The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

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NZ Herald
March 28 2008

Govt 'no' to inquiry plea appals Ellis
by Jarrod Booker

Peter Ellis has attacked the Government over its response to his latest bid for an inquiry into the Christchurch Civic Creche abuse case.

Ellis has slammed the "appalling" written reply from Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker, who rejected the call for a royal commission of inquiry into the infamous child abuse case in 1993, despite new information being presented.

Ellis served two-thirds of a 10-year jail sentence for molesting children at the creche.

His hopes to clear his name now rest with a costly bid to go to the Privy Council, and follow in the footsteps of David Bain, whose murder convictions were quashed.

Mr Barker said in a letter to a researcher working on the Ellis case that a commission could not be convened to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual as its primary purpose.

"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," Mr Barker wrote.

In a rare public outburst, Ellis told the Herald the letter from Mr Barker was something "a year one law student wouldn't manufacture ... let alone an MP".

"It is appalling. He is given new stuff to look at ... and he was asked new questions and his letter is actually just the same stuff all rehashed together.

"He's just trotted out the Justice Ministry's mantra. I believe he's just handed the [bid] off to a minion."

The latest bid for an inquiry was based on alleged flaws in Ellis's trial, the failure of the Appeal Court to address expert opinion evidence, and an academic's recent findings on the interviewing of children at the creche.

Ellis's lawyer, Judith Ablett Kerr, QC, was disappointed the inquiry bid had been "brushed aside in such a superficial way".

She doubted whether all of the information put forward had even been read by Mr Barker and his officials.

"Most New Zealanders aware of the case, including many well-informed members of society in positions of importance, have deep-seated concerns about the case."

Mrs Ablett Kerr, who has largely shouldered the heavy cost of the legal process for Ellis herself, said she hoped to get a petition to the Privy Council by May, and a hearing by the end of the year.

A spokesman for Mr Barker said the letter sent to the Ellis camp was private correspondence, but simply reflected the same position held since 2005.