1 Jun 2002

Cook Islands prime minister cleared of bribery allegation

7:05 am on 1 June 2002

A seven-month investigation by Cook Islands police has cleared the country's prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton, of bribery allegations.

Police examined a complaint by the Public Service Expenditure and Review Committee that Dr Woonton had approved the use of public money to fly the wife of an MP to New Zealand for medical treatment.

It was alleged the money was paid to persuade the MP to support the former coalition government.

But police say there are no grounds for charges to be laid, adding that this was backed by an opinion from the Crown Law Office.

Deputy police commissioner, Ma'ara Tetava said there was no political pressure but police had found it difficult to get government documents and search warrants had to be executed.