Man who called Golriz Ghahraman a genocide denier denies calling her a genocide denier

The man who accused Green MP Golriz Ghahraman of being a "straightforward genocide denier" now denies having said that.

Ms Ghahraman worked on United Nations war crimes tribunals in Rwanda, The Hague and in Cambodia. In Rwanda and The Hague she was on the defence team.

She's faced a series of accusations of failing to be explicit about her work defending war criminals, including in a biography on the Green Party website. The biography described her work as "putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power." The biography has now been amended to explicitly mention defence work. 

Ms Ghahraman insists she has always been open about defende work, including on her LinkedIn page and in interviews.

Some of the strongest condemnations have come from one man, Phil Quin, a former New Zealand Labour Party staffer who worked as a consultant to the Rwandan government.

On Sunday, in a now-deleted tweet, he said Ms Ghahraman is a genocide denier.

"Hook, line and sinker. She's a straightforward genocide denier. Goodbye, hope you enjoyed your few weeks in Parliament. I'm sure some Assad henchmen could do with your help," he tweeted.

But last night, he changed his tune.

"I've never said @golrizghahraman is a genocide denier but she volunteered to work for a defence whose strategy was to cast doubt on the veracity of the historical record, i.e. revisionism  part and parcel of denial. If she now rejects that theory, she could say so," he tweeted.

Phil Quin's tweets.
Phil Quin's tweets. Photo credit: Reddit

When someone pointed out that he has called her a genocide denier, he said he "should retract that" and deleted the earlier tweet.

He then offered an apology.

"It was pointed out correctly that I did use the term genocide denier in a flurry of excitement upon discovering  a paper that hypothesized troubling theories about the genesis of the genocide. I should not have used that term w/o further evidence & I apologize to @golrizghahraman".

Ms Ghahraman told Newshub on Tuesday the suggestion she is a genocide denier is "offensive" and "gross".

"We all came together as people who all wanted genocide to be a crime and to be treated like a crime, so you have a criminal trial," she said.

"You want that community to go back to a system of human rights, rather than to go forward and keep having war after war."

The Law Society says criticism of defence lawyers is not acceptable. 

"It is totally wrong to identify the lawyer with the client's actions," Law Society President Kathryn Beck said.