sparked by comments he made in 2004, defending police officers accused of raping Louise Nicholas in the 1990s.

National's police spokesman Chris Bishop made the allegations under Parliamentary privilege today but has not explained where the information came from.

"I can also reveal Mr Peters rang Wally Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. He gave him assurances, or words to that effect, that things would be okay.''

Mr Bishop said the phone call was "deeply, wildly inappropriate''.

Winston Peters responds

In a statement, Mr Peters said there was no basis for the claim, nor has he provided any assurances on the matter.

"I have not called nor had any reason to call Mr Haumaha since the controversy," he said.

"My office has checked all my phone records since the inquiry was announced. No such call was made."

"It is a matter of public record that this inquiry was initiated in my capacity as acting Prime Minister."

"The public can have faith in the inquiry. It was initiated by Cabinet, it is being conducted by a highly respected independent QC, and it will report back to Cabinet. The terms of reference have been publicly released. The final report will be made public,'' Mr Peters said.

"Regardless, any suggestion that New Zealand First Ministers are seeking to unduly influence this inquiry is baseless nonsense," he said.

How it happened

Mr Haumaha's appointment in June has been surrounded with controversey.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said she was hugely frustrated with the situation the government had found itself in.

"I am, and I remain that way, but it is for me to make sure that we deal with this properly and appropriately.

"I do want to bring in some independence to that process and that's what I've done."

Ms Ardern said if the inquiry came back showing the government did not have the information it needed when the appointment was made, the matter would be referred to the State Services Commissioner and the Solicitor General.

Mr Bishop has repeatedly called for Ms Ardern to stand Mr Haumaha aside while the investigation, by QC Mary Scholtens, is carried out.

The inquiry got off to a bad start intially when Pauline Kingi was appointed to head the inquiry, but then stood down, after a conflict of interest was claimed because she had endorsed Mr Haumaha 23 times on the networking website LinkedIn.

There has subsequently been allegations of bullying behaviour from staff working on a joint government agency project headed by Mr Haumaha.

A second investigation, by the Independent Police Conduct Authority, is looking at the formal complaints of bullying by two women.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs