Prime Minister John Key says he will not personally
apologise to the victim of an alleged sexual attack involving a
Malaysian diplomat, after she accused him of appearing bored
and unconcerned with her case.
It was the first time Mr Key has responded to criticism by
Wellington woman Tania Billingsley, who waived name
suppression earlier this month in order to speak out on her
In a television interview, Ms Billingsley panned the
Government for allowing Muhammed Rizalman bin Ismail to leave
New Zealand claiming diplomatic immunity, after he allegedly
attacked her in her Brooklyn home in May.
She also said Mr Key had appeared unconcerned with her case.
"I just remember the first, the very first thing I watched on
it, and just seeing him looking bored and annoyed at having
to be talking about it and just saying there's nothing that
we can do pretty much; 'Oh it sucks but it is what it is',"
she told TV3's 3rd Degree.
Asked today whether he would personally apologise to Ms
Billingsley, Mr Key said: "I think that's been made clear by
the various different authorities.
"What's far more important now is that the independent
inquiry that's been established and will be run by John
Whitehead actually gets to the bottom of all of the
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFAT) head John Allen apologised to Ms
Billingsley when the case became public, though Ms
Billingsley said the minister's public apology was
Mr Key said: "I don't make apologies unless there's a serious
reason for me to do that. As I said at the time I relied on
the advice that was given to me by MFAT."
Asked about Ms Billingsley's claim that he appeared bored
with her case, he said: "I'm just not going to engage in that
Rizalman was arrested on May 10 and charged with burglary and
assault with intent to rape. MFAT asked Malaysia to waive
immunity so he could face the charges, but behind-the-scenes
communications led Malaysia to believe he could return home.
Malaysia agreed to send Rizalman back to New Zealand to face
the charges, but his return has been delayed while his mental
health was being assessed.
Mr Key said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke to him
during the Prime Minister's holiday in Hawaii, and reassured
him the diplomat would be sent back to New Zealand.
The independent inquiry is looking at how Rizalman was
allowed to leave New Zealand, and why ministers were not
informed about developments in the case until it was
publicised by the Herald on Sunday.
- Isaac Davison of the NZ Herald