New judicial review authority mooted after Bain case

  • 27/06/2013

By 3 News online staff

Labour's justice spokesman Andrew Little has suggested creating an independent review authority which would look at complex cases like that of David Bain.

However, Associate Justice Minister Chester Burrows says the current appeal process is robust enough to deal with difficult cases.

"As far as a review authority goes, it's not something we're looking at. We've got a strong process for review through our court system and we're not looking to change that," Mr Burrows says.

Mr Little made the suggestion following new evidence brought to light by TV3's 3rd Degree last night.

Experts believe possible gunpowder residue on Robin Bain's thumb and forefinger suggests it was he who was responsible for the infamous 1994 mass murder of his wife and three children. 

Mr Little says the authority would be based on a system in Britain.

"Where there are difficult cases and there's a real risk a miscarriage of justice has been done, you can send it off to a commission."

The review authority would consist of judges, lawyers, police officers and scientists who would "piece together the facts" and would not be bound by the court's laws around evidence.

"They can get to the truth of the matter and come up with a just solution and that's what we should consider here," Mr Little says.

David Bain is currently fighting for compensation following 13 years behind bars for the murders.

He first applied for compensation in March 2010 after he was found not guilty in his 2009 retrial.

But in December 2010, then Justice Minister Simon Power rejected a compensation proposal by Mr Bain's legal team, saying Mr Bain's innocence would need to be proven before he could receive any money.

In November 2011, Mr Power announced the Government would pay retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie to assess Mr Bain's compensation claim.

"Justice Binnie's appointment is a significant step in attempting to resolve Mr Bain's claim for compensation and a step towards achieving finality in this case," Mr Power said at the time.

Justice Binnie came to New Zealand in July 2012, and was paid $400,000 for his work.

But in December 2012, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced that following a review of the report by Robert Fisher QC, Justice Binnie had made "fundamental errors of principal", and decided not to use it.

"It would be unacceptable for me and unfair for New Zealand generally and for Mr Bain, to take a recommendation to Cabinet for compensation based on a flawed report," Ms Collins said.

In January this year, Mr Bain's legal team announced they would be seeking a judicial review of how Ms Collins has handled his compensation bid and in April the High Court ruled the judicial review would go ahead in July.

While the judicial review is in process, the Government has said it will hold off its consideration of Mr Bain's compensation claim.

Meanwhile, in March a 3 News/Reid Research poll showed 57 percent of New Zealanders believed Mr Bain deserved compensation.

Mr Little says Ms Collins' handling of the case had cost the taxpayer a "hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, just because she's made a mistake. And we're all paying for it".

She had acted too fast and without proper consideration of the facts, he says.

"I think she's going to be on the wrong side of this."

3 News

source: newshub archive