Zaoui lawyer now working with Labour’s Cunliffe

A lawyer who once said a decision by David Cunliffe not to allow refugee Ahmed Zaoui’s family into New Zealand was “cruel and inhumane”, is now his deputy chief of staff.

Auckland lawyer Deborah Manning will be working for the Labour leader under recently appointed chief of staff Matt McCarten – a former Unite Union boss and Alliance president.

She replaces Karl Beckett, who moves to a new role.

Manning is perhaps most known for representing Algerian politician Zaoui, who was granted refugee status in 2003. He entered New Zealand illegally in 2002, then was jailed.

The following year in Algeria he was convicted in his absence of terrorism and sentenced to death. Zaoui was freed on bail in New Zealand in 2004 but it wasn’t until September 2007 that the SIS declared he was no longer a security threat. Later that year he was reunited with his family who moved to New Zealand from Malaysia.

Cunliffe, who was immigration minister, had not allowed Zaoui’s family to enter New Zealand until his immigration status had been decided. Manning called the decision “cruel and inhumane”.

She was at the Labour Party Conference last year and dismissed speculation she was considering a run for Parliament.

Former Labour MP Chris Carter had asked her to put her name up to contest his Te Atatu seat in the 2011 election, but she declined.

The seat is now held by Labour MP Phil Twyford.

Zaoui lawyer now working with Cunliffe