Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister
Andrew Little, Minister of Justice
Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Dear Ms Ardern and Mr Little,
Your new government has taken some really positive steps in the justice arena after just a few short days in office.
Ms Ardern: On 26 October, 2017, in your first comments as Prime Minister, you said ‘I want the government … to bring kindness back’. In the Guardian newspaper read by millions around the world, you were quoted as promising to form an “active” government that would be “focused, empathetic and strong”.
Mr Little: On your first day on the job as the new Minister of Justice you announced that Teina Pora’s $2.5m compensation for wrongful imprisonment would be increased to allow for inflation. That was the decent thing to do.
In the past you also voiced support for David Bain’s compensation claim. On 27 June 2013, you were quoted as saying that Ms Collins’ handling of the case had cost the taxpayer a “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, just because she’s made a mistake. And we’re all paying for it”. You said she had acted too fast and without proper consideration of the facts, and that: “I think she’s going to be on the wrong side of this.” On 28 June you repeated your view that Justice Minister Judith Collins had “buggered it up”.
You also advocated for the establishment of an independent commission to review miscarriages of justice. On 27 October 2017, it was announced that such a body will be established under the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First. That’s good news – and long overdue.
But this is too late to help David Bain who, after 13 years in prison and another six years fighting for compensation, received $925,000 provided he agreed to cease all further legal action. The National Government stated that the payment was NOT compensation and Mr Bain would NOT receive an official apology. That was hardly a sympathetic response to Mr Bain’s drawn out legal battle for freedom and compensation.
Questions to Ms Ardern & Mr Little:
Given the compassionate response of the new government to Mr Teina Pora’s situation, will your government respond in a similarly empathic and active manner to Mr Bain. More specifically, is your new government willing to:
- Advise Mr Bain that the payment he received is, in fact, compensation for the 13 years he spent in prison?
- Increase the amount of compensation he received so it is in line with Cabinet guidelines of $100,000 per year spent in prison? This should take his payment from $925,000 to about $1.3 million.
- Adjust the $1.3 million for inflation in line with the courageous Teina Pora decision?
- Offer Mr Bain an official apology for the egregious mistakes made by the New Zealand police (as identified by Justice Ian Binnie and ignored by Justice Ian Callinan) which contributed to his imprisonment.
P.O. Box 29-075, Ngaio, Wellington