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Anderson Judgement Helps All Sportspeople

Anderson Judgement Helps All Sportspeople

Wednesday 22 Sep 2004

Stephen Franks - Press Releases - Other

Sportspeople throughout New Zealand should be relieved by the Court of Appeal judgement acquitting Astrid Anderson of criminal nuisance, ACT New Zealand Sports & Recreation Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"But more is needed to restore the willingness of organisers to volunteer," Mr Franks said.

"With the Anderson case hanging over them, every Kiwi kid who wanted someone to show them to be as self-reliant as their granddad was punished. Every parent - who hopes someone will run a Scout Troop, take their kids on a bush experience, lead a kayaking trip, or volunteer to coach a sport where someone could be hurt - was suffering from the Anderson judgement, whether they knew it or not

"No one excuses recklessness. Everyone feels for victims of un-intended harm, but law punishing inadvertent mistakes steals freedom from everyone. It steals freedom to invite someone to organise something, or to let us do something that could hurt.

"The judgement is straightforward. It restores commonsense to part of the criminal law that has recently joined forces with OSH to threaten our national character. The police should take this judgement as an instruction to stop pouring resources into hounding well-meaning organisers who make an unfortunate mistake. It says that criminal law should be reserved for recklessness in accidents like this, not mere oversight.

"Minister Trevor Mallard should now let the sporting world know how Labour will clear up the uncertainties left behind. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that Parliament's last attempt to patch up bad law in this area did not work. They say that resolving the uncertainty of whether recklessness is the same thing as section 150A's `major departure' from ordinary standards of care is `for another day'

"It's no good for Labour to say people only need to be careful. Ms Andersen was careful. The allegation was about an ambiguity in instructions she had not thought of. The first trial alone cost the defence more than $120,000, and her expert witnesses gave their time for nothing. How many volunteers will risk relying on Mr Mallard's assurances, and the possibility of going as far as the Court of Appeal, to be vindicated if they make an unanticipated mistake?

"It is time the Sport and Recreation Minister did something in this area for sports organisers - though it's harder than handing out money," Mr Franks said

ENDS

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