Nicholas free to carry on as MP

Monday April 15, 2019 Written by Published in National

Clerk of Parliament Tangata Vainerere says Albert Nicholas is free to carry on as an MP as he has not been convicted of any crime.

 

The Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston MP, who was sworn in at Parliament last Monday, has copped criticism from some letter writers to this newspaper over a charge he is facing in a New Zealand court.

Nicholas pleaded not guilty to the charge of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle in his first appearance in February this year in Auckland.

An arrest warrant was issued for him after he failed to turn up to Manukau District Court last month. CI News understands he was ill last month and had presented his medical certificates to court.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Clerk of Parliament Vainerere said Nicholas was in “a little bit of a legal situation right now”.

He also said the Cook Islands regulations do not bar any member from Parliament even up to the stage of being arrested. 

“Our laws clearly say that when a member is convicted of any crime under the Crimes Act, then that member will be dealt with accordingly by the Privileges Committee of Parliament and they will be declared no longer Members of Parliament. So that's why he had to go through his swearing in on the presumption that everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Vainerere told RNZ.

He said Nicholas was free to attend Parliament and participate in sittings and also free to continue his work as an MP in the community.

Nicholas in an interview with CI News earlier last week said he was determined to clear his name and deliver in the job he has been voted for.

“At one point I was contemplating about maybe it’s time for me just to move on and do other things but with unanimous support from my community, they pretty much talked me out of it,” Nicholas said.

“There was even comments being made that I still had a lot to offer - and I do - but it was just trying to find the inspiration to do it. I think I got the inspiration when I decided go back in the club and help the club out through (rugby) league.

“I think through that process I have really got super inspired to get myself back up and get back in Parliament and try to make some good changes.

“I’m in a good space at the moment and it looks like things will get better than this.”

Meanwhile New Zealand Police in a statement to TVNZ said the agency would not be seeking extradition for Nicholas, however, “should this individual return to New Zealand, he would be arrested at the airport”.

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