The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

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NZ Herald
December 16 2008

Ellis hopes Government will look with fresh eyes
by Jarrod Booker

Convicted child abuser Peter Ellis has high hopes that new Justice Minister Simon Power will agree to an inquiry into his case after stating he had an open mind on it.

But the figure at the centre of the Christchurch Civic Creche case is worried about the influence that long-serving justice officials will have on Mr Power.

A spokesman for Mr Power said the minister had received a letter requesting a commission of inquiry from former National MPs Don Brash and Katherine Rich, and author Lynley Hood, who wrote a book pointing out flaws in the police investigation and case.

Mr Ellis was convicted in 1993 of sexually molesting children at the Christchurch Civic Creche where he worked.

One of the seven pre-schoolers he was found guilty of abusing later retracted the allegations and three of Mr Ellis' convictions were quashed.

Previous ministers have knocked back calls for an inquiry, most recently former Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker, in May.

Mr Power's spokesman said the minister was approaching the issue with an open mind. He intended to seek a briefing from officials and then consider the letter.

Mr Ellis told the Herald: "I have high hopes that [Mr Power] will have the moral courage and political will to certainly listen to the advice of the [Justice] ministry, but to remember that if the ministry consists of the same career bureaucrats that have been in charge of [the case] for the last 17 years ... that they have a vested interest to leave it as the status quo."

Mr Ellis urged Mr Power to look at findings by Otago University academic Professor Harlene Hayne, who said there was a strong risk that the evidence of children who told of sexual abuse by Mr Ellis was contaminated by the way the interviews were done.

"There's a wealth of information out there. I'll be most disappointed if [Mr Power] comes back and says 'well, the advice from the ministry is that there's nothing wrong with it'."

Mr Ellis' lawyer, Judith Ablett Kerr, said it was a golden opportunity for a fresh Government that had previously supported an inquiry to show it meant what it said.