The Soap Box: Why did MFAT even get involved in rental case?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 19 April 2018, 5:35a.m.
Winston Peters is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Photo / Getty)
Winston Peters is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Photo / Getty)

There have been plenty of examples of diplomats in this country getting away with flagrantly ignoring laws that we all have to abide by.

The most recent one was the Malaysian diplomat who was allowed by Foreign Affairs to leave the country and was then brought back after his immunity was waived to face and be convicted of a sex charge.

But it would seem there's one rule for them and another one for us, they can generally break the law with impunity.

READ MORE: Landlord's anger as MFAT protects diplomat tenant owing $20k

The latest case involves the Deputy Chief of the European Union mission in Wellington, a woman by the name of Eva Tvarozkova, who took a three year lease on a luxury $1500 a week Wellington home, left after just eight months without notice but not before causing damage to the property, and an unpaid rent bill, leaving the owner Matt Ryan out of pocket.

Ryan rightly took a case to the Tenancy Tribunal and won a settlement against the diplomat who didn't even bother turning up for the hearing. So you'd think that's a fair outcome, that'd be the end of the matter - wrong!

Ms Tvarozkova's a cut above the rest of us. She carries a diplomatic passport which gives lie to the presumption that we're all equal before the law.

She's drawn the cloak of diplomacy around her, courtesy of our own Foreign Affairs Ministry who've gone into bat for her. They've sought a rehearing before the Tribunal and one has been set down for next month, even though it was lodged well outside the five days required in the Tenancies Act. In some cases the time limit requirement's waived by the Tribunal as it obviously was in this case.

Foreign Affairs is seeking for the original finding against the diplomat to be set aside, saying the proceedings against her should never have been brought and certainly no decision against her should have been made. She's immune from any civil proceedings in this country, they argued.

Understandably Matt Ryan's not a happy man. He feels his own country is acting against him and rightly says it sends a message to all landlords who have diplomats as tenants. He says he thought he was safe, he had a privileged tenant, backed by the diplomatic core - on that, he was certainly right, but for all the wrong reasons.

Ryan now says landlords should be very wary of taking on diplomats as tenants. He says they could be running a P house for example without fear of consequences.

Why Foreign Affairs got involved in this when the dispute had been through the system, when a decision had been made and when the person they now want immunity for didn't even bother to turn up, is beyond me.

Her immunity should have been waived, she should have been forced to face the consequences just like the rest of us.

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