18 Jul 2012

Crown clarifies PM's water claim comment after criticism

7:16 pm on 18 July 2012

Government lawyers have hit back over a claim the Crown acted in bad faith when Prime Minister John Key discussed the outcome of the Waitangi Tribunal hearing into water rights.

A Treaty lawyer, Kathy Ertel, complained to the inquiry and the Crown's legal team was instructed to respond.

It's sent a memo to the tribunal saying it has reservations about the use of debating media coverage.

However, Crown lawyers go on to argue that a public comment by John Key has starkly portrayed that the Government "will" ignore the Tribunal's report.

But counsel for the Crown say the Prime Minister never said that in an interview with TV One's Breakfast programme.

They've provided a transcript of the interview, showing Mr Key said: "we could ignore whatever findings they might have".

Kathy Ertel, who acts for Ngati Ruapani, says her client was critical of the timing of the Prime Minister's comment.

She says Mr Key should not be making statements about judicial processes.