'Privacy is critical' in Sroubek's residency case - Winston Peters

The Deputy Prime Minister has voiced support for the Immigration Minister over his decision to grant a convicted criminal from the Czech Republic residency.

Winston Peters says he has reviewed the case and is comfortable with the outcome, telling RadioLIVE that criticism over Minister Iain Lees-Galloway's decision is unjustified because people don't know the details of the case. 

The fact that no details have been shared is what has angered the Opposition, as well as media figures such as The AM Show's Duncan Garner.

But Mr Peters stands by the minister's decision, telling RadioLIVE "privacy is critical" in such cases. He said critics might feel different about the decision if the case involved someone close to them and could affect them personally. 

"How can you say [other people are] more deserving if you don't know the facts of the case you're comparing it against?" he said in response to claims there are others more deserving of New Zealand residency. 

According to Garner, 600 would-be immigrants who wanted to set up a business here in New Zealand under the business category were turned away last year.

Mr Peters pointed to the minister's right to make decisions with "absolute discretion", which means he does not have to provide a reason for the decisions he makes. The deputy PM said he's read over the case and is fully satisfied with the minister's conclusion. 

"There is an enormous amount of precedent for a minister to make a decision like this, and one of the things that is bound with the decision is the privacy issue, because it goes to the very safety of the people involved," said Mr Peters. 

"Do I like it? No, I don't. Do I understand it? In the circumstances, yes I do."

Mr Peter's comments came after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also defended Mr Lees-Galloway's decision, telling The AM Show it was a difficult call for him to make, and that Sroubek now has a "very clear understanding of the choices he is now making". 

The Opposition has criticised the minister's decision, calling for more transparency on why the convicted drug importer was being protected by the Government. It's understood Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik, fled to New Zealand after being threatened by corrupt Czech police, and his life could be in danger if he returned home. 

National leader Simon Bridges has demanded answers over Mr Lees-Galloway's decision to keep Sroubek in New Zealand, telling The AM Show on Monday that he should have been "gone by lunchtime".