Will Ellis go to the Privy Council?

April 22nd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Convicted sex offender Peter Ellis will consider an appeal to the Privy Council to clear his name after a request for a Commission of Inquiry into his case was today rejected by the Justice Minister.

The former Christchurch childcare worker was convicted of child sex abuse in 1993, but has always maintained his innocence.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and since then his convictions have been the subject of extensive legal battles, including two appeals, an inquiry by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum and two overseas experts, and a 2003 petition to Parliament.

In 2008, a similar request for a Commission of Inquiry was rejected by former Justice Minister Simon Power.

Justice Minister Amy Adams today announced his latest bid for a Commission of Inquiry had been turned down on the basis that an inquiry could not be used to determine the liability of any person.

Mr Ellis’ lawyer Nigel Hampton QC, said his client would be “somewhat disappointed” by the decision.

“But it doesn’t shut all the avenues, he’s still got the ability to appeal to the Privy Council. And the other principal alternative is to again renew an application to the Governor-General for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, which would lead, if successful to a further hearing in the Court of Appeal,” Mr Hampton said.

“Those are the two avenues open to him still, and they are the ones that we will be discussing with him and deciding on in the next little while as to which avenue we’ll follow.”

I hope one day there is a proper inquiry into this case. Not just to consider issues of whether there was any abuse at all and the guilt or innocence of Ellis – but also to consider the massive flaws in the investigation – so it never happens again that way.

I recommend interested people read the book by Lynley Hood on this case. The way children were questioned in this case would never be allowed today, and the evidence presented to the court was was very misleading.

For example if a kid said they went down to a graveyard and they saw someone get resurrected and Peter also touched them, then all the court was told is the testimony that Peter touched them. It was removed from all the fantastical other testimony.

An independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case?

December 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dunedin author Lynley Hood and former National leader Don Brash have written to the new Justice Minister Amy Adams asking for an independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case.

Ellis was convicted on 13 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche.

His supporters have always argued he was convicted on unreliable evidence from children interviewed in a leading way by specialist interviewers.

“We ask you to commission an overseas judge to review the entire case. We believe this is the only realistic option left,” Hood and Brash say in the letter.

The letter says:

– Though more than 20 years have passed since the controversial conviction of Peter Ellis, disquiet over the Civic Creche case remains widespread and ongoing and extends to some of the most senior judges in the country.

– In the history of New Zealand criminal justice, no petition to Parliament has been supported by such a weight of political, legal and scholarly authority as the 2003 petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

I believe the Ellis convictions are very unsafe, and fully support an inquiry into the entire case.

Ellis seeks a pardon again

December 27th, 2010 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Convicted child abuser Peter Ellis is to lodge a fresh petition to the Governor-General seeking a full pardon.

Mr Ellis served almost seven years in prison after being found guilty of 16 charges of sexual abuse of children at a civic creche in Christchurch in the early 1990s.

Mr Ellis, 51, has always denied the allegations and has already had three petitions for a pardon and two appeals against his conviction turned down. An application for a Royal Commission of inquiry into his case was also rejected.

I was bitterly disappointed that the Government turned down a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Ellis case, as there were so many aspects of the case that needed a full investigation.

His lawyer Judith Ablett-Kerr QC said the new petition rested on fresh Otago University research indicating the questioning of the children was below a legally acceptable standard.

I’m not optimistic that the Government will act, but I hope they do. While opinion is divided on many other high profile cases, I know of very few people who think the Ellis convictions were safe – ie proven beyond reasonable doubt.

No Crewe inquiry

November 29th, 2010 at 6:52 am by David Farrar

James Ihaka at the Herald reports:

Justice Minister Simon Power has turned down calls for an independent inquiry into a 40-year-old murder mystery. …

William Rowe, a spokesman for Arthur Allan Thomas, the man wrongly accused of murdering Jeanette and Harvey Crewe, wrote to the minister’s office supporting calls for an independent inquiry.

In the email he wanted to know who, on the balance of probabilities, murdered the Crewes.

He also asked if there was evidence to bring charges against anyone involved in the investigation for the wrongful arrest and convictions of Mr Thomas based on the Thomas Royal Commission findings in 1980.

“I plead with you to do the right thing and order an inquiry,” said Mr Rowe in the email.

“Justice is the most important thing in the world and every New Zealander has the right to have faith in the system, because it belongs to them, not the police.”

In response, Mr Power said he understood the interest in seeking closure, but his hands were tied. …

“Neither I nor my ministerial colleagues can direct the police to reopen the case.”

If the request has been made 30 years ago, or even 20 years ago, then I’d say go for it. BuSt I can’t imagine in 2010, an inquiry could come to any useful conclusions. Finding out who, on the balance of probabilities, murdered the Crewes, would have been possible when key people were alive, but at least two of the suspects are dead.

So on this issue, I think the Minister has made the right decision, in fact almost the only decision possible.

The case that I do think should have had a full Commission of Inquiry is the Peter Ellis case.

Criticism of Ellis decision

October 15th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

The decision was surprising given that Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and Police Minister Judith Collins had signed a 2003 petition calling for a commission of inquiry, he said.

As did many professors of law.

Rich said the decision was “sadly predictable”.

“It’s interesting we’re spending millions on a Supreme Court building but still directing people to the Privy Council, which I doubt Peter Ellis will be able to access because of the expense,” she said.


“In the court of public opinion, Peter Ellis has already been pardoned.”

On most controversial cases, there are different views on guilt vs innocence. The Ellis case is remarkable in the huge number of people who view his convictions as unsafe. I don’t think I know anyone at all who thinks the convictions should stand.

The case was a fundamental demonstration of the justice system failing to correct itself, she said. “Every country has found a way to deal with those injustices.”

And this is where I think the Minister made the wrong decision.  Of course the officials were always going to have dozens of reasons to say don’t upset the status quo. But the reason we have a Minister in charge, not officials, is for the ability to look at the wider picture.

Brash said he was surprised at the decision because the request was presented with such strong arguments and the 2003 petition had been signed by major figures.

“The New Zealand justice system has let Peter Ellis down and it should have been New Zealand that sorted it out.”

Had he won the 2005 general election, a commission of inquiry would have been ordered, he said.

I really recommend people interested in this case read the Lynley Hood book. If you do you will, like Don Brash, be convinced that the current convictions are very unsafe.


October 14th, 2009 at 3:46 pm by David Farrar

Words can’t express how gutted I am that Simon Power has declined a Commission of Inquiry into the Peter Ellis case. I really hoped he would finally be the person to do the right thing.

The justification is that Peter Ellis has not exhausted all his appeal rights as he file an application for special leave to appeal to the Privy Council.

They also cite advice from Crown Law that such an inquiry may be ultra vires, as Ellis (unlike Arthur Allan Thomas) has not been pardoned. This is a classic argument of form over substance to my eyes. So the Government has to make its mind up that he is innocent and pardon him before they can establish a Royal Commission to investigate if he was innocent!

I really hoped Simon Power would not just go along with the recommendations of his officials, because it was always inevitable they would oppose this.

Call for Power to launch inquiry into Peter Ellis case

December 15th, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports that Justice Minister Simon Power has been urged by his former colleagues Katherine Rich and Don Brash (and author Lynley Hood) to launch a commission of inquiry into the Peter Ellis case.

They ask Power to consider appointing an Australian judge to reconsider the case, believing it would be difficult for a New Zealand judge to approach it without prior knowledge or involvement.

The trio also ask that a judge be given the power to recommend a pardon for Ellis if he or she found that a miscarriage of justice had occurred.

Rich said an inquiry into the Ellis case was essential. “Two former prime ministers, 12 law professors, 10 Queen’s Counsel and thousands of other petitioners have already expressed their concerns. This case will not go away until a final review is done.”

Phil Goff expressed support for an inquiry in Opposition, but did little in Government but rubberstamp what the Ministry of Justice advised. This is a real opportunity for Simon Power to show some leadership.

I am not normally a sceptic of juries finding people guilty. I think they got it right with Watson, Bain, Lundy, that antiques dealer etc etc. In fact normally I think juries find too many people not guilty.

But with Peter Ellis, I am aghast at how he was found guilty. I have read many many articles and the Hood book on the case, and each time I am staggered at how flawed the process was.

Simon Power has a great opportunity to restore faith in the justice system. I hope he takes it up.

Coddington’s column

September 28th, 2008 at 12:30 pm by David Farrar

Deborah’s column has a few things in it I can’tr resist responding to:

More puzzling than Helen Clark’s refusal to sack Peters is Key’s rush to judgment, ruling out working with NZ First before the committee’s report was tabled.

Key’s no crystal-ball gazer; he can’t know for sure NZ First won’t be back in November.

No. As he has said he would rather remain in Opposition than rely on Peters, as he can’t be trusted. It is called a principled decision. To be fair, it is also probably a recognition that such a Government would only last weeks or months anyway.

Contrast this with the National Party campaigning for convicted paedophile Peter Ellis’ innocence when he’d been found guilty by every court in the land.

How this is even relevant, I don’t know. But it is not National campaigning – it was Katherine Rich and Don Brash. But asking for a Royal Commission into the Ellis case (something I support) is not about campaigning for a paedophile – it is about campaigning for a better justice system.

Several years ago a National insider who quit the leader’s office told me if the party ever dies, trace the DNA back to McCully.

“He’s a trench fighter, and all his decisions are made according to what’s good for him. He was behind Jenny [Shipley] rolling Jim [Bolger], then he pushed Jenny over.”

This is why I responded, because I know this is false. McCully was not supporting Shipley. Far from it – he was a member of the Bolger team trying to defeat her coup. This is a matter of fact – many witnesses would testify to this.

A current National staffer says he overheard MPs discussing what they’d do about Peters if he held the balance of power after the election, and McCully expostulated; “The f***** wants my portfolio.”

This seems unlikely to me. Up until the donations scandal this year, National were actually quite keen to do a deal with NZ First. I know this, because it worried me. It was very well understood that Peters would keep Foreign Affairs and McCully was very relaxed about this state of affairs. This was common knowledge.

Peters has no-one to blame but himself. National were all set to do a deal with him if he made it back. But during the course of the last seven months, he has shown himself to be a man who can not be relied upon.

Peter Ellis

March 28th, 2008 at 7:32 pm by David Farrar

Poneke blogged earlier this week that Rick Barker has turned down the petition for a royal Commission into Christchurch Creche and Peter Ellis.

This is a great shame.  You see for me it isn’t even so much about whether Ellis was guilty or not. I think most of New Zealand have decided he wasn’t, and he is out now. Just as important to me is having a proper inquiry into how the whole affair was handled, so we can learn from our mistakes. There were simply dozens of issues with the Ellis case that cause concern.

I had been hopeful that if National becomes Government, we might finally get a royal commission. But both Don Brash and Katherine Rich have or are retiring and won’t be in the next Parliament to advocate for it. So we may never get a satisfactory resolution.