Citizens Against Corruption challenged the reinstatement of Robert Tapaitau as Deputy Prime Minister in the High Court earlier this year. Tapaitau, left, is pictured with Prime Minister Mark Brown in Parliament. Photo: CALEB FOTHERINGHAM/22060150
Citizens Against Corruption (CAC) will challenge the reinstatement of Robert Tapaitau as Deputy Prime Minister in the High Court.
Solicitor counsel for the organisation, Norman George said CAC chairman Paul Allsworth instructed “an urgent application” to be made.
The application is seeking a Declaratory
Judgement to have the appointment of Tapaitau to be declared null and void by
the Court of Appeal of the Cook Islands.
In a statement, George said the
application was being made in the absence of the Opposition Democratic Party taking
“The actions of both the PM and QR (Queen’s
Representative) amount to a grievous destruction and desecration of the Rule of
Law in our country today,” George said in the statement.
Penrhyn MP Tapaitau, who is facing
fraud-related and theft charges, was suspended on full salary in October last
year. The Queen’s Representative, Sir Tom Marsters, acting on the advice of the
Prime Minister, revoked the suspension of Tapaitau late last month.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Mark Brown said
the Citizens Against Corruption
should be busy figuring out how to pay their current legal bills before getting
involved in other issues.
think Norman George and his failed group of conspirators, the Citizens Against
Corruption, are in the process of determining what their costs are going to be
to pay for their initial failed legal attempts,” Brown said making reference to
last year’s failed corruption case brought by the group against himself and
former PM Henry Puna.
think they have their hands full there rather than try and light political
fires around the place to make them still sound relevant.”
Leader of the Opposition, Tina Browne
said: “The Democratic Party does not think a Court
will interfere with decisions made by the executive arm of Government unless
there is a clear breach spelt out in the legislation.”
QR is obliged to act on the advice of the PM,” Browne said.
Court will enquire into the reason why the QR exercised his discretion a
Browne said her party sees a need to amend Article 14 (7) and (8) of the
Constitution “to prevent a flagrant abuse, as our country has just recently
experienced, with the revocation of Tapaitau’s suspension”.
Cook Islands’ special relationship with New Zealand, lawyer George said: “Former
NZ PM Norman Kirk laid the foundation of our relationship many decades ago. In
a letter to the Cook Islands Government, PM Kirk said ‘our relationship is
based on sharing common interests and values with each other’.”
“Removing the suspension of a Cabinet Minister
while facing four serious criminal charges before his trial will never be
acceptable in New Zealand.”
George cited Article
14 (7)(b) of the Constitution in the statement.
“The QR acting on the advice of the PM may
by instrument under the seal of the Cook Islands _ (b) suspend a minister
during the period of any investigation or inquiry into the conduct of the
“The QR was not obligated to accept the advice
of the PM. The QR should have sought independent legal advice and failed to
uphold the dignity of his office by proceeding with their appointment.
George said: “No competent lawyer worth
his beans will ever advice in favour of supporting the reinstatement of a
suspended Minister made prior to his trial.”
Corruption will ask the High Court to refer the
application directly to the Court of Appeal, the statement said.
George said the application was pursuant
to section 3 of the Declaratory Judgements Act 1994.
George said he was taking on the case pro bono but CAC had no funds for other matters associated with the case. He said any donations would be appreciated.