4 Nov 2015

Academic opinion that Cooks Govt broke own laws

12:43 pm on 4 November 2015

The Cook Islands government has tried to prevent publication of an opinion that it illegally exceeded constitutionally imposed spending limits.

Crown Law had successfully applied for an injunction on its publication of the draft opinion by the Cook Islands Herald writer George Pitt .

But the opinion by New Zealand constitutional expert, Dr Alex Frame, has been leaked and its advice to the government is that limits were exceeded when the executive council earlier this year approved extra spending of just over US $3 million dollars.

The constitution allows the council to approve spending up to 1.5 percent over the budget approved by Parliament, but Dr Frame has advised the government exceeded this limit.

The academic's advice was commissioned by Crown Law after the Financial Intelligence Unit sought clarification of the constitution for its own investigation into government spending.

Earlier this week, Mr Pitt defied the injunction by talking about the legal opinion on local radio saying he believes the contents of the report should be made public.