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Case for establishing review commission?

Andrew Little 
Justice Spokesperson


Case for establishing review commission?

The latest revelations in the long-running Bain saga suggest it would be worth investigating setting up an agency - similar to the UK criminal cases review commission - to review difficult cases here, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

TV3’s 3rd Degree programme last night revealed there is evidence Robin Bain, the father of the convicted and later acquitted David Bain, may have loaded the magazine of the rifle used in the killing of five family members in 1995.

“The on-going controversy over the case - with two juries reaching two different verdicts, a so-called independent inquiry into compensation being overturned by the Minister of Justice and now apparently ‘new’ evidence that has, in fact, been around all the time  - calls into question the effectiveness of our judicial system.

“In fairness, there are many hundreds of criminal cases each year, some of which will be difficult cases teetering on the brink of genuine reasonable doubt, where the conclusion will be debateable.

“Where there is continuing doubt about a verdict even after the appeals process has been exhausted, and a real risk a miscarriage of justice has occurred, then there needs to be a truly independent process to assess all matters.

“A criminal cases review commission could be made up of investigators drawn from the judiciary, the police, scientists and other experts who could conduct a thorough re-examination and extended investigation if needed to deal with all alternative possibilities, not just those that fit neatly into the court rules of evidence.

“If a miscarriage of justice is found then the same independent process could be used to assess compensation. The process we use now is clearly open to political interference.

“The Bain case is not the only case where a miscarriage of justice has been a real risk; the Thomas case stands out as the leading example in the last 40 years, and there have also been the Tamihere and Watson cases.

“It’s easy to pick sides and respond to the emotional buttons that are pushed in these cases, whether by the police or by defendants, but the over-riding objective must be to maintain public confidence that justice is done in every case.”


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