MP Sabin to grill cops

NOT TALKING: MP Mike Sabin.
DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ

NOT TALKING: MP Mike Sabin.

Mike Sabin, the MP under police investigation for assault, is set to grill senior cops as part of an annual review.

Sabin is chairman of Parliament's law and order select committee. His boss, Prime Minister John Key indicated this week he was "happy" for the Northland MP to remain in the job. He is refusing to confirm Sabin is under investigation or comment on the second-term MP's future.

However, sources say National will move on the problem in the next few days, ahead of an all-day caucus meeting at Premier House on Tuesday. 

All MPs were expected to attend and Sabin would be in the glare of the media spotlight for the first time since the allegations surfaced in late December. 

The law and order committee is preparing questions for an annual review of the police force. Previously called a financial review, it allows MPs to put a range of questions to the police executive. As chairman, Sabin would direct those public meetings.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor says Sabin is entitled to natural justice. But he believes it is unfair the MP, who is an ex-cop, is not held accountable to the same standards as police staff put before him.

"Any police officer who is under any sort of a cloud, generally, the first thing that happens is that they are stood down.

"So there would be a certain irony in police officers who would be subject to that being questioned. If one of those police officers in front of the select committee was under the same cloud, then they wouldn't be there. However, we as police work on the principle innocent until proven guilty."

Key batted away questions from reporters about Sabin following his state of the nation address in Auckland. He was also tight-lipped at Tuesday's post-Cabinet press conference.

However, in a radio interview he stressed the anti-P campaigner was "a fully functioning member of the caucus."

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He also tried to pass off the allegations as "rumours" and cited "different reasons, legal and otherwise" for his silence. 

The investigation is being handled in Auckland as Cooper's Beach-based Sabin was a detective in Whangarei until 2006.

Labour leader Andrew Little yesterday urged Key to come clean about what he knows. "The public are entitled to know. If there is an investigation, tell the public. If there isn't, tell the public."

Sabin has not responded to requests for comment. 

 - Stuff

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