New top cop apologises for eulogy

Mike Bush
Mike Bush
New Police Commissioner Mike Bush has apologised for a eulogy in which he praised the integrity of retired Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton last April.

Hutton was found by a Royal Commission of inquiry to have planted evidence used to convict Arthur Allan Thomas of the 1970 murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe.

Yesterday Mr Bush said the eulogy was raised with him during the selection interviews.

"My response was that the eulogy was given with the best of intentions, at a private funeral, to a grieving wife, children and grandchildren. But in hindsight, I can see how others interpreted that. There was offence caused to others. I understand that and I actually apologise for any offence that was caused by a Deputy Commissioner making those comments."

A police review of the case is underway into the Crewe murder case after a request by the Crewe's daughter, Rochelle Crewe.

Mr Bush has said he would not take any part in that review. Police Minister Anne Tolley said it was appropriate for him not to be involved. However, she said the eulogy was one incident in an otherwise strong career.

"I've told Mike Bush it was a line-call to give the eulogy, and it is something he regrets. But it is important to see it in the context of one incident in a highly impressive 35-year career serving the public.

''Quite simply, Mr Bush is one of our most experienced and successful officers, he has proven himself both at home and abroad, and I believe he will be an outstanding Commissioner."

Mr Bush, MNZM, is the current Deputy Commissioner Operations.

He has been appointed to his new role for a three-year term, commencing on April 3.

As Police Liaison Officer for South East Asia, Mr Bush was the first New Zealand official to reach Phuket following the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and was awarded the MNZM for his work during the operation.

He was also responsible for planning and operations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and led the rollout of smartphones and tablets for frontline staff which had contributed to an additional half a million frontline crime prevention hours each year, Police Minister Anne Tolley said.

Mr Bush has been Deputy Commissioner Operations since April 2011, and through Prevention First and Policing Excellence has managed a change programme in police which has contributed to a 17.4 per cent drop in recorded crimes over the past three years.

He has held challenging roles in rural, provincial and urban areas, and as District Commander in Counties Manukau he pioneered the implementation of Neighbourhood Policing Teams, which have successfully been introduced across the country, Mrs Tolley said.

The Governor-General made the appointment of Mr Bush as Commissioner of Police on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

"I believe Mike Bush will be an outstanding Commissioner of Police, and will build on the excellent work of the current Commissioner, Peter Marshall,'' Mrs Tolley said.

"Mr Bush has devoted 35 years of his life to serving the public with the New Zealand Police, and I congratulate him on his appointment.''

Mr Bush said he was honoured to be appointed as the next Commissioner of the New Zealand Police.

"Since joining the Police in 1978 as a young constable I am passionate about this job. I come to work every day knowing that I am part of an organisation that has a major impact upon people's lives,'' he said in a statement.

"NZ Police has an enviable international reputation and we are proud to hold the trust and confidence of the public.''

He also paid tribute to the current Commissioner of Police.

"Peter Marshall has championed change at Police in order to deliver better results to the Government and New Zealanders and to better support the victims of crime. Under his leadership, reported crime and road deaths have continued to fall and Police are spending more time focused on supporting victims and the community through a prevention-based approach.

"We are building a truly innovative and modern policing service and I am committed to continuing that journey and taking policing to the next level,'' Mr Bush said.

"My leadership priorities for the role will be delivering the results important to New Zealanders, being safe and feeling safe in our communities and putting victims at the heart of everything we do.

"I will continue the visible leadership role of the Commissioner of Police, both within Police and externally.''


A real opportunity

Turns out today after reading other mainstream media reports that Mr Bush has no intention of apologising to the Thomas family - it really does show that this Police enquiry as to how they handled the Crewe murder case requested by Rochelle Crewe will go absolutely nowhere.  Unless and until the NZ Police acknowledge for once and for all that Arthur Allan Thomas had nothing to do with this double homicide, that nothing will happen.  Mr Bush seems to be reinforcing the perception that the NZ Police still will not accept the findings of due legal process and tacitly accept that it is perfectly OK to plant evidence in order to convict what turned out to be an innocent man.  I think that this is an ideal opportunity for the ODT to clarify exactly what the NZ Police position is with respect to the innocence of Arthur Allan Thomas.

I agree

Russell: I agree - I've been thinking about it more today after hearing him expressing that he wished he hadn't said what he'd said. In the same position I'd probably wish that too - but it doesn't get to the heart of the point, he hasn't actually retracted what he did say.

What he should have said yesterday was something like "you know I was wrong to say that, what Bruce Hutton did was wrong, he should never have planted evidence, and as a policeman he certainly did not act with the sort of integrity that we expect each and every one of our officers to show". Now that would have shown that he was prepared to lead the police force, instead he's left his words out there as truth for all his officers to see while basically saying he's sorry he was caught out, I don't think he is the appropriate person to lead the police and should resign.

Why such a long time?

Yes Mike, his apology to the Thomas family should be carried out in private - I will be interested though in whether he publicly withdraws his statements made at the Hutton funeral.  I would not have thought that any cop that takes part in planting of evidence can be held to be of a character described by Bush as having impeccable standards etc.  The most interesting thing however is the length of time that this enquiry into the Police actions around the Crewe murders and the wrongful conviction of Arthur Allan Thomas is taking. 

I am certainly aware of many current or past Police officers who believe that despite the Thomas pardon and the finding of Police planting evidence, that Thomas got off on a technicality.  If such beliefs exist in the hierarchy of the NZ Police it would explain a lot as to why this enquiry seems to be taking forever to conclude.

It would be appropriate if Bush were to publicly state that the NZ Police fully accept Thomas's innocence - something that I don't believe they have ever done.

We expect better

Russel: I think whether he apologizes or not is really between him and the Thomases - the real issue though is that NZ's top cop has expressed his opinion that manufacturing evidence to frame someone is behaviour that is "integrity beyond reproach" - we expect better than this from the leadership of our police force.

Apology or not?

Easy enough to sort of apologise for that eulogy given to Bruce Hutton who was found to have planted evidence that ended in the wrongful conviction of Thomas, but more than time to come up with some answers as to the real killers of the Crewes.  The reality is that the NZ Police have not really accepted that Arthur Allan Thomas was not in any way connected with this double homicide.  How many years has it now been?  More than time for them to really accept the innocence of Thomas.  But no doubt Bush thought about his eulogy at the time of Hutton's funeral and his attitude reflects the real feelings of this case.  The apology means little without real acceptance.

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