12 Jun 2013

Heated hearing as police scrutinised over eulogy

10:40 pm on 12 June 2013

The Police Minister has accused a senior MP of trying to destroy the career of one of the country's top officers.

At a fiery hearing of the law and order select committee at Parliament on Wednesday, Trevor Mallard pressed Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush about his eulogy for a disgraced officer who led the Crewe murder inquiry.

Trevor Mallard.

Trevor Mallard. Photo: RNZ

Bruce Hutton was found to have planted evidence that led to the wrongful conviction of Arthur Allan Thomas for the 1970 murders.

Despite that, at Mr Hutton's funeral in April this year Mr Bush told mourners that the officer had integrity beyond reproach.

Trevor Mallard pushed Mr Bush to explain the eulogy and said MPs were deciding whether to continue his salary, before storming out of the hearing after having further questions blocked by National MPs.

Police Minister Anne Tolley told reporters the attack was bizarre.

"Trevor's just a bully. I'm not going to be bullied and I'm not going to allow the police to be bullied. He seems to be setting out to destroy the career of one of New Zealand's top performing policemen."

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall told the hearing he absolutely supported Mr Bush's attendance at the funeral and the context of the eulogy.

"This was a funeral service attended by grieving family, by grieving friends and associates of the deceased and he made those comments in the context of that particular set of circumstances."

Mike Bush later told reporters his words at the funeral were for the Hutton family - not for the public.

"The comments made at the eulogy were directed to a grieving family. And I ask that it be seen in that context. They weren't meant to be taken by any wider audience and they weren't meant to cause any offence to anyone."