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Who is Footing Inmate's Bill?

Who is Footing Inmate's Bill?

Monday 12 Aug 2002

ACT New Zealand Acting Leader Ken Shirley has sought an assurance from the Attorney General that a prison inmate's legal action against the Government is not being funded by the taxpayer.

"Convicted attempted murderer Ian Shaw has obtained the services of Peter McKenzie QC to sue the Attorney General because he was sentenced to ten days in solitary confinement for gross misconduct.

"I want an immediate assurance from Margaret Wilson that New Zealand taxpayers are not paying for the legal bill. I also want an assurance that the Government intends to stand by Hilda Billington, the justice of the peace who originally imposed the penalty.

"If justice and corrections officials lose all ability to punish inmates, then inmates run riot. It makes a mockery of the whole concept of incarceration.

"It is regrettable that Margaret Wilson as Attorney General created a very unfortunate precedent in 2001 by paying four Mangaroa Prison inmates substantial monetary compensation for being treated `harshly' by prison guards.

"It is understood that Nevara Raheke - a brutal convicted rapist - and John Gillies - who was in Mangaroa Prison for stabbing Constable Nigel Hendrikse in the neck with a screwdriver - were both paid approximately $90,000 compensation for having been left naked in an exercise yard overnight.

"It seems that under this Government, it is now open season on taxpayers, with prisoners suing Government at taxpayer expense every time they feel their civil rights have been breached. Meanwhile the victims of their heinous crimes get nothing.

"Taxpayers expect criminals to be punished in prison. Ian Shaw's legal action is an insult to our country's justice system, and I hope the Government has not been silly enough to pay for it to proceed," Mr Shirley said.


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