No apology over Urewera raids: Collins

PITA SHARPLES: Says it was "wrong" to use one Act to investigate and arrest people on and another Act to lay charges.
PETER MEECHAM
PITA SHARPLES: Says it was "wrong" to use one Act to investigate and arrest people on and another Act to lay charges.

Police are standing by their decision to prosecute those arrested following the Urewera "terror raids".

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall today acknowledged the raids, known by police as Operation Eight, had a number of unintended consequences on the relationship between Tuhoe and police.

However, he said the impact on the community should not be confused with the validity of the prosecution process.

"The prosecutions relating to Operation Eight were undertaken in good faith and I have full confidence in the officers who undertook the investigation and of Crown Counsel who have led the prosecutions."

The case had withstood the scrutiny of the High Court and Court of Appeal until the Supreme Court last week ruled on the admissibility of evidence which overruled earlier court decisions, he said.

There has been renewed calls for an apology, as well as calls for compensation, for Tuhoe after the Crown yesterday announced it would withdraw charges against 11 of the 15 remaining defendants.

The remaining four - Tame Iti, Emily Bailey, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Urs Signer - will face trial next February on charges of participating in a criminal group and possessing firearms.

However, Marshall said the cases were "well stewarded" from the outset and police would make no apologies in that regard.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are both calling for investigations into the police handling of the raids.

The Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said his party had the backing of Tuhoe to push for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the issue but that would required the support of the Government.

This morning Sharples said he had been in negotiations with police following the raids in October 2007 over an apology and compensation to Tuhoe, but said those talks were put on hold while defendants were awaiting trial.

Last year outgoing Police Commissioner Howard Broad said Tuhoe could get a formal apology for the raids that happened under his command.

"I will say that I will stand and explain to Tuhoe what the police did. If it comes to an apology."

Police Minister Judith Collins said neither she or police would not be apologising to Tuhoe over the raids. If Broad and then police minister Annette King wanted to apologise then "so be it".

"But I have no intention of apologising."

King said she would not be apologising for the raids either, saying they were not her decision.

"I had no say over the raids nor did I expect to because no minister of police directs the police on who they should investigate, who they should prosecute and what actions they should take."

The role of police did not stop and start when a new commissioner took over, she said.
Sharples said the way the early morning police raids in October 2007 were carried out was insulting.

"The pressure they put innocent people under, people having to lie down on the footpath in their nighties as their homes were raided."

The raids involving more than 300 police officers searching properties in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton and the Eastern Bay of Plenty were carried out under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

However, a month later the Solicitor-General David Collins ruled that law was "almost impossible to apply in a coherent manner" and firearms charges were laid instead.

Sharples said it was "wrong" to use one Act to investigate and arrest people on and another Act to lay charges.