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Peter Ellis – Dr Murder – Cocaine Bust – New Health Boards – Disasters – Americas Cup – GE Inquiry – Extradition Sought – Runway Driver – – Waitangi – Super – Editorial: Peter Ellis

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PETER ELLIS: Convicted child sex abuser Peter Ellis left jail yesterday after nearly seven years to news that the Government will hold an inquiry into his controversial case. In a sensational move, Justice Minister Phil Goff said an inquiry was needed to address problems in the evidence presented by children from the Christchurch Civic Creche.

DR MURDER: An Auckland GP worked alongside the man who became Britain's worst serial killer. Dr Keith MacLaverty got to know Dr Harold Shipman at a medical centre in Hyde, near Manchester, and was then his neighbour for another six years.

COCAINE BUST: Police yesterday swooped on a boat and visited properties around the country as they lifted the lid on an 18-month surveillance that helped to bust one of New Zealand's biggest drugs syndicates. Officers and customs agents had worked with their Australian colleagues to track two New Zealanders said to be at the heart of an international cocaine cartel.

COCAINE BUST: Two New Zealand yachties - one a self-styled knight with a penchant for designer drugs, the other a convicted drug importer - are the alleged Mr Bigs of an international cocaine cartel. Hamish Edmond Thompson, aged 46, and Sir Thomas Graham Fry, 47, have split their time between Australia and New Zealand for about 15 years.

NEW HEALTH BOARDS: Health boards to be established by the Government will have only limited autonomy, with constraints put on them to prevent some centres getting better healthcare than others. While the new boards will be able to assess the needs within their populations, they will be restricted by a national strategy and a funding regime designed to distribute money equitably.

DISASTERS: Shirley Mattingly studies the world's natural disasters so she can advise cities on how to prepare for them. But in 1994 she learned that you cannot be prepared enough when an earthquake struck her home city of Los Angeles, killing 56 people, injuring 8000 and making 25,000 homeless.

AMERICAS CUP: Steffi Graf broke the cardinal rule of the 17th man in the America's Cup - she spoke to the victorious AmericaOne crew during the race. As Paul Cayard rounded the final mark 7s ahead of Prada, one of the world's most famous tennis stars yelled, "C'mon guys - go, go, go!"

GE INQUIRY: The Greens received a smack on the hand from Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday, shortly before a meeting with her to sort out the party's relationship with the minority Government. The Greens had issued a press release suggesting that the Government might renege on its promise to set up a royal commission of inquiry into genetic engineering, and scale it down.

EXTRADITION SOUGHT: An Auckland businessman alleged to be part of an international heroin ring is wanted for drug offences in the United States and faces extradition. Hing Hung Wong, also known by eight other names, celebrated his 37th birthday in a court dock and jail cell yesterday after the police Asian crime unit arrested him last week.

RUNWAY DRIVER: The Japanese tourist who drove his car down Auckland Airport's runway will return there today - but this time to catch a plane. Makoto Takahashi, who forced a Qantas 767 carrying 218 passengers to abort its landing 50 seconds from touchdown, is returning to Japan for psychiatric treatment, after Judge John Adams declared yesterday that he was unfit to be prosecuted.

STEINLAGER.COM: Lion Breweries is taking on a Waikato farmer over his use of the company's Steinlager beer brand on an Internet Website. Wallace Waugh registered the site more than two years ago and complained yesterday that the company had threatened and pestered his family since.

WAITANGI: The Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, has confirmed he will visit Te Tii Marae at Waitangi for Waitangi Day commemorations, despite concerns over his safety. Sir Michael said yesterday that he had accepted an invitation from Ngapuhi tribal elders to visit the marae for treaty ceremonies. He will be received on the marae at 10.30 am on Saturday.

SUPER: The National Party wants a resumption of multiparty talks on superannuation policy, saying it is "open-minded" about solutions to make the state scheme sustainable. The party's MPs agreed yesterday to write to the Prime Minister and offer to join any talks.

EDITORIAL – PETER ELLIS: Some cases of criminal justice never come to a satisfactory conclusion. The case of Peter Ellis, released from prison yesterday after serving seven years for child abuse, promises to be one of those cases. Convicted on the evidence of children in his care at a Christchurch creche, Ellis has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence, even turning down earlier opportunities for parole that could have implied his acceptance of guilt. Many who have studied the case are just as convinced he was wrongly convicted, though they do not include judges of the Court of Appeal who have twice reviewed his trial and upheld the jury's verdict. The issue turns on evidence never put to the jury - stories told by children in taped interviews that went far beyond the bounds of possibility. It might have damaged the credibility of the children's usable testimony. That may not seem fair to the person accused but it seems to be the law. The Appeal Court could not interfere. It did, however, conclude there were issues in the use of children's testimony that ought to be examined by a commission of inquiry. There certainly are.

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