19 Jul 2012

Treaty lawyer rejects Crown's response to PM's comments

6:43 am on 19 July 2012

Treaty lawyer Kathy Ertel says she's not satisfied with the Crown's response to her complaint about John Key's conduct during the Waitangi Tribunal hearing into water rights.

Ms Ertel, who acts for Ngati Ruapani, is critical of Mr Key's media comments about the outcome of the inquiry - while it's being held.

In response, Crown lawyers argue a public comment by the Prime Minister was starkly portrayed that the Government "will" ignore the tribunal's report.

Counsel for the Crown say the Prime Minister never said that in an interview with TV One's Breakfast programme - but did say "we could ignore whatever findings they might have".

But treaty lawyer Kathy Ertel says the timing of the comment is still a big issue for her client.

She says John Key is undermining the Waitangi Tribunal by making pre-emptive comments - and that's very distressing.

Ms Ertel says it's not for the Prime Minister to make statements while a judicial body is deliberating upon an issue and is poised to make a recommendation to the Crown.

She expects the issue to come up again during closing submissions on Thursday and Friday.