McCully disappointed that US won't waive diplomat's immunity after incident

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Foreign Minister Murray McCully says it's "disappointing" that the US government has refused to waive immunity for one of its diplomats.

Police want to speak with US diplomat Colin White over an incident in Lower Hutt, but his government won't waive his immunity.
Source: 1 NEWS

1News revealed last night that police want to question technical Chris White over an incident in Lower Hutt on Sunday. But the US embassy in Wellington have refused a request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to waive diplomatic immunity.

Mr McCully says the crime under investigation was "serious" and New Zealand's Ambassador in Washington DC Tim Groser has raised the matter with the US Government.

The ministry ordered the Americans to send Mr White home and an embassy source has confirmed to 1 NEWS that Mr White has now left New Zealand. Mr White's wife - who is also a diplomat - and children are also understood to have left as well.

Mr McCully is in Samoa today and declined to be interviewed. But in a written statement he told 1News he was told of the incident on Sunday "shortly after MFAT was advised by police."

Police had been called to an address in the Tirohanga suburb, but Mr White had fled the scene, with a black eye and cracked nose.

Mr McCully went on: "Whether or not to request a waiver of immunity is a decision that rests with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs [Brook Barrington].

"This occurred in the afternoon of Monday 13 March, in accordance with New Zealand's policy to request a waiver of immunity when Police wish to investigate allegations of serious crimes.

"I was kept informed of MFAT's decision, and I am satisfied with the way the Ministry has conducted this process."

He added: "Officials in Wellington and our Ambassador in Washington DC have clearly conveyed to the United States the expectation that foreign diplomats obey the law in New Zealand and are seen to face justice in New Zealand.

"The refusal to waive immunity is disappointing, and as a result MFAT has asked that the diplomat be withdrawn from New Zealand.

"I note that the United States has said all allegations are always fully investigated."

A US embassy spokeswoman last night told 1News: "We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US Government personnel.

"Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated."

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