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Ellis Inquiry Legal Representation

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

5 May, 2000


Minister of Justice Phil Goff announced today that he has appointed Ms Kristy McDonald QC to assist the parents of the children who gave evidence at the Christchurch civic crèche case to make submissions to the current inquiry into the case.

In March this year the Minister appointed Sir Thomas Eichelbaum to inquire into certain matters which might be relevant to the assessment of the reliability of the evidence given by children who attended the Christchurch civic crèche, and to report on whether there are any matters which might give rise to doubts about the assessment of the children's evidence which would render Peter Ellis' convictions unsafe.

Sir Thomas is due to report by 31 August 2000.

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry include a requirement for Sir Thomas to invite and consider submissions from the families of children who gave evidence at Mr Ellis' trial.

"I am sympathetic to the concern of these families that they have appropriate legal assistance when making their submissions" Mr Goff said.

"The Ministerial Inquiry is not a judicial proceeding and does not require legal representation in the way that a court case would. However, legal assistance will help to ensure that the submissions received by Sir Thomas are tightly focussed and express the families' concerns in a manner consistent with the terms of reference of the Inquiry.

"Christchurch lawyer Mr Jonathan Eaton has met with the parents to obtain their suggestions on appropriate counsel to assist them with the inquiry.

"I have appointed Ms McDonald QC having regard to the views expressed at those meetings. I have also asked Mr Eaton to continue in a facilitation role because of the number of families involved, and the need for a lawyer to be available locally to facilitate the communications between the families and Ms McDonald.

"It is also important that fairness and balance be in the Inquiry process. To this end, I have offered the same amount of assistance with legal expenses to counsel for Mr Ellis," Mr Goff said.

The legal assistance to each party will be capped at a maximum of $20,000.


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