The Herald
June 25 2003

Ellis supporters need new evidence says Goff
by Kevin Taylor
political reporter

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.

Dunedin writer Lynley Hood's award-winning book, A City Possessed, sparked the petition and she handed it to National MPs Don Brash and Katherine Rich yesterday on the steps of Parliament.

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
University of Otago.

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,
Wellington barrister.

7. Judith Bassett, local body politician and senior lecturer in history at the
University of Auckland.

8. Dr Michael Bassett, historian, member of the Waitangi Tribunal and former Labour Cabinet minister.

Mike Behrens, QC, Palmerston North barrister.

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
Victoria University.

15. Professor John Burrows,
Canterbury media law specialist.

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,
Wellington journalist.

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 (
University of Auckland), an expert on contract law.

23. Professor Michael Corballis, director of the Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the
University of Auckland.

24. Dave Cull,
Dunedin broadcaster and writer.

25. Lindsey Dawson, founding editor of Next, More and Grace.

26. Michael Deaker, education and communications worker and formerly
South Island operations manager for the Ministry of Education.

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,
Wellington novelist, poet and short-story writer.

31. John Dunne,
Christchurch broadcaster.

32. Peter Dunne, United Future Party leader.

33. Associate Professor Denis Dutton, specialist in aesthetics and the philosophy of art at the
University of Canterbury.

34. Gerard Eckhoff, Act MP.

35. Dr Rod Ellis-Pegler,
Auckland infectious diseases specialist.

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,
Wellington barrister and former chair of the arts board of Creative New Zealand.

41. Antonia Fisher,
Auckland barrister.

42. Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party co-leader.

43. Emeritus Professor James Flynn (
University of Otago), specialist in political and moral philosophy and psychology.

44. Stephen Franks, Act MP and lawyer.

45. George Gair, former National Party Cabinet minister, High Commissioner to
London and Mayor of North Shore.

46. Dr Maryanne Garry,
Victoria University psychologist who specialises in real-life memory distortions, especially as they apply in legal settings.

47. Maurice Gee, novelist.

48. Jenny Gibbs,
Auckland investor and patron of the arts.

49. Professor Grant Gillett, neurosurgeon and medical ethicist at the
University of Otago.

50. Allyson Gofton,
Auckland food writer.

51. Jacqueline Grant (Hokitika) is popularly known as the Tranny Granny.

52. Justice Laurence Greig, retired High Court judge.

Stuart Grieve, QC, Auckland barrister.

54. Richard Griffin, former Radio New
Zealand political editor and press secretary to Prime Minister Jim Bolger.

55. Bill Gudgeon, NZ First MP.

56. Frank Haden,
Wellington journalist.

Nigel Hampton, QC, Christchurch barrister.

58. Bob Harvey, Waitakere City Mayor and former president of the Labour Party.

59. Cynthia Hawes,
University of Canterbury law lecturer.

60. Peter Hawes, writer.

61. Professor Harlene Hayne,
University of Otago specialist in the development of learning and memory in infants and young children.

62. Professor Mark Henaghan, specialist in family and criminal law at the
University of Otago.

63. Rodney Hide, Act MP.

64. Professor Michael Hill,
Victoria University sociologist who studies the international spread of moral panics.

65. Dr John Hinchcliff, vice-chancellor of the Auckland University of Technology.

66. Associate Professor Bill Hodge,
University of Auckland law lecturer.

67. Emeritus Professor Les Holborow, former vice-chancellor of
Victoria University.

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 (
University of Auckland), fiction writer and librettist.

73. Professor Kerr Inkson, professor of marketing at the
Albany campus of Massey University.

74. Professor Peter Innes, dean of dentistry at the
University of Otago.

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
University of Auckland.

78. Sir Robert Jones,
Wellington property developer and writer.

79. Catherine Judd, president of Act NZ.

Gary Judd, QC, Auckland barrister.

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,
Dunedin book publisher.

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,
Auckland writer and broadcaster.

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
University of Otago.

93. Mike Moore, ONZ, former Prime Minister and former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

94. Margaret Murray-Benge, former
Christchurch City councillor.

95. Dr Muriel Newman, Act MP.

96. Associate Professor Greg Newbold,
University of Canterbury sociologist, specialist in issues of crime and justice.

97. Professor Vincent O'Sullivan, DCNZM (
Victoria University), novelist, poet and playwright.

98. Pita Paraone, NZ First MP.

99. David Parker, Labour MP.

100. Lindsay Perigo,
Wellington broadcaster.

101. Edwin Perry, NZ First MP.

102. Jim Peters, NZ First MP.

103. Winston Peters, NZ First leader.

104. Sean Plunket,
Wellington broadcaster.

105. Professor John Prebble,
Victoria University law lecturer.

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,
Wellington broadcaster.

110. Matt Robson, Progressive Coalition MP.

111. Stan Rodger, former Labour Cabinet minister.

112. Warwick Roger, founding editor of Metro magazine.

John Rowan, QC, Wanganui barrister.

114. Bryan Rowe,
Auckland private investigator and retired superintendent of police.

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
University of Auckland.

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,
Auckland broadcaster.

122. Dr Donald Stevens, QC,
Wellington barrister.

123. Barbara Stewart, NZ First MP.

124. Professor Ken Strongman, specialist in the psychology of emotions at the
University of Canterbury.

125. Grahame Sydney, Otago artist.

126. Emeritus Professor Tony Taylor (
Victoria University), stress and trauma consultant.

127. Philip Temple, writer.

128. Rear Admiral Edward Thorne, CB, former Chief of Naval Staff.

129. Professor Stephen Todd,
University of Canterbury law lecturer.

130. Garrick Tremain, Queenstown painter and cartoonist.

131. Chris Trotter,
Auckland journalist.

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,
Christchurch psychiatrist.

136. Peter Wells,
Auckland writer and film maker.

137. Rev Dr David V. Williams, (
University of Auckland associate professor, has degrees in law, history and theology.

Peter Williams, QC, Auckland barrister.

Colin Withnall, QC, Dunedin barrister.

140. Philip Wrightson, retired
Auckland neurosurgeon who helped exonerate some UK parents falsely accused of shaking their babies.