Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison

Minister denies holding back information on Manus death

IMMIGRATION Minister Scott Morrison has denied holding back information about the death of an Iranian asylum seeker during a riot at Manus Island last week.

While Mr Morrison originally said the death of asylum seeker Razi Barati during the riot happened outside the centre, he clarified his comments in a media statement distributed late on Saturday night.

That statement said Mr Barati had actually died inside the detention centre, despite Mr Morrison's assurances last week that staff could ensure the safety of detainees if they remained inside.

The retraction of his original comments late on Saturday night sparked accusations from Labor of Mr Morrison having "no idea" what was going on in the centre, while The Greens called for his resignation.

But Mr Morrison on Sunday fronted reporters in Sydney to say ohe nly learnt the truth of the matter on Saturday, and spent the day clarifying the issue before he was satisfied he could release the information.

He said it was important to brief the media on the issue as soon as possible, hence the late-night distribution of the statement.

The retraction has lent credence to as-yet-unverified reports that much of the violence during the riot may have occurred inside the centre, and consequently, under the Australian Government's jurisdiction.

Despite the initial information given to him being found to be incorrect, Mr Morrison said he would not say who provided the information, only that reports were "rarely perfect" in the hours following such incidents.

He would also not speculate on what role Mr Barati's own actions may have been that could have contributed to his death, nor if security contractor G4S was involved or not.

Mr Morrison said such questions would be addressed by an independent review of the riot and its circumstances and a separate police investigation that was now underway.

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