The Christchurch Civic Creche Case
Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker has rejected a call for a full royal commission of inquiry into the Peter Ellis Christchurch Civic Creche case.
Barker reveals this in a letter to Ellis case researcher Ross Francis.
“A [royal] commission cannot be convened to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual as its primary purpose,” Barker writes.
“If Mr Ellis wishes to pursue the question of whether a miscarriage of justice has occurred, the avenue of appeal to the Privy Council remains open.”
The royal commission request was made in January by Peter Ellis’s lawyer, Judith Ablett Kerr, QC, to new Justice Minister Annette King. It followed the publication of damning scientific research by Otago University professor of psychology Harlene Hayne that revealed serious flaws in the interviews of the Civic children (first reported by this blog).
King delegated the issue to Rick Barker, as she is also minister of police, with the police having been much criticised for their handling of the Civic affair.
Peter Ellis was convicted in 1993 of 16 charges of abusing pre-school children at the Civic Childcare Centre in central Christchurch. Despite the bizarre nature of the “evidence” in the case, the Court of Appeal twice disallowed his appeals and he served the full non-parole period of his 10-year sentence, being freed in 2000.
The same year, former Justice Minister Phil Goff appointed former chief justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum to inquire into the way the children were interviewed. His 2001 report found the interviews were conducted according to best practice and said Ellis had failed to prove his innocence.
Ross Francis, an independent Wellington researcher, wrote two articles scrutinising the Eichelbaum inquiry, published late last year in the New Zealand Law Journal. The articles revealed the inquiry was nobbled by two Justice Ministry officials who advised Eichelbaum.
Francis emailed Rick Barker in February asking about Ablett Kerr’s call for a proper royal commission, which would have much more extensive powers than the narrow ministerial inquiry Eichelbaum conducted.
In his reply, Barker repeats the Justice Ministry mantra that the Court of Appeal (twice) and the Eichelbaum inquiry have consistently concluded that Ellis’s convictions are safe.
He also cites the 2005 justice and law reform parliamentary select committee report that concluded a royal commission was unlikely to reach a better view of the facts of the case than happened at the 1993 trial.
“The select committee report noted that a royal commission of inquiry cannot exercise judicial functions, such as the determination of criminal responsibility,” Barker writes. “That is, a commission cannot be convened to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual as its primary purpose.
“The select committee report also raised concerns about the effect an inquiry could have on the child complainants and their families given the passage of time.
“Given the further passage of time, I consider that the select committee’s conclusions are even more relevant.”
Commenting that Ellis has the option of going to the Privy Council, Barker notes that Judith Ablett Kerr is currently preparing a petition seeking leave to appeal there.
Though New Zealand’s Supreme Court is now this country’s final court of appeal, cases heard in our courts before it was established can still be heard by the Privy Council in London if the Law Lords grant their permission.
Ross Francis has responded to Barker’s letter with a lengthy letter of rebuttal, asking the minister to look at the case with fresh eyes.
To add some comment to the above, which was written as fairly straight news, it is very obvious from reading Rick Barker’s letter to Ross Francis that Barker did not write it. It is straight from the same Justice Ministry folk who have fought successfully for 15 years now to ensure the Civic case is not reopened, despite almost everyone, including them, knowing it is a complete crock and the biggest miscarriage of justice since Thomas. It is a great pity that a cabinet minister has put his good name to such a palpable piece of piffle. The only saving grace for Rick Barker is that the same bureaucrats were able to work keener ministerial minds than his like puppets on their strings.
reply is likely written by the Ministry of Justice. It repeats spin already
regurgitated in hundreds of ministry form-letters to the public on the case
and seeks to misrepresent the spin as fact. Unfortunately this has been an
ongoing feature of the case since its very beginning.
Barker is obviously not aware of the research report by Ross Francis
published in the NZ Law Journal last year providing evidence of Ministry of
Justice officials nobbling the Eichelbaum Inquiry. Any credibility of that
inquiry is now lost.
Barker is obviously not aware of the research work carried out by Professor
Harlene Hayne (first reported on this blog) which demonstrated that the
evidence provided by the child complainants in the Ellis case is unsafe.
continues to rely on advice from the Ministry of Justice, he should be aware
that those officials are likely to be more interested in protecting the
reputation of their own department, than they are concerned about delivering
justice to Peter Ellis.
I hope that Rick Barker takes the time to read and fully understand the excellent and thorough letter of rebuttal that Ross Francis has sent to him (that you have provided a link for above). He would be well advised to get second and third opinions about the case from sources outside the Ministry of Justice.
Barker… would be well advised to get second and third opinions about the case
from sources outside the Ministry of Justice
Sir Thomas Thorp would be a good choice to start with.
that’s right, he’s already written one.
Maybe someone should leak it to Mr Barker. His officials certainly won’t want him to see it.
Government has tried to keep the Thorp report out of the public eye for a
long time. The report were obviously not to the liking of Ministry of Justice
officials or the then Minister of Justice Phil Goff. - Refer to report at:
Barker might also like to make inquiries of Sir Thomas Eichelbaum.
ministerial inquiry cost less than $150,000, or less than one-tenth of what
officials estimated at the time a commission of inquiry would cost. Rick
Barker claims that the latter would be unlikely to reach a better view of the
facts than was reached at Ellis’ trial.
scientist has provided some facts. These destroy the hysterical opinions
given, that convicted Peter Ellis.
Politicians - in this instance (but there are earlier examples of similarly dubious cozying up to established government departments)- have neither the guts nor the intelligence nor the willpower to urge judicial investigation into a- I think- miscarriage of justice-