Exclusive: Immigration Minister grants residency to another convicted criminal after Karel Sroubek

Convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek wasn't the only criminal Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway granted residency to, Newshub can reveal.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show since Lees-Galloway took office in October 2017, two people with criminal convictions have been allowed to stay in New Zealand.

A graphic explaining the convictions. One person had six convictions for driving with excess blood alcohol and two convictions for driving without a licence. The other (Karel Sroubek) had one drug conviction and two driving related convictions.
The convictions. Photo credit: Newshub.

One person had six convictions for driving with excess breath alcohol plus two convictions for driving without a licence.

The documents show the decision was made using Lees-Galloway's absolute discretion. "This person is a protected person in New Zealand and deportation was not an option," he said.

According to Immigration New Zealand, a protected person is a person for whom there are "substantial grounds for believing she or he would be in danger of torture, arbitrary deprivation of life or cruel treatment if deported from New Zealand".

National Party justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell told Newshub Lees-Galloway needs to front up to a lot of unanswered questions.

"There better be some very good reasons for it because he's granted residency to someone who's got multiple drink driving offences, so he's a recidivist offender. You're playing Russian roulette with Kiwis' lives when you've got someone out there drink driving.

"Not only that, I think he's got two convictions for driving without a licence as well. It's showing he's got absolutely no care or concern about our laws and the safety of other road users."

Karel Sroubek was the other criminal granted residency. The initial decision made by Lees-Galloway to allow him to stay was shrouded in controversy. The minister pulled a u-turn, revoking his initial decision after public outrage and political pressure after it was revealed he made the decision in under an hour and without reading Sroubek's full immigration file.

The OIA response.
The OIA response. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Czech kickboxer, also known as Jan Antolik, fled to New Zealand on a false passport in 2003 before being convicted of importing 5kg of ecstasy. He was sentenced to five years and nine months imprisonment. In justifying his initial decision, Lees-Galloway said Sroubek's life could be in danger if he returned to the Czech Republic. Sroubek then admitted he had travelled back twice to his home country under a false identity.

His legal team filed an appeal with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal on December 18, 2018, to stop him from being deported, but no hearing date appears to have been set. Earlier this month the Parole Board denied his attempts to leave prison due to his "undue risk". 

The Immigration Minister refused an interview with Newshub about granting residencies to convicted criminals. Mitchell says he's got a credibility issue so that's not good enough.

"This minister has not got a good track record. He's going to have to front. There's going to have to be transparency around it, and he's going to have to explain why a decision like this was made when we've got good law-abiding people in this country that would make good citizens that have been turned down every week".

"I don't think this country has got a lot of faith in his decision-making ability when it comes to these types of cases."

An independent review into Immigration New Zealand's process for residence deportation liability decisions was sparked from the Sroubek case. It found there is room for improvement.