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New Zealand appoints top ex-civil servant to head probe on Malaysia diplomat sex case

Published on Jul 11, 2014 11:55 AM

WELLINGTON - One of New Zealand's most respected former public servants will head a ministerial inquiry into why a Malaysian diplomat was allowed to leave New Zealand while facing an attempted-rape charge.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed that John Whitehead, Secretary to the Treasury from 2003 to 2011, will head the inquiry into how "ambiguity" was created about New Zealand's position on the fate of Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, Malaysia Chronicle reported on Friday.

"A thorough and transparent inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the Government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public," the news website quoted McCully as saying in a statement.

The inquiry would focus on "the appropriateness and robustness" of procedures to deal with circumstances in which a waiver of diplomatic immunity is sought by the Government, as well as the particular events in relation to the Malaysian diplomat, said the report.

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