Speaking at a community event in Auckland on Friday morning, Bridges was asked about his views on Ellis’ case and the broader issue of wrongful convictions.
“I say this as Simon Bridges, lawyer, not as Simon Bridges, politician: when I look at all of the convictions you see in New Zealand, people have all of these views…there’s only one that I would say fundamentally was a miscue, and that’s the Peter Ellis one.”
Bridges told Newsroom after the event he believed Ellis had been subject to a miscarriage of justice.
“My view is if you look at it out of all the other ones, people have their different views but you look at the evidence [for other wrongful conviction claims], there’s definitely a prosecution case there.
“The difference with the Peter Ellis one was there were things that went awry in the prosecution and the investigation, and there was something of a witch hunt about that one.”
In all the other controversial cases there was definitely a crime. There are doubts (for some) over who did it, but no doubt someone was killed. But in the Ellis case there is a very real possibility that there was no crime.
Despite his views on Ellis, Bridges was lukewarm about Justice Minister Andrew Little’s work on a Criminal Cases Review Commission to look at apparent miscarriages of justice, telling the crowd there were “many safety valves in the system”.
I find the existing system inadequate. It works for some, like Pora, but a dedicated Review Commission has worked well in other countries and states. If done well, I support Labour’s work on this.