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Euthanasia group slams police over sting

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/10/2016

There are serious legal and political questions to be answered after police admitted to using a breath-testing checkpoint to identify people attending a euthanasia meeting, assisted dying campaigners say.

Police on Wednesday admitted to running the operation outside an Exit International euthanasia meeting in Lower Hutt this month and a have referred the matter to the Independent Police Conduct Authority after complaints.

Following the checkpoint, police visited at least 10 attendees inquiring about the meeting and seized items from the homes of elderly women in Wellington and Nelson.

Voluntary Euthanasia Society president Maryan Street said the operation raised questions about political interference, with an inquiry into assisted dying currently before parliament.

It appeared the operation had come out of an inquiry originally conducted on behalf on a coroner looking into a suspected suicide, she said.

"It raises questions about unhealthy interference across jurisdictions," she said.

"Police have overstepped the line here and need to abandon the investigation immediately."

Ms Street questioned whether police had briefed the Solicitor General or asked Crown Law for advice before the operation.

Acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Paul Basham said police acknowledged the concerns regarding the checkpoint, but said it was carried out in good faith and for good reasons.

"Police have a responsibility to investigate any situation where we have reasonable grounds to suspect that persons are being assisted in the commission of suicide," he said.

Act Party leader David Seymour, who's assisted dying bill is being consulted on, called the operation "un-Kiwi" and said it was at best a misuse of police resources.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Judith Collins said it was an operational matter for police.

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