'I didn't take any action' - Former Defence Minister under scrutiny as Operation Burnham inquiry wraps up

Head of Operation Burnham concedes civilians may have been killed in an Afghanistan raid in 2010, suggesting he may have mislead parliamentary colleagues and the New Zealand public.

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The former Defence Minister was questioned during the Operation Burnham inquiry. Source: 1 NEWS

Former Defence Minister Wayne Mapp was today under serious interrogation at the tail-end of an inquiry into 2010's Operation Burnham, as allegations six civilians were killed in an SAS raid in Afghanistan were long-denied by New Zealand’s top defence officials.

A report later found that denial was wrong and civilian deaths were possible.

Mr Mapp, who was Defence Minister at the time, says he never once read the IAT report and wasn't even sure if his office received it - relying solely on the advice of former SAS commander Jim Blackwell at the time.

Jim Blackwell says he told the minister civilian casualties - though unlikely - could have occurred.

Inquiry lawyer Kristy McDonald QC, questioned whether Mr Mapp was just taking the fall.

“Mr Blackwell has given evidence that it was you - if anyone that would be responsible for the cover up of the IAT and the possibility of civilian casualties,” she said.

Mr Mapp responded that “any decisions made were my responsibility, not his”.

Ms McDonald then asked: “Has someone asked you to take responsibility for not correcting the public record?” 

“No.” Mr Mapp responded.

Mr Mapp says what he claims was a lack of actual evidence, meant he didn’t take the issue further.

“I thought it was just one of those things that was a fog of war,” he said.

He also didn’t raise it with then-Prime Minister, John Key.

“The reality is, I didn’t take any action, I know that,” he said.

A lack of action which led to this inquiry years later, which is now charged with getting to the truth.

That report is expected back in March next year.