Foreign Minister Murray McCully says it was "good and
proper process" for him to leave the case of a Malaysian
diplomat accused of sex crimes to authorities.
Mr McCully defended not becoming involved in the case for
seven weeks - after the story had broken in the media - in an
interview with RNZ this morning.
"It's a good and proper process to leave these matters to the
prosecutorial authorities, the police on one hand and the
consular protocol authorities."
His role was to stand back, he said.
"The appropriate thing to do here is to enable the police on
one hand and the protocol people on the other to take it
through the system - and that is what always happens in these
"I was confident that I would be told if anything significant
happened on the case."
If ministers second-guessed all advise they received from
their officials, it would add heavily to their workload, Mr
"I was entitled to believe what I was told in black and white
and forwarded to the Prime Minister was correct.
"The first time there was any question about the advise that
I got was when I saw the remarks by the Malaysian Foreign
Minister and I thought 'Hey, this doesn't sound like the
briefing material I've been given, this doesn't sound like
the position that New Zealand officials told me', and that's
when I asked to see the files and that's when I asked to talk
Mr McCully has not offered his resignation over the matter.
But he said there did need to be someone held to account and
the ministry was investigating the matter.
"I intend to see that this matter is followed through, that
those responsible are held to account."
Mr McCully would not be drawn on whether heads will roll
within Mfat over the debacle.
In an interview with RadioLIVE this morning he said the
inquiry Mr Allen was undertaking within Mfat would establish
whether any jobs were on the line over the handling of the
"If I say that [heads will roll] that's going to no doubt
prejudice the outcome... this is a very, very serious
matter... I've made my views on that very clear. The chief
executive has undertaken to me that he will conduct the
appropriate inquiries and hold people to account, and that's
as far as I can take it," he said.
"We need to make sure we don't have a repeat of what's
occurred in recent weeks."
Former Labour Party Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff told
Radio New Zealand Mr McCully had to explain why there was
such an "extraordinary indifference or incompetence" by him
and the Ministry in dealing with the matter.
"Speaking as a former foreign minister I know for a fact in
an extraordinary situation like this, the minister would be
right on top of the issue.
"He would be having daily negotiations and discussions
through his chief executive officer in the ministry - the
matter would never have been able to drift as this has been
allowed to drift."
It seemed Mr McCully was more interested in sweeping the
issue under the carpet than taking the matter up and seeing
justice done for the alleged offence, Mr Goff said.
The Malaysian Government would be embarrassed that one of
their nationals had allegedly behaved illegally, he said.
"And according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in
Malaysia, in his comments yesterday, this was always on the
table, this was always on offer, it's simply that the New
Zealand Government hadn't chosen to take that up."
Prime Minister John Key and Mr McCully had damaged the
relationship with Malaysia by initially accusing them of not
offering to waive Ismail's diplomatic immunity, Mr Goff said.