Late last week, Dr Simon Foote QC and Aidan Cameron came to the assistance, pro bono, of Moyra Speir, a woman from Palmerston North denied an exemption to travel to Auckland to help care for her terminally ill nephew on the basis she was not "immediate family".
Ms Speir's only family was her nephew and his father. She was double vaccinated and tested negative for Covid. Simon and Aidan challenged the legality of the denial on the basis that the Director-General's discretion to grant exemptions could not be fettered by a definition of "family" which did not appear in the legislation.
They were also able to point to inconsistent exercise of the discretion – one of Ms Speir's nephew's maternal uncles had been allowed to travel from a level 2 area to visit him four weeks ago. The Ministry of Health changed course and granted the exemption within 24 hours of receipt of a letter from Simon. Simon points out that, "In a community where access to justice is a pressing issue, government officials must take care to ensure natural justice at decision making levels."
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Dr Shane Reti, who had been campaigning for Ms Speir for a number of weeks, spoke about the case on Radio New Zealand this morning. Click for the link.