The National Manager of the Police Prosecution Service, Superintendent Graham Thomas advises that in the Wellington District Court today the police withdrew the charge of disorderly behaviour against Mr Shane Ardern, MP, and instead have formally warned him in relation to the incident.
Mr Ardern was charged with disorderly behaviour following an incident in Parliament grounds on 4 February 2003 where, during a Federated Farmers Association protest against the then proposed Gas Emission Tax, he drove a tractor up the main exterior steps of Parliament Buildings.
Mr Thomas said his decision was made after fully evaluating the judicial comments at a Status Hearing on 25 November 2003.
"I am satisfied the decision to put Mr Ardernâ€™s case back before the Court was the right one given its profile and the police view that there was a prima facie case for Mr Ardern to answer" said Mr Thomas.
Mr Thomas said doing so ensured transparency in the prosecution process and gave the Court the opportunity to provide guidance at the Status Hearing on the efficacy of continuing this particular prosecution.
" In light of that hearing I considered it appropriate to now seek the leave of the Court to withdraw the charge and the Court has agreed."
The warning has been conveyed in writing to Mr Ardern.
"I must stress that the post-charge decisions in respect of this matter have been mine as the National Manager of the Police Prosecution Service. The processes I followed were at all times consistent with the independence vested in the Police Prosecution Service," said Mr Thomas.