Statement from Paula Bennett - RePress


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Saturday, January 31

Statement from Paula Bennett

The Minister for Social Development and Employment and Waitakere MP Paula Bennett is today releasing two letters she wrote in relation to Viliami Halaholo.

The letters were sent in a private capacity while Ms Bennett was an opposition MP, and support his rehabilitation.

"I allowed him to live at my house while on bail, and supported his efforts to turn his life around. I felt writing the letters was the best way to support my daughter and grandchild", Ms Bennett says.

The first letter dated 11 June 2007 was sent to the judge who sentenced Mr Halaholo. The second is to the Parole Board at the time of Mr Halaholo's hearing on 28 July 2008.

In them, Ms Bennett acknowledges Mr Halaholo has made mistakes, but with the support of friends and family he will be able to move forward with his life.

Ms Bennett says she decided the letters should be released in light of media questions as to whether she had, as a Minister, attempted to intervene on behalf of her daughter's partner.

"The simple fact is that I have taken absolutely no actions as a Minister that could be construed as attempting to influence this case. In the interest of making my position totally clear I have decided to release the two letters that I wrote in a personal capacity. I made Prime Minister John Key aware of these letters late this week.

"With the benefit of hindsight, I accept I should have made the Prime Minister aware of these letters when this matter became public last weekend and I have apologised to him for my failure to do so. I am releasing the letters now so the public can have access to the facts."

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