Crewe case challenge for new top policeman

Mike Bush - new police commissioner.
Mike Bush - new police commissioner.
Arthur Allan Thomas' brother says new police commissioner Mike Bush should apologise to Mr Thomas directly for a recent eulogy and ensure resolving the Crewe murders has priority.

Deputy Police Commissioner Mr Bush was announced as the new commissioner to take over from Peter Marshall in April. Yesterday he apologised for any offence he caused in a eulogy for retired Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton last April in which he praised his integrity. Mr 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 Jeannette Crewe.

Des Thomas, Arthur Allan Thomas' brother, said Mr Bush should make that apology directly to Mr Thomas.

"Mike Bush made a mistake with the eulogy about Hutton. At this stage, I'm willing to give Mike Bush the benefit of the doubt if he was at least to apologise to Arthur. Then the Crewe murder case needs to be cleaned up.

"This is not just about Arthur. The whole public of New Zealand should be interested in cleaning this case up."

Mr Bush said he would not take any part in the police review into the Crewe murders. The eulogy was raised with him during the selection interviews for commissioner.

"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."

Police Minister Anne Tolley said it was appropriate Mr Bush was not involved in the police review. The eulogy was one incident in an otherwise strong 35-year career, she said.

"I've said that I think that was a bit of a line call," she told Radio New Zealand

"I think he will do an outstanding job ... I am very confident he will be a great Commissioner."

Mr Bush made the comments when reading from Mr Hutton's service record at his funeral, in front of his family, Ms Tolley said.

"It is quite common for police. They are a big family and they do attend the funerals of fellow officers and it is very common for their service record comments to be read."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said Mr Bush was wise to "clear the decks" before he stepped into the role.

"He's got a heck of a job ahead of him and the last thing he needs is this dogging him through his commissionership," Mr O'Connor told TV3's Firstline.

"He's got big budget problems, he's got organised crime problems, and so if this thing keeps popping up it's going to be a distraction to what he really needs to do.

"[It's] best he makes a mistake like this while he's the deputy commissioner."

Mr Bush was selected from a shortlist of three. The others were Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard and Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff. The role pays about $650,000 a year and involves overseeing about 12,000 staff.


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