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David Garrett suppression lifted

Published: 6:12AM Thursday September 16, 2010 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB/NZPA

A judge in the North Shore District Court has lifted the suppression on Act MP David Garrett's 2005 passport fraud case.

Garrett had earlier today instructed his lawyer to apply for an urgent waiver to have the name suppression order lifted.

The lifting of the suppression confirmed Garrett was discharged without conviction after stealing the identity of a toddler to get a passport 26 years ago.

Details released today show Garrett went to a graveyard to get the toddler's details, and that his passport application included a photograph of himself as a witness, disguised with glasses and dyed hair.

The court papers reveal Garrett told police he saw it as a "bit of a lark" and doubted it would work.

All details of the baby and the baby's family remain suppressed.

Following yesterday's revelations, a tvnz.co.nz poll has shown 88% of respondents think Garrett should resign from parliament with only 12% believing he is now fit to stay in the job.

Prime Minister John Key today declined to get involved in saying whether Garret should resign.

He told reporters: "In the end, that is probably a matter for him and for the Act party. But they have considered that when they admitted him to the Act party."

He described Garrett's behaviour of using the dead baby's identity as "bizarre".

Labour leader Phil Goff said this morning that Act had shown rank hypocrisy and it was time for National to stand a credible candidate against Hide in Epsom.

"How can you be a party of zero tolerance for crime... how can you talk about three strikes when Mr Garrett has had his three strikes; firstly sexual harassment, then conviction for assault and now conviction for theft of identity."

"The very worst thing here is for the family of that dead child whose identity was stolen," Goff told Radio New Zealand.

"They have effectively been gagged for years by a suppression order while they have to listen to Mr Garrett pontificating about being opposed to suppression orders, being in favour of openness, being in favour of the rights of victims and he's been anything but."

The deceased child's sister told The Dominion Post family members were upset and distressed.

Having only just been outed as having an assault conviction earlier this week, Garrett was forced to admit to parliament yesterday that he was arrested for stealing the dead baby's identity, saying it was a "harmless prank 26 years ago". His statement came after he was questioned about the issue by TVNZ news yesterday morning.

Identity theft victim speaks out

And the father of a newborn baby whose identity was stolen says Garrett should resign from parliament after the MP explained the crime away as a "harmless prank".

In 2008 Bruce Dale was jailed for two years and four months after he obtained the name of Michael Peach, a boy who had only lived for 10 hours, from his headstone, then forged a new life for himself in Christchurch after staging his disappearance at Port Waikato in 2002.

Michael's parents, Graham and Maureen Peach, had tended his grave for 47 years before it was revealed his name had been taken.

"We just couldn't believe it. This only happens to anyone else, it doesn't happen to you," Graham Peach told Radio New Zealand.

Following Garrett's revelation, Peach said the parents of the boy whose identity Garrett had stolen would have felt the same emotions they had felt.

"That they had been abused. I don't know how he can sit in parliament, to tell you the honest truth. I really, really don't. Why didn't he come out and say what he had done beforehand, instead of hiding. He is ashamed of what he has done now he has been caught out and now he wants to say it's a prank.

"He should be absolutely ashamed to say that, it's not a prank. I wouldn't wish it on him to go through."

Parliament did not need such untruthfulness, he said.

"If I had done something like that I would have to resign."

Assault

On Monday Garrett, a first term MP, confirmed he was charged with assault in Tonga in 2002 and fined $10. He said he was the innocent victim of an attack and had been trying to appeal the conviction ever since.

Hide has admitted he knew about the past incidents but is standing by Garrett.

But questions are now being asked about the impact of the latest scandal on Act's future.

One political commentator thinks there could be more damaging revelations to come from within the Act Party.

University of Otago political lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards is questioning the party's stability.

"What we're really seeing here is a reflection of how divided the party is and how dysfunctional it is because I think it's pretty obvious that this is linked from within the Act Party," Edwards told TVNZ News at 8.

"And we're seeing a party that's leaking like a sieve. All sorts of allegations are slowly coming out, some of them admitting to the leaking. So we've got a cold war situation. We've got some very bitter people and a very divided caucus and I think we'll see more of this kind of thing coming out, slowly being leaked, in an aim to damage the leadership of Act."

Last night on Close Up, Hide defended claims that the revelation about Garrett obtaining the false passport should have been made public earlier.

"I think that's a tough call and I mean have to take responsibility for that 'cause I knew about it," Hide said.

"And look, candidates have admitted lots of things to me about things in their past life, not convictions I hasten to add. But we haven't gone out there and said look here's all the things that might embarrass this MP in the future'."

When it was put to him that that was because he thought it would never come out, Hide replied: "Not at all. But think about it, when is the opportune time to announce this?"

Garrett is a tough campaigner for stronger sentences and got the "three strikes and you're out" legislation through parliament.

What do you think of David Garrett's actions? Share your thoughts on the messageboard below.

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  • tubbyt said on 2010-09-17 @ 22:35 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Garrett is gone, now independent. Hide would do well to watch his back. Garrett supported him 100%, and Hide's recent comments are his only reward. The whole situation must make any observer dispair. Let honesty and integrity, be the winners.

  • pragmatic1 said on 2010-09-17 @ 20:39 NZDT: Report abusive post

    A part of me feels sorry for Garrett. What he did was repugnant, but he told the party leader before entering politics. Hide was the one who covered things up from his own people and the rest of NZ. Now, he grasps at straws to throw all blame onto Garrett so he can save his own skin. In my opinion it makes Hide equally dispicable. And as for John Key, who continues to back Rodney Hide and keeps him in top Ministerial roles, knowing that about 99% of NZ doesn't want the ACT party in government...

  • nigel011 said on 2010-09-17 @ 18:16 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Get rid of Act, Criminals! Cant be trusted, sick of the last 12 months and the continued illegal, and untrusting behavour from them. If this is what mr Key wants to represent NZ ,Shame on him. BAN THE ACT PARTY AND ITS POLITIONS FOR EVER, FROM ANY REPRESENTATION FOR NZ. PEACE

  • jifar said on 2010-09-17 @ 17:41 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Rodney Hide's support for Garrett seems only to have disappreaed once the publicity surrounding his past made it untenable to do so. Neither men have any moral code and it will be good for NZ to be rid of them. I can't believe the low standards of public representation we will accept in this country.

  • eegapper said on 2010-09-17 @ 17:08 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I am not an Act Supporter yet I didn't blink an eyelid over the fighting incident as I saw it as the media stirring again. But I can't turn a blind eye to this one even if did happen 20 years ago. Having lost a baby myself I know how I would feel if it was my child's identity. This incident reminds me about the thoughts I have when today's student's get abit carried away; one day they will become our doctor, lawyer or politician - eventually it will come back to bite them on the bum!

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