The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

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NZ Government
October 14 2009; 15:40

No Commission of Inquiry into Peter Ellis case
Press Release;
Hon Simon Power, Minister of Justice

A request to hold a Commission of Inquiry into the Peter Ellis case has been declined, mainly because Peter Ellis has not exhausted all his appeal rights, Justice Minister Simon Power announced today.

"After a careful and comprehensive examination of the case, and consultation with my Cabinet colleagues, I have concluded that Mr Ellis’ outstanding right to seek leave to appeal to the Privy Council means the request for a Commission of Inquiry should be declined," Mr Power said.

Consideration of the Peter Ellis case was initiated by a request from Dr Don Brash, Katherine Rich and Dr Lynley Hood for a Commission of Inquiry to look into all aspects of the investigation and legal processes relating to the case.

They asked for the Commission of Inquiry to have the power to recommend a pardon for Mr Ellis if it found there had been a miscarriage of justice.

Mr Power today wrote to them to inform them of his decision.

"Mr Ellis’ outstanding appeal rights have a significant bearing on the suitability of an inquiry and its ability to achieve finality at this point in the case’s history," Mr Power said.

"The justice system, for good reason, is independent of the government. It simply would not be appropriate for the Executive to establish a Commission of Inquiry while Mr Ellis still has remaining appeal rights.

"Other reasons for declining the request include that the Commissions of Inquiry Act is not well designed for an inquiry into the safety of particular criminal convictions, and there is a question about whether it is legally possible to order an inquiry into such convictions under this Act."

Mr Ellis’ counsel, Judith Ablett-Kerr QC, has previously signalled an intention to file an application for special leave to appeal to the Privy Council but has not yet done so.

In 1993, Mr Ellis, a worker at the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre, was convicted of 16 counts of indecency in relation to seven children.

He was released from prison in 2000 after serving two-thirds of a 10 year sentence.

A timeline showing the subsequent legal consideration that has been given to the case and the advice received from the Ministry of Justice is available in the documents below.