June 25 2003
Ellis supporters need new evidence says Goff
by Kevin Taylor
A petition signed by prominent politicians, academics, lawyers and a retired judge, seeking a royal commission into the Peter Ellis case, has failed to sway Justice Minister Phil Goff.
The 807-signature petition was presented to Parliament yesterday, but Mr Goff had earlier dismissed the call for a royal commission into the conviction of the former Christchurch Civic Creche worker on child abuse charges.
"Judicial decisions are made by people with the skill and experience to do so," Mr Goff said.
"They are not made by politicians, they are not made by authors, nor are they made by notable people."
Ellis was sentenced to 10 years' jail in 1993 and was freed in 2000. He has always maintained his innocence.
Hood also appealed for Mr Goff to listen to the call for a royal commission.
She said an inquiry could be ordered tomorrow. New evidence was not required, nor was the permission of the judiciary.
"He claims to have an open mind but, you know, I sometimes wonder whether it's so open that his brains have fallen out."
Dr Brash said a wider petition was being launched. It, too, would be presented to Parliament.
He said he and Ms Rich started the petition with Hood after reading her book.
"We had become convinced that on the balance of probabilities a serious injustice had been done," Dr Brash said.
The signatories include former prime ministers David Lange and Mike Moore, and retired High Court judge Laurence Greig.
The list also includes four former Cabinet ministers, 26 MPs including at least one from each of the seven parties, nine Queen's Counsel and nine law professors.
Ellis was not at yesterday's presentation but he urged through his lawyer, Judith Ablett Kerr QC, that Mr Goff hear the petition's plea.
"I do not see how Mr Goff can reasonably ignore the fact that concern about my case is widespread and that that concern is being voiced by people whose views he would usually give a lot of weight to," Mr Ellis said. "I ask him to think again."
Mr Goff said the petition would be considered in the normal way by the parliamentary process.
"But my view at this stage is that to overturn a judicial decision - reaffirmed on a number of occasions - requires new evidence and that's what we'd want to see presented."
He said the decisions to date on the case were taken by sitting and qualified judicial figures. Steps taken had included two hearings in the Court of Appeal, and a ministerial inquiry headed by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum.
Hood said Sir Thomas's report on the case in 2000 was "irredeemably flawed".
Prominent New Zealanders who have signed the petition
National MP Don Brash said the Ellis petition organisers decided to release the names of 140 "prominent New Zealanders" who were among the 807 who signed the petition. They are:
1. Associate Professor James Allan, specialist in constitutional law and the philosophy of law at the
2. Dr Jock Allison, agricultural consultant, former director of AgResearch.
3. Dr Tony Baird, obstetrics and gynaecology specialist, chairman of the NZ Medical Association ethics committee.
4. Erin Baker, local body politician, winner of eight world triathlon titles.
5. Murray Ball, Gisborne cartoonist, Footrot Flats creator.
6. Dr George Barton, QC,
7. Judith Bassett, local body politician and senior lecturer in history at the
8. Dr Michael Bassett, historian, member of the Waitangi Tribunal and former Labour Cabinet minister.
10. Georgina Beyer, Labour MP and former Mayor of Carterton.
11. John Blumsky, Christchurch-based broadcaster.
12. Sue Bradford, Green MP.
13. Dr Don Brash, National MP and former Reserve Bank Governor.
14. Professor Brian Brooks, specialist in employment, gaming and welfare law, and ethics and the law, at
15. Professor John Burrows,
16. David Caygill, lawyer and former Labour Cabinet minister.
17. Suzanne Chetwin, editor of the Sunday Star-Times.
18. Donna Chisholm, assistant editor of the Sunday Star-Times.
19. David Cohen,
20. Judith Collins, National MP, lawyer and former chairwoman of the Casino Control Authority.
21. Barry Colman, publisher of the National Business Review.
22. Emeritus Professor Brian Coote (
23. Professor Michael Corballis, director of the Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the
24. Dave Cull,
25. Lindsey Dawson, founding editor of Next, More and Grace.
26. Michael Deaker, education and communications worker and formerly
27. Rod Donald, Green Party co-leader and former Christchurch Civic Creche parent.
28. Ken Douglas, ONZ, former secretary of the Federation of Labour and former president of the Council of Trade Unions.
29. Carroll Du Chateau, editor of the Weekend Herald canvas magazine.
30. Marilyn Duckworth,
31. John Dunne,
32. Peter Dunne, United Future Party leader.
33. Associate Professor Denis Dutton, specialist in aesthetics and the philosophy of art at the
34. Gerard Eckhoff, Act MP.
35. Dr Rod Ellis-Pegler,
36. Sir Peter Elworthy, former president of Federated Farmers.
37. Ian Ewen-Street, Green MP.
38. Dr Ross Fairgray, a retired medical superintendent-in-chief of the Canterbury Area Health Board.
39. Stephen Ferguson, Christchurch Prison chaplain.
40. Chris Finlayson,
41. Antonia Fisher,
42. Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party co-leader.
43. Emeritus Professor James Flynn (
44. Stephen Franks, Act MP and lawyer.
45. George Gair, former National Party Cabinet minister, High Commissioner to
46. Dr Maryanne Garry,
47. Maurice Gee, novelist.
48. Jenny Gibbs,
49. Professor Grant Gillett, neurosurgeon and medical ethicist at the
50. Allyson Gofton,
51. Jacqueline Grant (Hokitika) is popularly known as the Tranny Granny.
52. Justice Laurence Greig, retired High Court judge.
54. Richard Griffin, former Radio New
55. Bill Gudgeon, NZ First MP.
56. Frank Haden,
58. Bob Harvey, Waitakere City Mayor and former president of the Labour Party.
59. Cynthia Hawes,
60. Peter Hawes, writer.
61. Professor Harlene Hayne,
62. Professor Mark Henaghan, specialist in family and criminal law at the
63. Rodney Hide, Act MP.
64. Professor Michael Hill,
65. Dr John Hinchcliff, vice-chancellor of the Auckland University of Technology.
66. Associate Professor Bill Hodge,
67. Emeritus Professor Les Holborow, former vice-chancellor of
68. Lynley Hood, author of A City Possessed: the Christchurch Civic Creche Case.
69. Elric Hooper, former artistic director of the Court Theatre,
70. Keri Hulme, novelist.
71. Vicki Hyde, writer and editor and chair of the NZ Skeptics.
72. Associate Professor Witi Ihimaera (
73. Professor Kerr Inkson, professor of marketing at the
74. Professor Peter Innes, dean of dentistry at the
75. Murray Jamieson, partner of Civic Creche worker Gaye Davidson.
76. Sir Ross Jansen, company director and former chairman of the Waikato Regional Council and the Local Government Commission and Mayor of
77. Associate Professor Alison Jones, specialist in feminist theory and gender at the
78. Sir Robert Jones,
79. Catherine Judd, president of Act NZ.
81. Dr Michael King, historian and biographer.
82. Nettie Kinmont, producer of the TV programme Queer Nation.
83. David Lange, ONZ, former Prime Minister and lawyer.
84. Robyn Langwell, editor of North & South magazine.
85. Barbara Larson,
86. Sir Graham Latimer, director, former president of the Maori Council.
87. Keith Locke, Green MP.
88. Finlay Macdonald, editor of the New Zealand Listener.
89. Gordon McLauchlan,
90. Owen McShane, consultant, National Business Review columnist.
91. Ron Mark, NZ First MP.
92. Judith Medlicott, lawyer, former Mastermind and former chancellor of the
93. Mike Moore, ONZ, former Prime Minister and former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
94. Margaret Murray-Benge, former
95. Dr Muriel Newman, Act MP.
96. Associate Professor Greg Newbold,
97. Professor Vincent O'Sullivan, DCNZM (
98. Pita Paraone, NZ First MP.
99. David Parker, Labour MP.
100. Lindsay Perigo,
101. Edwin Perry, NZ First MP.
102. Jim Peters, NZ First MP.
103. Winston Peters, NZ First leader.
104. Sean Plunket,
105. Professor John Prebble,
106. Renee, feminist dramatist and fiction writer.
107. Katherine Rich, National MP.
108. Bernard Robertson, editor of the New Zealand Law Journal.
109. Geoff Robinson,
110. Matt Robson, Progressive Coalition MP.
111. Stan Rodger, former Labour Cabinet minister.
112. Warwick Roger, founding editor of Metro magazine.
114. Bryan Rowe,
115. Heather Roy, Act MP.
116. Martyn Sanderson, actor, writer, director and Downstage Theatre founder.
117. Sir John Scott, professor emeritus of medicine at the
118. Ken Shirley, Act Party deputy leader.
119. Clem Simich, National MP and former Minister of Police.
120. Tony Simpson, social historian and former PSA president.
121. Leighton Smith,
122. Dr Donald Stevens, QC,
123. Barbara Stewart, NZ First MP.
124. Professor Ken Strongman, specialist in the psychology of emotions at the
125. Grahame Sydney, Otago artist.
126. Emeritus Professor Tony Taylor (
127. Philip Temple, writer.
128. Rear Admiral Edward Thorne, CB, former Chief of Naval Staff.
129. Professor Stephen Todd,
130. Garrick Tremain, Queenstown painter and cartoonist.
131. Chris Trotter,
132. Brian Turner, 2003 Te Mata Estate NZ Poet Laureate.
133. Glenn Turner, cricket coach.
134. Sukhi Turner, DCNZM, Mayor of
135. Dr James Walshe,
136. Peter Wells,
137. Rev Dr David V. Williams, (
140. Philip Wrightson, retired