Kris Faafoi unhappy with Customs over rowdy tourist James Nolan's escape

Customs Minister Kris Faafoi has slammed the border protection agency after it was revealed rowdy tourist James Nolan escaped New Zealand due to a blunder by a Customs officer.

Customs NZ group manager of border operations Terry Brown told Newshub on Tuesday that Mr Nolan fled New Zealand using someone else's passport to get around border controls.

That's despite the man, best known as one of the British tourists who caused chaos across the North Island in January, being wanted by police for a raft of charges, including assault using a car, reckless driving, and fraud relating to roofing scams. 

"He used an eGate, which uses biometric data to match and confirm the identity of a passenger," said Mr Brown.

"The eGate identified further checks were needed on the passport. The image was automatically sent to a Customs officer, who incorrectly identified Nolan as the passport owner."

Now, Mr Faafoi has called on Customs to do better.

"Unfortunately that was a case of human error which shouldn't have occurred," a spokesperson for Mr Faafoi said.

"I have been reassured this is an exceptionally rare occurrence but of course it isn't acceptable, so Customs is looking into it."

Mr Brown said officers have been reminded of the importance of visual checks to validate the identity of travellers and a review into the processes that led to Mr Nolan's escape is underway.

Police say they are making enquiries with partner agencies.


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