Law may change after accused mosque gunman's letter posted to far-right message board

The man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch terrorist attack has written to members of a far-right message board from prison, prompting the Government to look at changing the law.

Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch. Source: 1 NEWS

Newsroom reports a letter written by Brenton Tarrant and posted to the far-right message board 4chan has been confirmed as authentic by Corrections.

The Australian is on remand in Auckland's Paremoremo Prison, accused of the murder of 51 worshippers, the attempted murder of 40 others and one charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act, following a shooting rampage at two mosques in Christchurch in March.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has told 1 NEWS he does not believe Corrections should have allowed this letter to be sent and has sought assurances from them that there will be "an enhanced process from now on". 

"I have made myself clear that this can not happen again," Mr Davis said in a statement this evening. 

"We have never had to manage a prisoner like this before – and I have asked questions around whether our laws are now fit for purpose and asked for advice on what changes we may now need to make," the minister said.

"I know a lot of New Zealanders will be surprised to hear that this offender is allowed to send and receive mail – but there are rights every prisoner has under the law as it stands," he said.

"Corrections do have the right to withhold correspondence in accordance with the Act – and they have used this power to withhold some correspondence the prisoner has attempted to send, and some he was to receive," Mr Davis said.

Newsroom reports that in the letter to a Russian member of 4chan, the accused shooter discusses a trip he took to the country in 2015 and elaborates on his ideological influences.

Corrections admitted tonight that the letter should have been withheld and said it's changed the management of this prisoner's mail.

"On review, we acknowledge that this letter should have been withheld. We have made changes to the management of this prisoner’s mail to ensure that our robust processes are as effective as we need them to be," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"Corrections is legislatively required to manage prisoners in accordance with the provisions set out in the Corrections Act 2004 and our international obligations for the treatment of all prisoners," the spokesperson said. 

One of the legal minimum entitlements every prisoner has is to send and receive mail and a Prison Director can only withhold a prisoner’s mail in a very limited range of circumstances, the statement said. 

"Some letters have been withheld," the spokesperson said.