Drama at select committee

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 12:39 12/06/2013
Labour MP Trevor Mallard.
TREVOR MALLARD: Walked out.

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A select committee hearing has descended into acrimony after Labour MP Trevor Mallard appeared to threaten the job of a senior police officer.

Mallard abruptly left a select committee after an exchange of angry words with Police Minister Anne Tolley after he questioned the decision of Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush to speak at the funeral of former police officer Bruce Hutton.

Hutton was found by an inquiry to have planted evidence that led to the wrongful conviction of Arthur Allan Thomas in 1971.

Bush delivered a eulogy in which he said Hutton had been described as a police officer whose integrity was beyond reproach.

Asking questions during Parliament's law and order committee today, Mallard asked police commissioner Peter Marshall if it was his decision to allow Bush to speak at the Hutton funeral.

Marshall said he supported "absolutely" his deputy.

"You have to remember this was a funeral service attended by grieving family, by grieving friends and associates of the deceased and he made those comments in the context of the particular set of circumstances," Marshall said.

"I have been on public record in terms of supporting him in the context of that particular setting on that particular day."

After Mallard attempted to question Bush on the issue Government committee members objected that his questions were out of order.

But Mallard hit back and appeared to threaten Bush's job.

"We're deciding whether or not to continue his salary, that's what we're deciding now," he said.

Mallard then got embroiled in an exchange with Tolley who said that was not his decision before Mallard abruptly left the committee.

Speaking after the committee, Bush said his comments in the eulogy were for a grieving family and weren't meant to be taken by any wider audience.

"They weren't meant to cause any offence to anyone."

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