Fmr Newshub journalist whose reports helped free Alan Hall calls for Royal Commission of Inquiry into handling of case

The former Newshub journalist whose reports helped free Alan Hall from jail is calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the handling of the case.

Mike Wesley-Smith's reports in 2018 and 2020 were ignored at first before the Supreme Court overturned Hall's conviction last year.

Hall was convicted of murder in 1985 and spent more than 19 years in prison but a report for the Solicitor-General says even though Crown lawyers knew there was evidence of wrongful conviction, they did nothing.

Hall and his family are angry justice still hasn't been fully served after another inconclusive report into his wrongful conviction for murder.

"A little bit miffed. Things happened to Alan and we wanted answers to why that happened and it didn't really give those answers," said Alan's brother Geoff Hall. 

The Solicitor-General asked Wellington lawyer Nicolette Levy KC to investigate Crown Law's response to the case. She found that Crown Law only looked at new material in a cursory way.

But she said Crown Lawyers are not required to "investigate alleged miscarriages of justice brought to their attention by the media or members of the public". 

Levy's referring to evidence brought forward by former Newshub reporter Wesley-Smith, four years before Alan Hall was eventually freed.

"It was given the once-over lightly and it was treated as a media enquiry rather than the provision of some pretty important evidence," said investigator Tim McKinnel. 

Levy's heavily-redacted report clears Crown Law of any wrongdoing. 

"There are a series of explanations for doing nothing and ultimately the Levy report accepts those explanations. The family doesn't," said McKinnel. 

The Supreme Court last year concluded Hall's trial was profoundly unfair and constituted a miscarriage of justice. 

"They had a close enough look at it to call it untidy, they got an opinion from the police about it and the police were calling it ugly and despite that nothing was done," said McKinnel. 

For example, one witness had described a very different killer as tall and sturdy, strong like a bull and six-foot-tall Māori male. 

"Alan is none of those things, never was," McKinnel told Newshub.

Former Newshub journalist Wesley-Smith found in 2018 that crucial witness evidence had been deliberately altered and withheld by police during Hall's trial and appeal.

Wesley-Smith's evidence alone was enough to convince the Supreme Court of his innocence but that process took four years.

"When something goes seriously awry like that, usually the response is to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry and I think that's what's needed here," said Wesley-Smith. 

"It would have been nice to see Crown Law's report come out with more detail on why Alan had to spend another four years in jail," said Geoff. 

Hall, who's autistic, got out of prison last year and he's still waiting to hear about compensation.

"I would use the compensation money to take out a private prosecution against these officers," said Alan. 

Wesley-Smith says if new evidence of innocence turns up in future cases it should be the job of Crown Law, not the defendant to pursue the case.