Otago Daily Times
June 11 2003

Petition dismissal result of 'bad advice'
by Catherine Pattison and NZPA

Justice Minister Phil Goff's dismissal of a petition asking for the Peter Ellis case to be reconsidered is the result of bad advice, says Dunedin writer Lynley Hood.

Ms Hood, author of A City Possessed, based on the Christchurch City Creche child abuse case, was responding to Mr Goff's statement yesterday that no new evidence had emerged to warrant a review of Mr Ellis' case.

Mr Ellis was freed in 2000 after serving a seven-year sentence and has always maintained his innocence on 16 counts of sexual abuse of pre-schoolers.

Ms Hood's book saw National MPs Don Brash and Katherine Rich start a petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the case.

Prominent members of Parliament, the media, legal profession and academia have signed the petition.

But Mr Goff said he was not persuaded there was good reason for an inquiry.

"Before I can refer any matter back to the court, there has to be new evidence not yet considered by the judicial system."

However, Ms Hood said Mr Goff was receiving bad advice from the Ministry of Justice, because new evidence was not necessary for a commission of inquiry.

"There is a raft of law professionals who signed the petition who are saying there is widespread perception that the justice system has failed, and failed catastrophically, at many levels."

Mr Goff was responsible for the justice system and it was his right and duty to step in and repair the damage, she said.

Mr Goff reiterated Mr Ellis was found guilty by a unanimous jury and had been twice to the Court of Appeal, where seven judges said there was no miscarriage of justice.

The petition, which aims to gather 100 signatures from high-profile people, will be presented to Parliament in the last week of June, Ms Hood said.