Thursday 1st May 2014
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Maurice Williamson has resigned as minister of building, land information, customs and statistics after revelations he called a high-ranking police officer in connection with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu, who had been arrested on domestic violence charges.
Williamson had previously lobbied ministerial colleagues to grant citizenship to Liu, who was behind a $70 million development in Newmarket, Auckland, the Herald reported. Liu was also a donor to the National Party.
"Mr Williamson's decision to discuss the investigation with police was a significant error of judgement," Prime Minister John Key said in a statement. "The independence of police investigations is a fundamental part of our country's legal framework. Mr Williamson's actions have been very unwise as they have the potential to bring that independence into question."
Key has named Nick Smith as acting minister for building and construction, Nathan Guy for land information and Simon Bridges for customs and statistics. He intends to appoint a new minister outside the cabinet next week, he said.
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