Otago Daily Times
March 24, 2001

Excerpt from report by Karen Howard

As governor-general, Sir Michael has had the unenviable task of considering applications from convicted criminals seeking royal pardons.

Cases which have come before him include those of convicted paedophile Peter Ellis and David Bain, convicted of murdering his family.

What most people don't understand is that decisions about such applications are effectively made by cabinet, he says.

"All the applications go to the minister of justice who sets a team of lawyers and investigators to look into them and write a report. It comes to me with a recommendation.

"Now and again I've said, `Look, I'd like to know a little bit more about this and what about so and so'."

In every case Sir Michael was happy with the form that it came back to him in and says he hasn't differed from the conclusion.

Sir Michael believes publicity is causing more and more people to test their verdicts.

"People in jail are learning, `Oh we can do this - it might be worth trying'."

But he maintains the system works well.

Another case which came before the Governor-General in 1996 was that of convicted rapist David Dougherty whose case was referred back to the appeal court for a retrial, resulting in his acquittal.

"That showed the system . . . is open to people to show they've had an injustice done."