Most Kiwis support paying compensation to David Bain,
according to a Herald-DigiPoll summer survey being released
But Justice Minister Judith Collins says many New Zealanders
would be upset at any taxpayer payment for the man once
convicted of murdering his family.
She dismissed the poll, saying it asked an invalid question.
The Herald-DigiPoll summer survey found 74% of those polled
believed Mr Bain should be compensated if the judge who
reviewed the case recommended that. (The survey was started
on December 7, before Justice Ian Binnie's recommendation of
compensation became public.)Only 20% said Mr Bain should not
get a payment under any circumstances.
The Labour Party is calling on the Cabinet to make a decision
on the issue when it meets next month.
Ms Collins says she expects any decision to upset voters.
''There is a lot of feeling either way on this. We have to
look past all that and come to the right decision,'' Ms
Collins said yesterday.
Mr Bain was convicted in 1995 of murdering his parents and
three siblings, then acquitted at a retrial in 2009.
He spent 13 years in jail between the trials, and applied for
compensation after his acquittal.
The poll of 500 people was done amid fallout from the review
by Justice Binnie. The retired Canadian Supreme Court judge
found Mr Bain ''factually innocent'', but Ms Collins
criticised him for over-stepping boundaries in recommending
The row flared midway through the survey period.
Ms Collins said the poll's question was invalid because
Justice Binnie was asked not to make a recommendation on
But she recognised there was a strong desire to have the
issue dealt with next year and planned to brief the Cabinet
on options on January 23.
She did not reveal what those options were.
Earlier suggestions included a new review or an inquiry by a
panel of judges.
Ms Collins said: ''Whatever decision is made, we can expect a
significant chunk of the population will not be happy ...''
She said options before the Cabinet include ''whether we get
a new report'' and, if so, who would do it.
''I don't feel it is my role to charge along with `this is
what I want to do'. This is a matter where I am happy to
outline what the options are.''
She said any compensation to Mr Bain would be paid at the
''David Bain doesn't have any entitlement to compensation.''
Long-time Bain supporter Joe Karam said the Government had
asked Justice Binnie to do a job.
''He did the job. His answer is clear and unequivocal. That
is why the poll is as it is - it can be the only right thing
for the Government to do,'' Mr Karam said.
Labour justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said the ''ad hoc''
process had become ''rotten''.
He said Cabinet had enough information to make a decision and
should not spend more money on further reports.
In his report, Justice Binnie criticised the investigation
into the 1994 murders.
''It is my opinion that the egregious errors of the Dunedin
police that led directly to the wrongful conviction make it
`in the interest of justice that compensation be paid'.''
In response, Police Commissioner Peter Marshall issued a
statement defending the police handling of the Bain case. Mr
Marshall said reviews of the 1994 investigation found it was
conducted in accordance with the standards of the day.
Which of these statements best fits your view about David
Bain being paid compensation?
• Cabinet should approve compensation if the assessing judge
recommended it 73.9%
• Cabinet should not give him compensation under any
• None of the above 2.3%
• Don't know/refused 3.9%
Source: The New Zealand Herald-DigiPoll survey of 500
people early this month, margin of error 4.4%