Opposition leader Simon Bridges called on Jacinda Ardern today to fire her Immigration Minister after his "careless decision" allowing a drug dealing gang associate to remain in New Zealand without reading all the information available to him.
"The Prime Minister now has no choice but to sack Mr Lees-Galloway from Cabinet immediately," Bridges said in a statement.
Mr Lees-Galloway has said he carefully considered all the relevant information before allowing Czech convict Karel Sroubek to stay in New Zealand. But today he acknowledged the entire process took "an hour or so" and that he didn't read the entire file.
It was "much, much longer" than he'd taken on other cases, he told RNZ.
"I took the time that I felt was necessary," he said. "I certainly asked questions. I certainly looked closely at different aspects of the file."
Mr Bridges is now arguing the latest revelation in the ongoing controversy should be enough to send Mr Lees-Galloway on his way.
"The Prime Minister has defended that decision for the past two weeks, telling New Zealanders it was a ‘difficult decision’ but that she had been assured by Mr Lees-Galloway he had given it ‘careful consideration’," Bridges said. "We now know he hadn't.
“Mr Lees-Galloway’s credibility is now shot. The Prime Minister cannot expect the public to have confidence in any of his decisions given his careless approach to Mr Sroubek’s residency. The Prime Minister now has no choice but to sack Mr Lees-Galloway from Cabinet immediately."
Sroubek was jailed in New Zealand in 2016 for five years and nine months for importing the drug MDMA and entering the country under a false passport.
The Czech Republic's Ministry of Justice is now preparing an extradition request.
In a statement, prosecutors overseas said as well as seeking prosecution for attempted bodily harm and disorderly conduct, Sroubek had a conviction for disorderly conduct, damaging another's property and attacking a law enforcement officer.
"He is required to serve a sentence of imprisonment of four years and six months in relation to those convictions," a spokesperson said.
Mr Lees-Galloway has ordered an investigation into the information he received from officials, which led to his decision to let Sroubek stay in New Zealand once he is released from jail.
The investigation has been given a three-week deadline, but both the Prime Minister and Mr Lees-Galloway want it done more quickly than that.