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Finlayson covering for corrupt judge?

Written By: - Date published: 9:34 am, April 12th, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: corruption, law - Tags: , ,

Last year, Justice Bill Wilson sat on a Court of Appeal case in which wool growers tried to get levies they claimed they were owed by the Wool Board. The judges found in favour of the Wool Board. The problem was, Justice Wilson is a business partner of the lawyer for the Wool Board, Alan Galbraith, and owed him nearly quarter of a million dollars.

It’s a clear conflict of interest. Justice Wilson should have recused himself from the case. Instead he repeatedly failed to declare his conflict of interest, and has since turned down private suggestions that he resign. The matter is currently being reviewed by the Judicial Conduct Commissioner.

The next stage is for the Commissioner to appoint a Judicial Conduct Panel. This panel can recommend to the Attorney-General that the judge be sacked. It’s then completely up to the Attorney-General to decide the judge’s fate.

But Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has trampled all over that process by saying that he will not act against Justice Wilson, who is a mate of his from their days at Bell Gully.

According to a sworn affidavit by Richard Bell, a wool grower who is not involved in the case, his local National MP, Colin King told him that Finlayson had said “Justice Wilson is a mate of mine and there’s no way I am pursuing this any further”.

Of course, Finlayson is denying all but I don’t buy it. What’s in it for Bell to lie? He’s actually in competition with some of the wool growers who stand to gain if the Court of Appeal’s decision is overturned because of Justice Wilson’s conflict of interest.

This all smacks of the dirty little old boys’ club that typifies National Government. Just as Bill English, Phil Heatley, and other ministers seem to think it’s OK to help themselves to taxpayer money, ministers like Finlayson seem to think it’s completely natural to use their power to do personal favours for their mates.

23 comments on “Finlayson covering for corrupt judge? ”

  1. Tigger 1

    Glad we’re finally getting some light shed on Finlayson – he has his fingers on a lot of what is going on in Cabinet and it’s only now we’re seeing any news about his actions.

    The judge IS a friend and therefore, if nothing else, there is the appearance of a conflict of interest here for Finlayson. By not acknowledging that he makes it clear once again that this lot do not have a handle on what conflicts are.

  2. Red Rosa 2

    It does appear strange that Bell, who apparently has nothing to gain, has gone to the trouble of swearing an affadavit on a question which is such obvious political dynamite.

    Denials by King and Finlayson need closer questioning. Does King deny such a meeting took place? Did he ever discuss the case with Finlayson?

    There is still serious money sloshing around in the old Wool Board system, and seems its final home remains an open question. This case may only partially settle it.

  3. ianmac 3

    John Key says the Finlayson case is inconsequential and that he is relaxed about it all. He also said that conflicts of interest are so old school and that he is determined to make His Government work more efficiently without worrying about such rubbish. 🙂 Or not.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      ianmac, haven’t you heard? the big news of today is that Key is meeting Biden. All this other stuff is so boring!

      Pics of two grinning do nothing fools, now that’s politics!

  4. tc 4

    Watch this get brushed off like a bad case of dandruff with some nice medicated shampoo called ‘MSM Do Zip till 2011’…..this stuff only gets traction if the msm pick it up otherwise they’re abvle to carry on the ‘busy govt…aww shucks……missed that memo..’ spin.

    • Tigger 4.1

      It depends if this and Finlayson’s ‘come and chat to me behind the curtains’ approach to F&S sees him become a person of interest to the media. He is publicity shy and one of the more mysterious members of Cabinet (how many of the public even know he’s gay for example?). Finlayson doesn’t like the limelight and the media loves chasing people who genuinely don’t want to be chased…

      • QoT 4.1.1

        I’m really not sure what the fucking hell Finlayson’s sexuality has to do with his lack of profile or aversion to the limelight. It’s like saying “Kate Wilkinson is one of the more mysterious members of Cabinet. How many of the public know she lives in Rangiora, for example?” (and speaking of which, her Wikipedia page is about a third the size of Finlayson’s, which *could* actually be a relevant point to make).

        • Zorr

          And what does Chris Carters sexuality and choice of partner have to do with anything either? Yet the MSM seem determined to focus on it. All Tigger is doing is serving a little of it back.

          Grow a thicker skin QoT.

          • QoT

            So … it’s wrong when the media does it to Carter, which means it’s totally okay for commenters to do it to Finlayson? Thanks for that lesson in consistency, Zorr, and thank you again for pitching the classic “get a sense of humour, progressive” argument in too.

  5. The next stage is actually for the Judicial Conduct Commission to decide whether to recommend the Attorney-General appoint a Judicial Conduct Panel.

    And if he does so recommend, would you take a bet that Finlayson won’t act on that recommendation (by either appointing one, or recusing himself and letting someone else appoint one).

    • also, I don’t believe there has been any suggestion that Justice Wilson is Corrupt.

      • Bright Red 5.1.1

        “I don’t believe there has been any suggestion that Justice Wilson is Corrupt.”

        you don’t?

        you don’t think that an investigation into whether a judge acting unethically in failing to declare conflicts of interest around a case he was deciding is a “suggestion of corruption”?

  6. BLiP 6

    This all smacks of the dirty little old boys’ club that typifies National Government the entire legal profession


    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Although there is corruption within the legal profession not everybody within it is corrupt. In fact, most of them won’t be.

      • Rex Widerstrom 6.1.1

        Absolutely. Many of the finest, bravest, most principled people I’ve known have been lawyers. Thankfully they’ve outweighed the number of lazy, biased and corruptible people I’ve known, a number of whom have also been lawyers.

        I wouldn’t be walking round today if several lawyers hadn’t refused to be part of the “dirty little club” to which you refer, BLiP.

        Like politics, law seems to be a profession that attracts both the very best and very worst humaity has to offer, though thankfully there are more good than bad (and of course the majority are, like the rest of humanity, somewhere between the extremes).

        More importantly, if we buy into discrediting lawyers generally we’re setting up a public mindset whereby people like Liz Cheney can come up with contemptible campaigns like “The Al Quaida Seven” and find a ready market for it. And considering lawyers and judges are sometimes all that stands between citizens and the worst excesses of the state, I’d strongly recommened we don’t create such a climate.

        As for the issue in question, I’m reserving judgement. I’ll simply say that some of the worst lies I’ve ever seen told were told in affidavits, since nowadays no one is ever prosecuted for perjury when in fact many ought to be.

        That in no way a comment on Mr Bell, simply a warning that “affidavit” does not automatically equal “truth”, and should basically be approached with the same caution as any unsworn statement.

  7. grumpy 7

    This whole thing just proves how stupid Margaret Wilson’s obsession with having a Supreme Court was.

    Of course it’s just an “old boys/girls club”. Legal rulings by the Supreme Court have hardly been regarded as authoritative and scholarly by the legal profession.

    Let’s see if we can go back to the Privy Council or borrow Australia’s system.

  8. Jim Nald 8

    What deeply matters is how we maintain the conflict of interests – actual, potential and perceived – of the Supreme Court or any other courts, judicial bodies or Government decision-makers in New Zealand.

    I would hate to see the current Government compromise on this.

    So far with what I’ve read, the individuals involved have collectively failed to address potential conflict of interests and, indeed equally importantly, those that are perceived.

    I’m waiting for the Government to do something to change my perception.

  9. Jim Nald 9

    Sorry … should read:

    “What deeply matters is how we maintain the independence, and manage the conflict of interests actual, potential and perceived of …

  10. Tigger 10

    Actually not a serve. And I did not use his sexuality to attack, I merely stated a fact. And living somewhere and being something are not the same thing, Q.

  11. sean14 11

    “Of course, Finlayson is denying all but I don’t buy it.”

    Of course you don’t buy it Marty, it doesn’t fit with what suits you to believe. Finlayson is a Tory, he couldn’t possibly be telling the truth.

  12. Relic 12

    New Zealand has the most corrupt Judicial System this side of Burma (or Zimbabwe)

    I have a case where a High Court Judge has committed perjury assisting the other party.You don’t need to know the case – the Court documents show this to a five year old.Judicial Conduct Commissioner – he won’t do a thing -apparently a Judge committing perjury and premeditation is not a mater of conduct..Police – they’ve argued the other party did not commit theft or fraud by acquiring our commissioned documents pretending he represented us.The same police officer wrote the other party had done nothing wrong my and my wife’s name and our address on documents purporting to be submissions by us to a government body.I could go on and on but that will be for a website later.
    I’m at Appeals stage so cannot say more but would not be surprised if the old boys network will try to close ranks.
    [email protected]

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