The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports

2001 Jan-June

NZ Herald
March 14 2001

Ellis faces new abuse complaint
by Francesca Mold and Alison Horwood

A fresh complaint has been laid against convicted sex abuser Peter Ellis by a Christchurch teenager, TV One News said last night.

Police last night refused to comment on allegations that a 17 to 18-year-old boy had made a "fresh disclosure" about actions dating back to the time the former Christchurch crèche worker was accused of interfering with children in his care.

Ellis was found guilty of 16 charges of sexual abuse in 1993 and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

TV One said last night that it understood the complaint had been referred to the Crown Law Office.

Christchurch police spokeswoman Maggie Leask refused to comment on any investigation.

The report said Ellis knew of the disclosure but would not comment.

But a spokeswoman for Ellis' lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, said neither she nor her client knew anything about the allegations and could not comment further.

The revelation came on the day Ellis learned his plea for a pardon had been turned down by the Governor-General.

Justice Minister Phil Goff said yesterday that a ministerial inquiry by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum had found Ellis' case failed by a "distinct margin" to prove his conviction was "unsafe."

Mr Goff said that the inquiry's conclusions were clear cut.

It found police and social workers had followed international best practice in handling the case and declared evidence given by the children involved to be reliable.

The decision is considered the end of the road for Ellis, who has been through a trial, two previous petitions for a pardon and two hearings before the Court of Appeal.

Mrs Ablett-Kerr said she still had the Privy Council and Court of Human Rights in New York as options for pursuing Ellis' case.

But Mr Goff said it would be very difficult for Ellis to take it further.

He said the inquiry, which cost $500,000, was comprehensive.

"Mr Ellis could apply to the Privy Council but that would need the approval of the Court of Appeal. I don't believe that would be a step he would take," he said.

Ellis spent 6 1/2 years in prison but has steadfastly maintained his innocence. He was released in February last year after refusing early parole because it would have required him to admit guilt.

A downcast Ellis yesterday vowed to fight on to clear his name.

"I am an innocent man and walking away from the Civic Crèche case because it is convenient leaves me still a guilty man. Justice is not about convenience, it is about looking at the whole picture and fairness."

He said his case had become a world phenomenon and deserved a wide-ranging inquiry such as in similar mass-abuse cases in Britain, Canada, America and Australia.

But Sir Thomas said it was time Ellis' case "be allowed to rest."

Mrs Ablett-Kerr said Sir Thomas' report was "disappointing."

She would ask Mr Goff to accept the inquiry was too narrow and to order a wider investigation.

Much of the latter part of her work for Ellis had been done without payment but "at the end of the day I don't suppose you walk away because there's not money in it."