Wānaka Sun       

When ‘hard and early’ is wrong

Posted at 10:25am Saturday 18 Sep, 2021 | By Roy Pilott Author

 

 

Tuesday's apology by Auckland couple William Willis and Hannah Rawnsley for a flagrant breach of Lockdown rules was as orchestrated as the trip they took.

The best one could say about the couple was that in keeping with Jacinda Ardern's battle on Covid, they went hard, and they went early.

It was only because they were dobbed in in Wānaka that their behaviour became public – but even then, every step of the story had an unsatisfactory tone.

Police revealed the breach on Sunday, telling media they had flown from Hamilton to Wānaka. In fact, they flew to Wellington, then Queenstown and then drove to Wānaka.

Police refused to say what day they flew, how long they were in transit and where and when they returned to Auckland and how. On Monday we asked if the limited information released at the weekend was linked to the fact one of the two was the son of a prominent New Zealander.

Answer: “This matter remains under investigation and until the investigation is complete we are not in a position to provide more detail,” police spokesperson Katherine Saxton told the Wānaka Sun on Monday

“Any queries about testing or other components of the health advice, or potential locations of interest, should be directed to Ministry of Health.”

Pressed again with questions, including one about the release of information, Alexander Lewin responded “as Kate said below our investigation is not complete and as such we are not in a position to provide more detail”. The first “not” was put in bold type.

Rawnsley is a lawyer. Willis is the son of District Court Judge Mary-Beth Sharp.

The holiday home the couple used is reportedly jointly owned by Willis' father Robert, barrister Tony Bouchier and his wife, district court judge Josephine Bouchier.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood back from the case on Monday, leaving it to police to discuss. There were no alerts from the Ministry of Health.

That is not consistent with other cases of Lockdown breaches.  

Legally, the case has also broken unusual ground – a suppression order was issued in a case where no charges had been laid. 

“The issue is one of jurisdiction, not merit, Judge Bruce Davidson said in ordering the suppression. “As I have noted my preliminary view, in the limited time available to me and without full argument of the matter, was that I did not have jurisdiction.

“However, it must be at least arguable that the District Court does have jurisdiction under its incidental and implied powers, to make such orders.” 

The order gave the couple until 7pm Tuesday to advance their case to the High Court. They chose not to.

The names are out, the apologies have been made – but there is more to come – a lot more than might have been the case had this matter not followed such an unusual path.

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