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Acquittal following Perversion of Justice


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement
26 September 2000

Acquittal following Perversion of the Course of Justice


Justice Minister Phil Goff has welcomed the release today of the Law Commission's Preliminary Paper on acquittal following perversion of the course of justice.

The Law Commission's paper is a response to the case of gang member, Kevin Moore, being unable to be retried for murder after his acquittal on his first trial because of false evidence by a witness.

"The Law Commission will report finally to Government after hearing submissions and I would not wish to preempt its process.

"My own preliminary view, however, is to support one of its initial preferences, the creation of a principled exception to the double jeopardy rule which does not allow a person to face trial again on the same charge having once been acquitted.

"The double jeopardy rule is a long standing aspect of our law, designed to prevent unwarranted harassment of an accused by repeated prosecution for the same matter.

"However, if an offender is able, as Moore did, to benefit from his own abuse of the criminal justice system, public confidence in the administration of justice will be undermined.

"Moore should have got at least 10 years for murder. As a result of the witness perjury, he may serve as little as two years and four months for the lesser charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

"He has literally gotten away with murder.

"An accused should reasonably expect to be prosecuted only once for an offence unless he has deliberately perverted the first process.

"The United Kingdom has recognised the problem posed by acquittal after perjury by passing the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act in 1996. This allows retrial of a person for an offence if acquittal on an earlier charge was "tainted".

"My preference would be to follow this course. But, I will await the final report of the Law Commission before making any decision to submit to Cabinet a proposal for a law change", Mr Goff said.

ENDS:

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