Minister quiet on new prison allegations

5:39 pm on 28 July 2015

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga is refusing to address claims of corruption at Mt Eden Prison, despite revelations this morning some inmates had been arrested as part of a major police operation.

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Three of the people arrested as part of raids targeting the Head Hunters gang are Mt Eden Prison inmates.

The police are also interviewing a former prison officer as part of their investigations.

Labour Party corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said Serco had clearly created the kind of environment in Mt Eden Prison where those kinds of things would take place.

He said he got an anonymous phone call on Friday night tipping him off about guards at the prison being involved in smuggling contraband.

"That Serco guards were aiding and abetting the inmates, I won't go into specifics, that's something that we've got to talk to police about, you know, pass that information on."

Mr Davis said it was not the first time he had heard about it.

"I mean, I've been receiving a few letters as well saying there's corruption with guards but you know it's always hard to confirm these sorts of thing and that's why it's taking a bit of time to corroborate what people are telling me."

On his way to Parliament this afternoon, Mr Lotu-Iiga refused to address the allegations of corruption at Mt Eden Prison.

"Well all I will say is that this is an investigation, we cannot pre-empt that investigation or the findings of that police investigation, it's not for me to comment on that.

"What I will say is that we have got a review in place and when the police have finalised their investigation, we'll go from there."

Mr Lotu-Iiga told reporters that he was given a heads-up last week about today's raid but he was not worried about it.

"Well I'm always concerned when there are operations, I'm always concerned, but, no, it didn't worry me."

Mr Lotu-Iiga said it was disappointing inmates had been arrested as part of today's raids, and the matter would be included in the review of Serco's operations at Mt Eden Prison.