Former justice minister Kiri Allan says she has pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to accompany a police officer on the basis that she did not have access to a lawyer.
Allan is facing charges of refusing to accompany a police officer and careless driving after crashing her car in Wellington earlier this year.
A statement posted on Allan’s Instagram account said she requested to speak to a lawyer both immediately before and after her arrest.
Police did not allow her to and the charge resulted from her unwillingness to accompany the police without the ability to speak to a lawyer, the statement said.
“The issue here is that such a fundamental legal right sits in a grey area which several senior lawyers in NZ from both a defence and prosecution perspective have not been able to provide a unified view on,” it said.
The statement said all agreed that the law was currently uncertain.
Allan said laws should be clear and accessible to all New Zealanders, not just legal professionals.
A guilty plea would likely result in a minor fine, there would not be the need to turn up in court and it would cost very little, she said.
“The route of taking the matter through the courts will be incredibly exposing, it will be costly, and it will require a personal attendance in the court.”
Allan said it was a significant decision and its sole purpose was to ensure that the police and New Zealanders “have certainty about when the right to legal counsel is available”.
The hearing is set down for next year.