Armstrong on Field

John Armstrong writes:

Then Prime Minister Helen Clark stood Field down as a minister and appointed Noel Ingram, QC, as a one-person inquiry. Ingram’s report raised extremely serious questions about Field’s behaviour and should have been immediately referred to the police.

Apart from slapping Field across the wrist for making “errors of judgment”, Labour instead held its nose and stuck by him for fear of alienating its large Pacific Island vote. Labour was wary of provoking him into holding a byelection in his Mangere seat. Crucially, he also held a casting vote in Parliament .

But they were generally winning confidence and supply votes by a dozen vote margin or so.

The biggest lesson may be to prime ministers to be more careful about playing politics when it comes to setting up inquiries. Labour thought it could get the outcome it wanted by limiting Ingram’s ability to investigate the allegations against Field.

The corruption cover-up.

Despite that handicap, Ingram produced a report which was damning of the MP. Ingram can hold his head high. The QC is alone in emerging from this affair with his credit enhanced.

Ingram did a fine job. And kudos also to Lockwood Smith who prosecuted the case against Field and Labour in the House so efficiently.

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