Fri, Sep 17, 2010 - Page 5 News List

NZ parliamentarian faces calls to resign after passport stunt

AFP, WELLINGTON

A New Zealand politician who sparked outrage with an admission he stole a dead toddler’s identity to obtain a fake passport faced calls to resign yesterday.

David Garrett, law and order spokesman for the conservative ACT party, revealed on Wednesday that he acquired the passport in 1984 using a method detailed in the thriller novel Day of the Jackal.

The New Zealand Herald ran the story under the headline “Day of the Jackass” and conducted an online poll in which 84 percent of 5,000-plus respondents demanded Garrett’s resignation.

“He is now an embarrassment to his party. The decent thing for him to do would be to resign,” the newspaper said.

A crime victim, Graham Peach, whose dead son’s identity was stolen in a similar case, also said Garrett should quit.

“I don’t know how he can sit in parliament, to tell you the honest truth,” Peach told Radio New Zealand.

Garrett admitted in parliament that he applied for a birth certificate in the name of a child who died shortly after he was born then successfully used it to get the passport.

Garrett, a barrister before entering parliament, said he was arrested in 2005 and discharged without conviction after admitting in court that he obtained a passport under false pretences.

He refused to comment further on the case yesterday but other details emerged when the Herald obtained a police statement of facts from the 2005 court hearing in which he described his actions as “a bit of a lark.”

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said he was shocked to learn of Garrett’s behavior and described his actions as bizarre, but stopped short of calling for the politician to resign.

“In the end, that’s probably a matter for him and a matter for the ACT Party,” he said.

The ACT Party is a minority partner in Key’s conservative government, although Garrett does not hold a ministerial position.

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