Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway didn't request court judgements before granting drunk driver residency

The Immigration Minister wasn't provided court judgements and didn't request any when making his decision to grant a convicted drunk driver residency.

Newshub previously revealed Iain Lees-Galloway granted residency to a second criminal since taking office - as well as convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek, he gave residency to a protected person who hasn't been named.

The unnamed criminal has eight criminal convictions. Six are for driving with excess breath alcohol and two are for driving without a licence.

In response to parliamentary written questions, Lees-Galloway said, "No court judgements formed part of the file nor did I request access to any as part of my decision making process."

National's justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell told Newshub it's not a surprise.

"It highlights that fact you've got a minister that is completely inept in terms of not doing his job. He's not asking the right questions and as a result he's making very poor decisions that aren't in the best interests and the safety of New Zealanders."

The minister didn't read the full Sroubek file and made his original decision to grant residency in under an hour. Court documents later revealed the convicted Czech drug smuggler returned to Europe in 2009 despite Sroubek's claim his life would be in danger if he was deported. Lees-Galloway then flip flopped on his decision which he put down to "new information" that "directly contradicted" his original decision coming to light.

Mark Mitchell says the granting of residency to the protected person feels like déjà vu

"It's completely consistent, the same behaviour, the same approach that the minister took with Sroubek and the same result, a very poor decision. Now the Government's lost all its options in terms of being able to remove this person in the future. Instead of giving him a work visa, they've given him residency."

The written questions also revealed the protected person hasn't been convicted of crimes outside of New Zealand, as far as Immigration New Zealand is aware. The person was notified on May 31, 2019 that residency was granted to them, and hasn't been charged or convicted of anything since then. Lees-Galloway has no knowledge of any associations with other convicted criminals. The minister has made assurances he did read the full file.

Documents previously provided to Newshub under the Official Information Act 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."

According to Immigration New Zealand, a protected person is someone 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 granted the repeat drink-driver a three-year temporary visa in 2013, and Immigration NZ gave the person another in 2016. 

"They were on temporary work visas when I looked at the case and made a pragmatic decision to give them residency given that we can't deport this person," Lees-Galloway said in a statement to Newshub at the time.