Scott Watson's murder convictions referred to Court of Appeal

The Governor-General has referred Scott Watson's murder convictions to the Court of Appeal.

Watson was convicted of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in 1999 - their bodies have never been discovered.

The pair were last seen getting off a water taxi and onto a boat, which police would later say was Watson's home-built sloop, Blade.

Watson has always maintained his innocence. Police accused him of killing Smart and Hope on his yacht after a New Year's Eve party at Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds.

Now, Justice Minister Andrew Little has advised Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy to refer the convictions to the Court of Appeal for further consideration.

It comes after a former High Court Judge reviewed Watson's application for the royal prerogative of mercy.

"The Governor-General accepted my advice, and granted Mr Watson's application," Little said in a statement on Friday.

"As the matter will shortly come before the courts, I will not be making any further comment."

Initially, Watson's plea to the Court of Appeal in 2000 was unsuccessful, as was his bid for an appeal to the Privy Council.

Contact Newshub with your story tips: