Review prompted by concerns with Bain report

December 11, 2012

Justice Minister Judith Collins says concerns with the report into David Bain’s claim for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment by former Canadian judge, Justice Ian Binnie show peer review is needed.

“After reviewing the report prepared by Justice Binnie in September, I was concerned with some aspects of it. With the consent of the Attorney-General, I received advice from the Solicitor-General on the report. Following this advice, I decided the report should be peer reviewed. I commissioned Hon Robert Fisher, QC to do this.

“My concerns are broadly that the report appeared to contain assumptions based on incorrect facts, and showed a misunderstanding of New Zealand law. It lacked a robustness of reasoning used to justify its conclusions.

“This was not a decision I made lightly, but one that was absolutely necessary. Put simply, it would not be acceptable to make a recommendation to Cabinet based on a report that would not withstand the considerable scrutiny it would attract.

“I am very disappointed this peer review is needed – I think we would all agree that a timely conclusion to this matter would be best for everyone. But justice must be done – a robust and proper process is the only way to ensure a certain and final conclusion to Mr Bain’s claim.

“When the Secretary for Justice and I met with Justice Binnie in September, I made it clear to Justice Binnie there were concerns with the report he provided, and it would be peer reviewed.

“I also advised Justice Binnie the report must remain confidential and it would be premature to release it until after Cabinet had made a decision on Mr Bain’s claim.
“Since then, I have received from Justice Binnie, unsolicited, two further versions of his report.

“I will receive Mr Fisher’s peer review in the next day or so, which will be forwarded to Justice Binnie for his comment. When I hear back from Justice Binnie, I will take a recommendation to Cabinet on the next steps.

“Ultimately, this review will not have an impact on Mr Bain’s claim, apart from causing an unfortunate delay to the decision Cabinet will make,” Ms Collins said. . .

This is indeed unfortunate.

The retrial found Bain not guilty. That is not the same as saying he is innocent but it does mean the jury could not say, beyond reasonable doubt, he was the murderer.

The review is adding time and cost to an already lengthy and expensive process, but if there are concerns about the initial report, peer review is required.

Bain not eligible for compensation

June 6, 2009

David Bain isn’t eligible for compensation under current rules for the 13 years he spent in prison, Otago University Dean of Law Mark Henaghan says.

He said there were four requirements to satisfy for compensation:

The first was to be convicted of a crime, the second was to have it quashed in an appeal without an order of retrial, the third was to be alive and the fourth was to personally prove innocence.

Because the Privy Council “clearly ordered a retrial” when Mr Bain’s convictions were quashed, the Cabinet would need to reconsider the guidelines and the other two would still need to be satisfied.

If political pressure was strong enough, the Cabinet might change them, he said.

A not-guilty verdict counted for his acquittal but did not prove Mr Bain’s innocence, Prof Henaghan said.

Apropos the last point, the trial was held in Christchurch rather than Dunedin because of the difficulty of finding jurors who didn’t already have firm views on the case in the city where the murders took place.

We were in Dunedin yesterday where the case was the topic of conversations and we were with people from there last night. They all had very firm views and none of them agreed with the verdict.

But none of them was in court, heard all the evidence and had to make a decision beyond reasonable doubt.

And there views might not have been representative: an ODT poll asking opinions on the verdict has 50% of respondents agreeing with it, 30 disagreeing and 20% not sure.

Not guilty – what will it cost us?

June 5, 2009

David Bain has been found not guilty.

Wonder how much compensation he’ll be seeking?

Who dunnit? Who knows? Who Cares?

June 5, 2009

Justice matters.

There was a mistrial the first time David Bain was charged with the murder of his family.

The Privy Council which ruled that, didn’t rule on his guilt or innocence.

All of which makes a strong case for a retrial.

But without deliberately reading, watching or listening to any reports on the trial, I have learned far more than I wished to know about what appears to have been a very dysfunctional family; I’ve heard far too many people who can have no idea of what happened pontificating on the case; and I’ve seen far too many reporters breathlessly imparting not very much.

There is only one person alive who was in the house on the morning of the murders and he’s in the dock. The mind can do strange things so it’s possible he killed his family but believes he didn’t.

I don’t envy the jury their job and realise the importance of them doing it carefully and thoroughly, so that whatever the verdict, the case is closed.

I hope they do it quickly because if this was a soap opera I’d have changed the channel weeks ago.

But this isn’t a show, put on for our entertainment. These were real people who were killed, this is a real man who is charged with their murders and I don’t like the way it’s been turned into a circus.


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