National's justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell has doubled down on Iain Lees-Galloway after his U-turn on granting Karel Sroubek residency.
On Wednesday, Mr Lees-Galloway announced that Sroubek would be liable for deportation after previously allowing the convicted drug smuggler to stay in New Zealand.
“There is no way, on any level, that this decision ever stacked up,” Mr Mitchell told RadioLIVE.
Mr Mitchell, who has been critical of the decision since it was announced in October, says the reversal of Sroubek’s residency was “inevitable” given the evidence.
“It was clearly a case that [Sroubek] needed to be deported.”
The Immigration Minister told the press that the U-turn boiled down to details of convictions Sroubek received in the Czech Republic - which weren't considered when he made the earlier call.
"I didn't look at that and say 'aha, he should be an excluded person'," Mr Lees-Galloway told reporters on Wednesday. "That wasn't something I was considering at the time."
Originally from the Czech Republic, Sroubek fled to New Zealand in 2003 on a false passport.
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In 2015, he was convicted of importing MDMA and jailed for almost six years. In 2009 he returned to the Czech Republic, despite implying there was a danger to his life in his home country.
Mr Mitchell says the decision to grant Sroubek residency shouldn’t have happened in the first place, let alone to be reversed an entire month later.
“No Kiwi that [Sroubek] went in front of seemed to believe his story at all. The only one who seemed to accept his story was the Minister himself.”
The Immigration Minister has apologised to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the handling of the matter but hasn't offered his resignation.
Mr Mitchell told RadioLIVE that if John Key was still Prime Minister, Mr Lees-Galloway would already be long gone.
“For some reason… the Prime Minster has decided to protect him and keep him on.”
Sroubek plans to appeal the U-turn, still claiming his life would be in danger if he was deported home.
Listen to the full interview with Mark Mitchell above.
The Long Lunch with Lynda Hallinan, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.