Minister demands justice on diplomat sex charges

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 10:44 01/07/2014
Murray McCully
Fairfax NZ
FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: Murray McCully.

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Foreign affairs minister Murray McCully has warned that if the diplomat accused of sexual assault in Wellington does not face the charges, it will affect relations between the country involved and New Zealand.

McCully also signalled he strongly supported the lifting of suppression orders around the case, saying he saw "no good public policy reason" for the country's identity to remain hidden.

Speaking on the way into the National Party's weekly caucus meeting this morning, McCully said officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) had made clear New Zealand's wish that the diplomat, now back in his home country, would face justice.

He acknowledged there was no way to force the issue, but warned that there would be consequences if New Zealand did not believe justice was done.

"It will have a bearing on how we deal with the country concerned," McCully said.

MFAT officials met with the head of mission of the country involved last night.

"The New Zealand Government's position was spelt out and the head of mission was asked to convey those views" to his government, McCully said.

The head of mission had given an undertaking to pass on New Zealand's view.

Asked why it had taken so long for the meeting to take place, when the alleged incident took place in May, McCully said the contact had been ongoing.

"There have been a range of interactions but I made the decision that we should formalise the discussion yesterday," he said.

He supported moves by New Zealand media organisations to challenge suppression orders. He had taken advice from the solicitor-general that he could not name the country, but indicated he was not happy with the situation.

"I wish you [the media] well," McCully said.

"I can't see any good public policy reason why you'd want to protect someone from publicity, given that there won't be a trial."

Asked if his position would change if the host country outed itself, McCully said "obviously" it would. 

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