Police electoral prosecutions

June 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reports:

The Association is signalling will take a tougher line over complaints of a political nature following the John Banks donations case.

Isn’t that a statement that the Commissioner should make, not the union? I’m a fan of the Police Association, but AFAIK they don’t decide prosecutions.

Police Association President Greg O’Connor has told ONE News the case has taught the police a lesson.

Mr O’Connor says he thinks in the past there has been a tendancy in the police to think of such cases as political spats with no winners, and that whatever the police do, they’re going to get criticised.

“So best just do the investigation and don’t get involved in any political stoush,” he says.

Sadly this is right. Their decisions around the 2005 over-spending were disgraceful, and showed not just cowardice but great ignorance of the actual law.

“I think this case has changed the game and I think from now on every case, every complaint will be looked at very differently.”

Mr O’ Connor says “the ante has been upped” and the police may well need to set up some more specialist ability to investigate such complaints.

Well overdue. They haven’t even made decisions on most of the 2011 cases referred to them by the Electoral Commission. Their inaction makes a farce.

Labour’s Justice spokesman Andrew Little says the police seem to find it difficult to make the judgement call on whether or not to prosecute over political complaints.

Mr Little says a new body could be established or a new unit set up within the Electoral Commission to deal with these cases.

I’ve long advocated that. Have submitted to the last two general elections reviews on it. But none of the parties in Parliament have ever backed a change to remove prosecutions from the Police. It would be a good thing if they do.

But Greg O’Connnor says that would be just adding another layer of bureaucracy.

“Look, all these different bodies that are set up, usually they’re done because you can’t trust the current investigative body,” he says.

Well the Police have shown themselves unwilling or incompetent in 2005, 2008 and 2011 when it comes to electoral law investigations. I say three strikes and you’re out.

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54 Responses to “Police electoral prosecutions”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    But none of the parties in Parliament have ever backed a change to remove prosecutions from the Police. It would be a good thing if they do.

    National has. Chris Finlayson moved an amendment during the debate on the Electoral Finance Bill to remove electoral prosecutions from police.

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  2. Manolo (13,338 comments) says:

    Mr Edgeler, please give us the position of Mana-Internet and your boss Kim DotCom on this matter?

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  3. anticorruptionnz (159 comments) says:

    Len Brown is still under investigations by the police for my complaint into his secret trust the “New Auckland council trust” perhaps they may speed up the investigation now as it has been 6 months since I made the complaint to the electoral officer. It took him nearly three months to hand it to the police ( late February )

    By the time they decide he is guilty they will probably day its out of time .. Guess there is merit in dragging your tail probably caused by politicians who under resource the police Budgets .

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  4. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    “remove prosecutions from the Police”

    And give it to whom? Crown law is as corrupt as the cops so who else could do the job?

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  5. peterwn (3,148 comments) says:

    I once raised a few eyebrows saying that Greg O’Connor was useful to the Commissioner as Greg could make comments on policing that were too politically sensitive for the Commissioner to make. As I commented previously a small unit of near retirement officers reporting direct to the commissioner should be set up as they would be immune from political retribution.

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  6. Ross12 (1,147 comments) says:

    How much of the lack of investigation by the Police in the mid 2000′s was due to who the Police Commissioner was at the time

    (ie. it was not Police procedures or wrong allocation of time but the guy at the top)

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  7. David Garrett (6,343 comments) says:

    Manolo: We are usually on the same team so I’ll be gentle… Graeme is retained by Dotcom to provide legal advice..that means Dotcom is Graeme’s client, and their discussions are privileged…the only person who can waive that privilege is Herr Dotcom.

    As I have said here before, a lawyer doesn’t need to like his client…I suspect most criminal lawyers don’t like most of their clients.. No-one should confuse the relationship…”X is a client of Y” does NOT mean “Y likes X”.

    We have been compared to highly paid cab drivers…the “cab rank rule” means lawyers are obliged to represent whoever approaches them – so long as the service sought is within the lawyer’s expertise…and Graeme is a special electoral lawyer…

    Jackinabox: Are you sure “jackass” wouldn’t fit you better??

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  8. Mr Nobody NZ (397 comments) says:

    For the Police Union to be making such statement around change it immediately makes me wonder what influence they have had on the the current lack of investigation into political matters?

    Has the Police Union influenced the lack of investigation into previous political complaints?
    Does the Police Union have any direct to political parties such as other union movements or other unions what have ties?

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  9. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    “Jackinabox: Are you sure “jackass” wouldn’t fit you better??”

    And you “convicted thief”??

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  10. fernglas (100 comments) says:

    No need to set up a new body. Give them to the SFO. Electoral fraud should meet their public interest criteria. They have the expertise, independence, probably the capacity, and electoral fraud is still just fraud, which is their field. The Police, on the other hand, have run their fraud expertise into the ground over decades in order to meet frontline priorities. I don’t think the Police reluctance to deal with these complaints has been actuated by political bias but by a nervousness in an area where they lack expertise.

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  11. calendar girl (1,172 comments) says:

    I’ve read that linked news item, and nowhere can I detect anything that suggests O’Connor is speaking on behalf of the Police or usurping the prerogative of the Commissioner. O’Connor’s comments are attributed specifically to the Police Association which, in a free world, is at liberty to comment publicly on matters of relevance to its members.

    The Commissioner of Police is silent, probably because of this observation: “The Independent Police Conduct Authority is now deciding whether to investigate how the John Banks’ case was handled.”

    In the circumstances the Commissioner is probably wise not to respond to media enquiries (if indeed there have been any to the NZ Police). It is only natural that the media might direct their enquiries to the Police Association as an alternative.

    I consider that the public is well-served by having an open and accessible Police Association spokesman in O’Connor. Would that we had more unions communicating with us as frankly as he is usually prepared to do.

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  12. Nick R (497 comments) says:

    I agree with DPF. It isn’t the Police Association’s job to decide who gets charged with offence and they shouldn’t be talking about that, particularly so close to a general election.

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  13. MT_Tinman (2,985 comments) says:

    I suspect the police union is commenting on this matter because the police are too busy trying to influence law and create a police state to enforce current law.

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  14. Nigel Kearney (864 comments) says:

    Anyone who volunteers to do this sort of investigation is likely to have a bias of some kind. So there’s no way for it be politically neutral unless the police do it.

    I also don’t think there’s any implication that the police got it wrong, merely because the private prosecution succeeded after the police decided not to devote resources to it. The police decided that the benefit to the public from prosecuting Banks didn’t justify the resources they would have to put into it. That decision was correct. Nobody is any safer. The election outcome was unaffected. There is no lesson that increased transparency is necessary, because Len Brown was able to legally hide his donors. There is more value in the burglaries solved and valuables recovered that would not have happened if police had people tied up in a pointless prosecution of John Banks instead.

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  15. Colville (2,065 comments) says:

    DG @ 12.17 . Well said.

    ……………..

    As I commented previously a small unit of near retirement officers reporting direct to the commissioner should be set up as they would be immune from political retribution.

    Spot on. Political pressue saved Clark from art fraud charges and saved her party from being prosecuted for the pledge card rort which makes Banksie look like an angel.

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  16. hmmokrightitis (1,507 comments) says:

    “Crown law is as corrupt as the cops” [citation needed, otherwise this is merely brain dead stupidity]

    jackoffinabox, is this based on emperical evidence, or merely the fact that you got done for beating the missus up?

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  17. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    >Mr O’Connor says he thinks in the past there has been a tendancy in the police to think of such cases as political spats with no winners, and that whatever the police do, they’re going to get criticised.

    The Police could validly claim that they weren’t pursuing a lot of electoral law complaints or violations because they were matters of process without victims. The Banks case falls in to this category… Len Brown and David Cunliffe have both taken secret donations, and Banks’ only real offence was not using a trust as they did. I don’t care about any of them. Except that Cunliffe is extremely hypocritical criticising Banks when Cunliffe has done exactly the same thing, and he deserves to have his hypocrisy pointed out.

    The only recent cases I would have prosecuted if I were the Police were Labour’s 2005 theft of taxpayer money to run its campaign, but only because it was a matter of theft. And the Green staffer who vandalised other party billboards, but only because it was vandalism.

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  18. Sporteone (17 comments) says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. When has/did Greg O’Connor become the spokesman for the NZ Police. He is the Police Association president, not the Commissioner. But the big problem is that the media go to him, when Police National HQ will not comment. He is the fall back guy and to be honest is not qualified to comment any more. He has not worked for the Police for a very long time, probably in excess of 15 years.

    And another point is normally he and or past presidents have been still on the staff list for the Police while they are working for the Police Association. My question is are the Police still paying the government portion of his superannuation. It would be interesting to find out.

    I wish the media would approach the correct spokesman, not a wannabe who still thinks he is a Policeman. He was just an office wolla before he was elected President of the Police Association

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  19. peterwn (3,148 comments) says:

    Ross12 – Seemed police management were running scared of H2. Also remember that Helen Clark made inappropriate comments about the Waitara shooting about the police being ‘racist’. Unfortunately for her, she did not check her facts – Constable ‘A’ is part Maori.

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  20. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    “I consider that the public is well-served by having an open and accessible Police Association spokesman in O’Connor. Would that we had more unions communicating with us as frankly as he is usually prepared to do.”

    “The Police can do no wrong”, that’s O’Conner’s mantra.

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  21. hmmokrightitis (1,507 comments) says:

    Utter tosh jackoff. Ive heard O’Conner criticise the Police on a number of occasions – he knows very well what they have to deal with in terms of getting it right.

    Yes, there are bent cops, no doubt. And those that are there because they simply like beating the pus out of folk. But the vast majority do a fantastic job in really difficult circumstances.

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  22. calendar girl (1,172 comments) says:

    DG@12:17 – That’s a bit heavy-handed on your part, David, unusually so.

    While bowing to your own professional expertise and principles, I frankly can’t accept that GE is required to take Dotcom onto his books as a client if that happened to be against his own personal wishes. (It usually happens because the client can’t afford the senior lawyer’s fee, a strange irony in this instance!) How and by whom would such an obligation for GE to become Dotcom’s first cab off the rank be enforced?

    But, more importantly, surely you can see that Manolo asks his question tongue-in-cheek? He’s hardly anticipating an answer that would involve anything as titillating as breach of client privilege.

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  23. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    “Ive heard O’Conner criticise the Police on a number of occasions” [citation needed, otherwise this is merely brain dead stupidity]

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  24. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    Can someone remind me what the National/GST argument back in 2005 (or was it 2008?) was about?

    Was it a matter of spending “plus GST” and failing to notice that Government bullshit limits include GST?

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  25. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    So the statute of limitations has lapsed on all of Labour’s transgressions – now they want an inquiry. Self serving pricks never said a word when it was going in their favour.

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  26. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    flipper

    I think it was a convenient excuse taken because they knew that nothing ever came of alleged breaches.

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  27. hmmokrightitis (1,507 comments) says:

    Youre getting baseless accusations mixed up with anecdotal evidence jackoff. You know theres a difference, right?

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  28. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    No need to make stuff up, the truth is sufficient.

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  29. David Garrett (6,343 comments) says:

    Calendar: I didn’t intend to be heavy handed…Yes, Graeme could have come up with an excus not to act for Dotcom…apparently one well known QC doubles or triples his hourly rate when he wants to put someone off…ar, as you say, one is just “too busy to be taking on a file of that magnitude”

    For whatever reasons Graeme is acting for the fat prick…I suspect it is because of the intellectual challenge of cobbling together such an arrangement in a way that is legal…plus a fat fee…Either way, Graeme remains one of the good guys in my book..

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  30. anticorruptionnz (159 comments) says:

    Greg O’Connor does not represent the police , he represents the police association he expresses the frustrations of the police below the rank of commissioned officers. ie. cops up to and including the rank of to Senior Sergeant.

    Do not get the Police hierarchy and those doing the actual work confused.

    Those on the front line are as frustrated with things as we are.

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  31. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    hmmokrightitis, I wrote this based on empirical evidence.

    Tuesday, 10 June 2018

    Mr Andrew Little MP
    Parliament Buildings,
    Wellington
    New Zealand

    Dear Sir,

    Further to your complaint dated ……………

    I have now received from the Commissioner of Police the file of papers relating to your complaint for my independent review.

    I note from it that the Police declined to lay charges of electoral fraud against one John Archibald Banks.

    I also note that a Graham McCready subsequently brought a private prosecution against Mr Banks that resulted in him being found guilty of one charge of electoral fraud.

    The issue here relates to the discretion enjoyed by the Commissioner of Police or his officers, in this case the Police in laying charges. The Police have the discretionary right not to lay charges. This discretionary right was clearly exercised in this case and it is not an issue I am able, or would wish, to take up with the Commissioner.

    I am therefore unable to take this matter further but I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Yours faithfully,

    INDEPENDENT POLICE COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY

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  32. Paulus (2,496 comments) says:

    Does this now mean that the Police will proceed with the over 20 cases of Electoral Fraud in some way or another, or will the Banks case be the only one as he is/was a non left wing MP.
    Pigs might fly.

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  33. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    Would it be simple for Police to waiver their discretion in political cases and let the courts decide ? Sure a few days of court time will be wasted from time to time but really … The integrity of our entire electoral system has been destroyed by Labour is at risk with the way it has been working.

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  34. calendar girl (1,172 comments) says:

    DG@1:18pm – Fair enough, David. You know the guy and consider him a “good guy”, so that goes some way to reassure me of his motivations. Somehow I think, though, that the ”fat fee” you mention is by far the principal motivator. However, there’s nothing improper about earning big money, legally, from one’s superior professional skills.

    But Dotcom’s money seems to have infatuated many people who have come into contact with him, perhaps even to the point of improbable distraction in some cases. Other than lowly tradesmen and the like, of course, who remain to be paid by DC. I’m sure that won’t be a problem for Mr Edgeler.

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  35. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    Paulus

    You know how it works – It’s different when Labour do it – Move on.

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  36. Rex Widerstrom (5,254 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman says:

    I suspect the police union is commenting on this matter because the police are too busy trying to influence law and create a police state to enforce current law.

    Exactly. The reason offences by politicians are never pursued with enthusiasm or rigour has nothing to do with the career trajectory of individual cops (even the most vengeful politician would have trouble identifying, then knobbling the career of, an entire team of investigators) and everything to do with the symbiotic relationship between the police and the political class.

    The police want more money, more members, more equipment and – above all else – more power. Too much is never enough, as the saying goes. And they want to make sure the law remains written in such a way that “noble corruption” – planting evidence, perjured testimony, questionable use of informants etc – goes unpunished.

    The political class wants a free pass on everything from stealing the wine from the Press Gallery Christmas function to stealing the Leader of the Opposition’s emails.

    Both want to operate on the basis of “do as we say, not as we do”, each benefitting and protecting the other. And until we get a truly Independent Commission Against Corruption, it will continue.

    Like all unions who are party to an agreement – this one just happens to be tacit and unwritten – the Police Association is just reminding the other party that they could make trouble if they don’t get what they want the next time they ask.

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  37. David Garrett (6,343 comments) says:

    calendar: I am happy to tell you the main reason I believe Graeme to be a sterling fellow…When the dogs were yapping at my heels in September 2010, when the Law Society was gleefully beginning to prosecute me with almost indecent haste (I had made a fool of them over the 3S Bill, about which they were woefully ill informed); while a bunch of people were registering complaints against me – some settling old scores from years before – one Graeme Edgeler, Barrister of Wellington wrote a letter in support.

    At that time my only relationship with Graeme was various communications I had had with him over various aspects of the 3S law which he believed were unworkable or unreasonable (I am sure Graeme wont mind me describing him as ‘left leaning’). We were certainly not friends. We remain far apart on the left-right spectrum, and even further apart on the criminals’ rights spectrum. I will never forget the one man who not only did not join in the kicking of me, but stood up in my support.

    As I say, Graeme Edgeler is one of the good guys…and I also have urged him to get paid “up front” by the fat German!

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  38. minus (132 comments) says:

    Why Police won’t touch “political” crimes

    from an earlier comment
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/06/general_debate_10_june_2014.html/comment-page-1#comment-1338545

    2] Was the initial complaint against John Banks not made by Trevor Mallard – two politicians, so why take it seriously?

    to the current Mallard accusation: that Hekia Parata has assaulted a member of her staff.
    Under Parliamentary Privilege, Mallard says Parata did it
    On Radio Live, Mallard says “Evidence will come out …”
    Bottom line – has a member of Parata’s staff complained?

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  39. peterwn (3,148 comments) says:

    flipper – seemed National cocked-up with broadcast time money allocations. They had assumed the allocation was GST exclusive and booked 12.5% too much time on TVNZ, or something like that. National would have broken the law by paying the extra, so tried to introduce a bill in Parliament to resolve the problem, but Labour would not support it. AFAIK the amount was never paid despite National’s desire to pay up if it could be done lawfully. TVNZ probably could not sue as the the extra payment would have been ‘illegal’. I think that was the problem. As it was a genuine mistake, there would not have been any criminal liability.

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  40. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    flipper

    One thing is sure – National were not warned that doing their accounting this way would be a breach. They never ignored written warnings and never used parliament to retrospectively validate 14 years of “that’s how we have always done it”.

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  41. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    I can see where this will end up. The phrase “Not in the public interest to prosecute” will be dumped and a new wishy-washy weasel word definition will be developed so Police can keep their perfect record of not prosecuting Labour party members for breach of electoral funding laws.

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  42. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    I love it how David Garrett sees no problem with referring to people using such names as “Fat German” and “She Beast” yet gets all pissy pants when people call him “dead baby identity thief” or “criminal” (both of which are true).
    Hypocrite.

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  43. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    Rednecks can dish it out but they can’t take it.

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  44. gravedodger (1,510 comments) says:

    @ Burt 1 05, the socialists should still be careful what they wish for.

    Even if Limitations stand in the way of prosecution, a commission of Inquiry properly acting under appropriate terms of reference could still be devastating for them in disclosing what the evidence collected, produces by way of a report.

    An unfavorable outcome would be very difficult to hide even for a biased media whatever the stage of the electoral cycle.

    One thing for certain it would get a reaction from the soft cocks at Police HQ, like lots of very stained undies for starters.

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  45. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    gravedodger

    It may even confirm my assertion that Helen Clark was NZ’s first retrospectively validated PM ;-)

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  46. Chuck Bird (4,668 comments) says:

    David, Are you saying that lawyers in a civil case are obliged to take on a client and tell lies for him even if it is obvious the guy is delusional?

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  47. Chuck Bird (4,668 comments) says:

    The following I posted to the Herald at 10 am. My comment will probably get published eventually when it will not be read. There is real censorship with the Herald. They do not what their hypercritical behaviour exposed.

    The Herald supported the police decision not to prosecute Helen Clark for forgery as well as destroying evidence. When I heard of her forgery I immediately offered the purchaser the $1000 he paid for it. He decided to wait for a better offer which he got so the painting could be destroyed. Her forgery may have benefited the charity but it also benefited Clark. A candidate’s sporting and other pastimes is almost always included in their public profile or CV. I would imagine that members or supporters of the charity would consider Clark’s support a factor in their voting. There is also the matter of not prosecuting David Benson-Pope for a serious crime when there was a prima facie case to answer. The Herald rightly criticized the prosecution of Shane Ardren for driving a tractor up a couple of steps at Parliament.

    Perhaps John Roughan would explain why he now thinks that police should follow the letter of the law when deciding whether to prosecute a MP.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11270735

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  48. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    Chuck

    Simple answer. National were calling for this in the past and now Labour are calling for it. It’s different when Labour do it !

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  49. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    David, Are you saying that lawyers in a civil case are obliged to take on a client and tell lies for him even if it is obvious the guy is delusional?

    Let’s face it, lawyers have no ethics so they have no trouble lying. If the client was really rich and would pay you anyway, you’d be mad not to!

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  50. hmmokrightitis (1,507 comments) says:

    So, jackinoff, you use as your fact base the police not pursuing charges against John Banks. And as a result of that, the Police, in their entirety, are corrupt. As is Crown Law.

    On that basis, you, sir, are a rapist, and you should hand yourself into the corrupt police right away.

    See what I did there? Its not so much as drawing a long bow as over reacting to a single event.

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  51. jackinabox (568 comments) says:

    “Police, in their entirety, are corrupt. As is Crown Law.”

    No homoneanderthalensis, I base my claim that the Police and Crown law are corrupt on long term personal experience of both outfits.

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  52. Pete George (22,774 comments) says:

    DG – “(I am sure Graeme wont mind me describing him as ‘left leaning’).”

    After he was in Young Nats?

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  53. itstricky (1,539 comments) says:

    Where are the ‘dirty scummy communist union’ comments?

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  54. itstricky (1,539 comments) says:

    Chuck – possibly the birther web sites will accept your post?

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