Former MP Peter Dunne calls for Stuart Nash to be stripped of all ministerial titles

Former MP Peter Dunne is calling for Stuart Nash to be stripped of all his ministerial titles after his resignation as Police Minister.

Nash, the MP for Napier, stood down from the police portfolio on Wednesday amid claims of interference, after revelations he called the country's top cop urging them to appeal a court decision. 

Dunne, a former Cabinet minister, told AM Early the fact Nash didn't hold the Police portfolio at the time he made the call to Commissioner Andrew Coster made the situation worse.

"I think he should've resigned altogether for this simple reason: the Cabinet manual makes it clear that you don't interfere with court decisions and the police have constabulary independence - he breached both those counts," Dunne told host Nicky Styris. 

"He wasn't Minister of Police at the time, he was holding other portfolios… so I just don't think it's good enough to say, 'Well, you'll stand down as Minister of Police' because the breach was as a minister and not as a specific portfolio minister and, therefore, he should go altogether."

Andrew Geddis, one of New Zealand's leading constitutional law experts, echoed those comments.

"I think he breached ministerial standards and... he doesn't seem to understand what those rules are or why they're there," said Geddis, a public law professor from the University of Otago.

"Frankly, I think he's also ruled himself as being suitable to be a minister. I think he probably should be gone from Cabinet altogether," Geddis told AM.

Dunne was also lukewarm about Prime Minister Chris Hipkins' handling of the wayward minister.

"The swiftness for which [Hipkins] moved gives him credit for being decisive and clear and bold and setting standards and all of that sort of thing, but the timidity of the judgment, really, and saying 'just give up the Police portfolio and carry on with other portfolios,' I think detracts from that," Dunne said. "I think a cleaner break would've been, as I said, to have dismissed him altogether and allowed the Government to move on."

Hipkins on Wednesday defended his decision not to strip Nash of all his portfolios.

He said in Parliament he believed removing Nash from the Police portfolio was a "proportionate response". 

But National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis asked Hipkins how he could have confidence in a minister who'd made "very grave errors of judgment". 

"As I indicated, I do believe that it was appropriate for there to be a consequence for Stuart Nash's error of judgment. There has been one - he is no longer the Minister of Police," Hipkins said.

"I'm confident that Stuart Nash won't make that similar error of judgment again in the future," the Prime Minister added.