Czech convict controversy has been a ‘debacle’, but it’s premature to call for minister’s head, political commentator says

Calls for Iain Lees-Galloway to resign as Immigration Minister are premature, but his competency can be challenged after allowing a convicted drug smuggler from the Czech Republic to stay in NZ.

That's the opinion of political commentator Bryce Edwards, who told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning the Government official has "huge questions" about how he handled Karel Sroubek's case.

"I think at this stage we should hold off on the resignation demands," he said.

"Lets keep demanding answers from this minister and the Government because they have gone secretive on all this, they haven't handled it well and it is a debacle.

"It deals with so many hot-button issues for New Zealanders about immigration, law and order, drugs, secrecy, corruption - there are some really important issues here."

While Mr Edwards agrees Mr Lees-Galloway has "genuine grievance" about information given to him from immigration officers about Sroubek, he says that doesn't mean the minister can get off the hook.

"We still expect all our ministers to seek out information, to push back against officials and make sure they're given the full information," he said. "I don't think it does quite wash for him just to say he was given bad information.

"He has to ask the hard questions and he obviously didn't."

The government is also to blame, Mr Edwards surmised.

"The media and the Opposition will keep the pressure on the government over this because they've been so secret on it and that's what made it worse for them," he said.

"I think the government needs to get back to being a bit more upfront about some of these issues."

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Bryce Edwards says the Immigration Minister is in hot water for his handling of Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek. Source: Breakfast

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