Covid 19 coronavirus Delta variant: Couple accused of Wānaka lockdown escape hire QC

A man who sparked outrage after he was accused of using an essential worker exemption to leave Auckland before flying to a family holiday home in Wānaka is the son of a high-ranking official.

The 35-year-old and his partner have not yet appeared in court on the charges.

They have hired Rachael Reed, a former president of the Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association who was appointed to the rank of Queen’s Counsel four years ago, to represent them. Reed is seeking suppression of details about her clients.

Her clients have declined to comment on the matter, she said.

Police said at the weekend the pair will be prosecuted for breaching the current Health Order, “by failing to return to their place of residence within the alert level 4 area after leaving for approved essential personal movement”.

The pair, who are accused of having flown from Hamilton to Wānaka, have not yet appeared in court but are expected to be summonsed this week.

They left Auckland on Friday and were located in Wānaka on Saturday afternoon, police said.

“This calculated and deliberate flouting of the alert level 4 restrictions is completely unacceptable and will be extremely upsetting to all those who are working hard and making great sacrifices in order to stamp out Covid in our community,” police said in a media statement on Sunday.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult has spoken out about the allegations, calling the couple “unbelievably selfish”.

“These people are endangering not only the health of folk in this part of the world but also their livelihoods, as things are tough enough down here at the moment,” Boult said.

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