The Police job sheet for the Section 221 investigation shows who the Police talked to. Remember this is all prior to receiving the over-spending complaint. At this stage only the lack of authorisation is the issue.
A summary of the Police activities is:
27 Oct – DSS Arnerich assigned case
02 Nov – talked to MOJ lawyers and sought copy of Wairarapa Electoral Petition
08 Nov – seeks copy of adverts
16 Nov – speak to Mike Smith
21 Nov – Mike Smith states that Heather Simpson was responsible for pledge cards
22 Nov – Meet Mike Smith
12 Dec – Meet Heather Simpson, questions e-mailed in advance. If only all suspects were treated so!
This section is rather amusing. I would call it more than a “concept” that an internal document authorised by the Parliamentary Service Commission is over-ridden by the Electoral Act. However the Police seemed to have taken Heather Simpson’s unsupported contention and given it priority over the very clear advice from the Chief Electoral Office.
Also of some importance is what the Members’ Handbook itself says. Let’s look:
So the Members’ Handbook itself actually defers to the Electoral Act and points out that certain expenses charged to Parliament can and should be deemed election expenses.
Now again I am not a lawyer and can not say for 100.00% that the Members’ Handbook doesn’t have some special status which allows the Electoral Act to be ignored – but such a decision is one for a Judge, not the Police. It would in fact be a major re-interpretation of constitutional law.
I should also point out that at no stage did the Police seek legal advice on this point before making their conclusions.
20 Dec – answers received from Heather Simpson.
Now this is the end of the Police job sheet. The extent of the Police investigation was one meeting with Mike Smith who basically said nothing to do with us, plus all the parties do it. And then one meeting with Heather Simpson where she was given a set of questions and had eight days to answer them.
In a later blog I will touch on what the Police did not do. This is a very long list!