Otago Daily Times
March 14, 2001
Pardon denied but Ellis not defeated
by Sally Rae
" . . . It fails by a distinct margin. I have
not found anything like a borderline judgement" . . . Sir Thomas
The battle to clear convicted sex offender Peter Ellis' name is not over,
despite Minister of Justice Phil Goff's announcement yesterday he had advised
the Governor-General to decline Ellis' application for a pardon.
His decision followed a lengthy investigation by the former Chief Justice,
Sir Thomas Eichelbaum.
Yesterday, Dunedin QC Judith Ablett Kerr said options for her client included
taking the case to the Privy Council or the Court of Human Rights in New York. She called
for Mr Goff to acknowledge the terms of reference for Sir Thomas'
investigation were too narrow.
Two earlier appeals by Ellis to the Court of Appeal have also failed.
Mr Goff said the investigation was comprehensive and detailed and he was
confident it dealt with all of the issues that warranted further inquiry to
protect against the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.
Sir Thomas spent more than 400 hours studying the tapes, trial transcripts,
Court of Appeal decisions and other material relevant to Ellis' conviction,
Mr Goff said.
He was advised by two international experts on child abuse and child
testimony, Prof Graham Davies from Leicester
University in Britain and Dr Louise Sas from Canada.
Mr Goff said Prof Davies, Dr Sas and Sir Thomas all independently reached the
same conclusion - the interviewing of the children who gave evidence was
appropriate and the reliability of the evidence on which the convictions were
based was not undermined by contamination by others.
In his report, Sir Thomas said Ellis's team failed "by a distinct
margin" to convince him the convictions were unsafe.