Police handling of John Banks may be probed
MICHAEL FOX AND HAMISH RUTHERFORD
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) is to consider investigating the police handling of the allegations against ACT MP John Banks following last week's guilty verdict.
Police decided in 2012 not to prosecute Banks, citing a lack of evidence, prompting retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready to launch a private prosecution that led to Banks being found guilty of filing a false electoral return.
A spokesman for the IPCA confirmed it had received complaints about the police decision not to prosecute but had waited until the verdict before looking into them.
"We indicated at that stage that we would maintain a watching brief and reconsider our position at the end of court proceedings," the spokesman said.
"So now that there has been a finding of guilt we will shortly be in the process of reconsidering our position and deciding what further action if any we will take. We have made no determination about that yet."
The IPCA would look at what "underpinned the police decision not to prosecute with the view to determining whether or not there is anything to investigate".
In spite of the Labour Party calling for a widespread independent inquiry into the handling of politically-sensitive allegations, the IPCA was likely at this stage to focus only on the Banks case.
This could change if evidence was provided to show the issue was systemic.
"I couldn't say categorically but certainly we would be highly likely to focus on [this] particular incident or case, unless we had some information or evidence pointing to a wider issue," the spokesman said, adding it would be some weeks before a decision was made.
Wellington resident Roger Brooking wrote to the IPCA in March urging the authority to investigate the allegations against Banks, saying it seemed obvious to him the the ACT MP had been deceptive and deliberately breached the law.
"Every step along the way made it clearer and clearer that the police had failed to do their job," said Brooking, who runs a programme help rehabilitate recidivist drink-drivers.
He has made other complaints to the IPCA about the police, but said he was not a member of any political party.
"If you consider that if police had investigated at the time, which is now two years ago and Mr Banks had been prosecuted and found guilty, he would have been out of Parliament two years ago," Brooking said.
"That would have led to a by-election, so I'm quite concerned that there are political consequences to the fact that the police failed to prosecute.
"He [Banks] has been vital to the ability of the National Government to pass certain pieces of legislation and if he had not been there, who knows what the outcome of it all might have been."
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