Minto complains about screwed-up letter

Police escort a protestor away from the Waihopai Spy Base.
Police escort a protestor away from the Waihopai Spy Base.

Veteran activist John Minto has laid a complaint against a Marlborough police officer for screwing up a letter protesters tried to deliver to the officer in charge of the Waihopai spy base on Saturday.

About 20 protesters climbed a gate at the start of the driveway to the base to deliver the letter, during the annual protest, but were stopped by four Marlborough police officers. The protesters attempted to get the officers to take the letter in a heated exchange before the officers herded them back behind the gate.

Tasman district police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said yesterday Tasman police had not yet received the complaint and it would not be appropriate to comment.

The normal process for a complaint was that it would be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police via the national manager professional standards and it would then be referred to the appropriate district commander and professional standards manager for investigation, she said.

In his two-part complaint to the Police Complaints Authority, provided to the Marlborough Express yesterday, Mr Minto said one of the officers was provocative and did not uphold the protesters' right to protest when he screwed up the letter and threw it on the ground.

"It was a childish, provocative action, well outside any conceivable police role to ensure protesters' rights are upheld."

He also said the officer carrying his Taser was a breach of police procedure, as officers at demonstrations were not to carry Tasers.

Mr Minto's complaint was backed by protest organiser and anti-bases campaign group leader Murry Horton.

Speaking soon after the protest ended on Sunday, Mr Horton said the officer's actions in screwing up their letter and throwing it on the ground showed the contempt police had for New Zealanders' right to peaceful protest and he maintained his criticism of the officer yesterday.

"I think what that particular officer did was unjustifiable and unnecessarily inflammatory," Mr Horton said.

The Marlborough Express