Bridges, Graham and Beaumont

Today’s three MPs in the Herald:

New MP Simon Bridges wants New Zealanders to reconsider the right to silence for those accused of serious and sexual crimes and to trust juries with more information.

Mr Bridges, a former Crown prosecutor in Tauranga for eight years, used his maiden speech to challenge parts of the legal system, saying the accused’s right not to face questioning in cases such as rape put victims who had to face often gruelling cross-examinations in an uneven position.

“Martin Luther King jnr once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. In many trials I have seen injustices – indeed manifest indignities – performed on the weakest in our society as court rules work against them … in short, juries need to be trusted with more information and victims of sex crimes treated more evenly when compared to the accused.”

Mr Bridges told the Herald the question of whether an accused should face questioning was particularly relevant for sexual crimes or crimes against children where the victims themselves faced often gruelling cross-examination.

“I’m a reasonably experienced rape trial lawyer and I can think of specific women cross-examined for days, while the accuseds just sat on their hands and didn’t give evidence. There have been acquittals where I am sure factually that the accused was guilty.”

The right to silence has long been considered fundamental to the criminal law ethos of”innocent until proven guilty”.

Mr Bridges said he believed the law should be”rebalanced”and he intended to work on the issue as an MP.

He said juries should also be trusted with more information, such as previous convictions, in some cases as the current laws could obstruct a fair verdict.

Not sure I agree with Simon, but he makes a strong case about the unfairness of victims being cross-examined for days on end, and the accussed not having to give evidence at all. I’m more sympathethic though to his thoughts on juries having more information.

Former diplomat and academic – most recently he lectured in international law at Canterbury and Victoria universities. Was involved in NZ establishing a nuclear-free zone, including fronting on it as a diplomat before the UN in Geneva and New York.

In his own words:
“We are drawing down on Earth’s natural resources, borrowing forward on the human heritage, irretrievably encroaching on our children’s right to inherit the Earth in a natural and sustainable state.”

It will be interesting to see what influence Kennedy has on the Greens foreign policy, as his views are presumably somewhat different from Keith Locke’s.

Says her late father Ron takes credit for teaching her how to speak out and fostered debate, but also sowed the seeds of feminism in her when he dismissed her wish to follow in his footsteps and become a mechanic as “unsuitable for a girl”. She was chairwoman of the Melville High School Student Council, worked as a cleaner and was in the Cleaners’ Union.

In her own words:
“In the course of the campaign I saw the huge number of people who work for community good in sports groups, marae, in youth groups, in community safety groups, in churches and in community development initiatives. They are ambitious people. It is important to reflect on the meaning of the word ‘ambition’ because recently it has been used by many only in the context of the individual. It is more than that. I consider myself ambitious and have always wanted to use my skills in roles that challenge me but my real ambition is in wanting to make a difference for others.”

Beaumont was reasonably well regarded as CTU Secretary but her loss of Maungakiekie to National means she is reliant on keeping a high list place.

Comments (18)

Login to comment or vote