The public's confidence in the judicial system is at stake in
the David Bain compensation case, says Justice Minister
"It is not only a serious matter for Mr Bain; it is actually
a serious matter for the public and for our confidence in our
Yesterday, she was forced to release reports on Mr Bain's
claim for compensation, after a backlash for her criticising
the author, retired Canadian judge Ian Binnie, while keeping
She redoubled her criticism of him, saying he went beyond his
mandate and made extensive, serious errors.
Justice Binnie points a highly critical finger at the
investigation into the 1994 murders of five members of Mr
Bain's family, and recommended compensation for him because
of its "extraordinary circumstance".
That blatantly breached his terms of reference set by former
Justice Minister Simon Power, who explicitly told him that he
did not want an opinion on whether Mr Bain qualified for
compensation and said the issue of "extraordinary
circumstances" was a matter for the Cabinet.
Justice Binnie's criticism of the police is singled out in
the peer review of his report by former High Court judge
Robert Fisher, QC.
Dr Fisher said the purpose of the Cabinet granting an ex
gratia payment for wrong imprisonment "is to compensate the
innocent, not to root out official misconduct".
"Condemning official misconduct should be reserved for those
cases that are so bad they threaten the integrity of the
judicial system. Planting evidence is a classic example;
overlooking a possible line of investigation is not," Dr
Mr Bain's legal team is livid that it was shut out of the
review of Justice Binnie's report. "It is grossly unfair and
grossly disturbing," Michael Reed QC said last night.
Dr Fisher's report contained factual errors, he said, and he
described a four-page email Justice Binnie sent to Ms Collins
yesterday on the Fisher review as "magnificent".
In the email, Justice Binnie accuses Dr Fisher of having a
"lack of familiarity" with the evidentiary record.
Mr Bain's long-time supporter Joe Karam said it was too soon
to offer detailed comment on the package of reports Ms
Collins released yesterday. "It is voluminous. Nine PDFs,
nearly 2000 pages. We're trying to read our way through it."
Ms Collins indicated yesterday that another review would be
required and that it could be Dr Fisher who undertakes it.
He would be an unpopular choice for the Bain camp, which
explicitly sought an overseas candidate to conduct the
Ms Collins will take recommendations to the Cabinet next year
on what the next step should be.
Ms Collins told reporters yesterday the Binnie report was
- Audrey Young, New Zealand Herald