New Zealand's state broadcaster warned by police

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

TVNZ logo.

The New Zealand Police have issued a warning to state broadcaster TVNZ (Television New Zealand) for not telling them that they knew where a rapist on the run from police was. However, he did turn himself in after giving the interview.

John Clarke, the convicted rapist, was on the run from police after leaving his home while he was on home detention on Monday, and two probation officers were also present. Mr Clarke was labelled as a high risk offender.

One News, owned by TVNZ, were interviewing John Clarke yesterday, meanwhile a lot of time and effort from police was going into trying to hunt him down. After they have finished the interview, Mr Clarke handed himself in to the Greymouth police, which One News also recorded.

Cquote1.svg They were in a bit of a rush to get it on the 6 o'clock news. Cquote2.svg

—Sergeant David Cross, Greymouth police.

"He wandered in off the street with a TV film crew," said Greymouth Sergeant David Cross.

A spokeswoman for TVNZ, Megan Williams said that they would only agree to the interview with Mr Clarke if he handed himself into police after they had finished. She said that if he had not handed himself in, they would then have gone to the police.

The police say that they would have expected TVNZ to have called them " say 'look Gary, perhaps if you pull back some of your resources at 5 o'clock, this guy's going to give himself up'," said Sergeant Cross. Sergeant Alison Eleam, Christchurch's central area commander, says that she is not impressed with the way TVNZ acted. TVNZ say that they are now happy to talk to the police.

In November, 2006, Mr Clarke was released from prison and placed into home detention for kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl in 1997.