Slater’s OIA requests about David Bain

Written By: - Date published: 2:33 pm, November 13th, 2014 - 12 comments
Categories: Judith Collins, national - Tags: ,

You have to hand it to National.  They will always bend the rules as far as possible for political advantage.

Labour’s Megan Woods has with the assistance of information gleaned from the FYI site raised questions about how accurate National’s response to OIA requests has been.  She has reviewed responses to OIA requests given by the Minister of Justice and has come up with some concerning questions.

New documents obtained by Labour show Judith Collins did not log OIA requests from Cameron Slater that were completed by her office on December 21 2012 and February 12 2013.

“These requests are missing from a list of OIAs fulfilled by the office of Judith Collins from 2012 to 2014 recently compiled by her successor, Justice Minister Amy Adams.

“It has already been revealed the Whale Oil blogger received requested information on David Bain’s compensation bid from the Justice Minister’s office within a staggering 37 minutes and another response relating to this case within five hours.

“These new documents show Cameron Slater refiled one of his requests just a day later with different dates. How did he know his original date was incorrect? Was he tipped off by someone in the minister’s office to change his request?

The release is based on this OIA response which asked for a list of the subjects of requests to the Minister of Justice made under the OIA in the past three years that were not refused.  The response is clever in that it has provided information for the past three calendar years and thereby left out the period from September to December 2011.  But it appears that at least three requests were not listed by Adams.  One wonders why.

The first was sent by Slater to Collins on December 21, 2011 and asked for correspondence from Michael Reed QC, Joe Karam and Michael Guest to the Minister about David Bain.  It was sent at 1:27 pm and a response was sent by 6:27 pm on the same day. The email response states:

Since receiving your request, another media outlet has placed a similar OIA request and asked for an expedited response.  In the interests of fairness, I am able to partially fulfil your request …

The response also included a letter that Collins had received from Guest that day.  The sense of what the interests of fairness requires is touching.

The second request was sent by Slater on February 11, 2012.  The specific terms of the request were for:

Copies of correspondence between Mr Ian Binnie and the office of the Minister of Justice including letters, emails, diary notes  and file notes in relation to the compensation case of David Cullen Bain since December 2012.

Binnie was the respected Canadian Jurist who recommended that compensation be paid to Bain.  It seems that Collins was not happy with his recommendations.  This matter is still unresolved.

The documents released contain the handwritten phrase “outside scope”.  The accompanying letter stated that the Minister was considering Slater’s request.

Then next day Slater sent in a further request phrased as follows:

Copies of correspondence between Mr Ian Binnie and the office and staff of the Minister of Justice including letters, emails, diary notes  and file notes in relation to the compensation case of David Cullen Bain since December 2012 1 August 2012.

The response said:

You are fortunate that this office has recently processed a similar OIA so I have information to hand that should satisfy your request.

I have bolded the inclusions and struck through the deletions.  You have to wonder why a day after a request for information was made a slightly amended request for information was made.  And you have to admire how fortunate Slater was to ask precisely the right question.

There does seem to be an element of preferential treatment here.  The list provided suggests that no OIA requests were processed as quickly as Slater’s requests.  I know from my own experience that Collins’ responses to OIA requests were less than timely.  Same day responses are well beyond my comprehension.

So some questions need to be answered:

  1. Why did Amy Adams not include these OIA requests in the list that she compiled of OIA responses?
  2. Why did the Minister’s office decide to give to Cameron Slater the December 2011 information and how did he know what to ask for?
  3. Was Slater told that his February 11, 2014 request was out of scope?
  4. Why did Slater submit a slightly different request on February 12, 2012 and who suggested to him that he should slightly rephrase his request?

It may be that Dirty Politics only scratched the surface …

12 comments on “Slater’s OIA requests about David Bain”

  1. Heather 1

    You are right, the Dirty Politics has only scratched the surface, there’s much more to come on this story. It’s like the House of Cards, soon it will all start falling down, or is that just wishful thinking?

  2. fishnz 2

    Interesting find from Megan Woods, I’m sure there is much more to come on this and other issues raised in the dirty politics book.

    As an aside, Megan Woods has been doing some great stuff recently. Looking forward to seeing more from her in the years to come, definitely one to watch.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Yep she did well. I suspect there are hundreds of examples of this sort of thing happening waiting to be discovered …

      The use of the FYI website is also a bit of an eye opener. Idiot Savant uses it and I think that all progressives should think about doing the same.

  3. BLiP 3

    Nice work by Megan Woods and, yes, of course there’s more to come. At this stage it looks like the National Ltd™ Cult of John Key has appointed a Justice Minister as honourable as the last one.

  4. Tracey 4

    great stuff ms woods.

    Am in my own OIA bullshit again, and again with msd.

    Asked them for the research relied upon by minister benefit when she referred to having information as follows:

    ?…““research had shown there were “touchpoints” for people going from work back onto a benefit – at six months and again at 12-14 months.”” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1& objectid=11326254

    As this document will be readily accessible, as she has already referred to it, I expect to receive it as soon as reasonably practicable, and not on the 20 th working day.. ”

    After two weeks, they “realised” it had to go to the Ministers office… I forwarded to the Ombudsmen which, post election, is back to… We are busy etc etc, we are considering… = delays…

    .”Thank you for your correspondence received on 6 November 2014 about the Ministry of Social Development. Your correspondence has been allocated reference number: 392933.

    As you may be aware, we receive a large number of enquiries from the public. These can be by telephone, email, online, in person as well as in writing. All of them first have to be appropriately assessed. Your complaint is currently at the initial assessment stage. A brief outline of our complaint handling process is set out in Appendix A. We will work through the complaint you have made and the facts you have given us and contact you again.

    Change of circumstances/new information In the meantime, please contact us if the circumstances relating to your complaint change, or you believe that your complaint should be dealt with on an urgent basis. If you have new or additional information, you can send it to us by email or post (details below), and we will add this to your complaint.

    Contacting us You can contact us by email at: info@ombudsman.parliament.nz. Alternately, you can telephone us on freephone 0800 802 602 or write to our postal address. If you do contact us or send us additional information, please ensure that you provide the complaint reference number at the top of this letter.

    What our role is and what we expect from you In Appendix B we have outlined what the Ombudsmen do and what their responsibilities are. It also outlines our expectations of you when dealing with the Office. Please read this through carefully.

    Yours sincerely

    Office of the Ombudsman | Tari o te Kaitiaki Mana Tangata.”

    Slaters turnaround times are surprising if happened once, more than once is so miraculous it seems unlikely to be accident.

  5. Richard Christie 5

    Any one familiar with how the Ministry played Thomas Eichelbaum and Phil Goff over the Peter Ellis case will appreciate that the MoJ has its own agendas in the miscarriage of justice arena.

  6. tc 6

    You gotta hand it to the Nats as they use everything available to their advantage.

    OIA was designed to get transparency and accountability but the Nats gaming of it allows them to keep their mouthpieces well fed whilst stalling and tying others resources up.

    Adams is as dark as any of them and climbing the dark ranks nicely thanks to others overstepping and getting caught out.

  7. Tony T 7

    As a member of J4RB, I find this news rather unfortunate.
    Whatever you think of Judith Collins, she did a damn good job on Team Bain/Karam, IMHO. Trashing the Binnie report, well it WAS biased garbage, that report. (read his interview with Bain himself if you are sceptical.)
    Now team Bain will be all over this like a rash, saying J Collins (and Slater) were in a big conspiracy to undermine Team Bain etc.
    Well, I am no fan of Slaters, but he also did a good job in putting those muppets firmly in their place. I fear this is all going to create more hard work for the J4RB efforts….*sigh*

  8. Tony T 8

    Further to me previous comment, it was not Judith Collins who commisioned the Binnie Report, and appointed Binne; it was Simon Power. He basically took off to Westpac and left her to deal with a damn big mess, to the tune of taxpayers’ $400K. Yes Binnie was paid $450 an hour to write that piece of CRAP. Judith Collins could have taken the easy way out, but in this instance she did not, to Team Bain’s eternal chagrin.
    There is still a judicial review underway over this same matter, more $$$ down the Bain Drain. DO you realise we have thrown about $20 million at David Bain and his cheerleaders so far? and it is partly the fault of Phil Goff, who gave them the unprecedented second crack at the Privy COuncil by blowing of the Thorpe report, and succumbing to Karam’s pressure. ?

    For all that I believe Goff to be a person of high integrity, but that was a bad judgement call IMO.

    Judith Collins has for the time being stalled a further $2 million from going gurgle gurlge gurgle down that seemingly bottomless Bain Drain. !

    I just want to add that I’m a massive Nicky Hager fan, and I agree that we are only seeing the beginning of DP fallout.

  9. Tony T 9

    Very good question Tracy. one can only speculate.
    I do know that Crusher said to Fisher that Binnie appeared to have “descended into the arena. ” I agree.
    For one thing he asked for Karam’s books ( incoherent gobbledegook that they are) and not the other 2 books out, the best of which is The mask Of Sanity by James MacNeish.
    Binnie did not interview crucil people (Guest, Cottle, et al) and he took as gospel every lying word that came out of Bain’s mouth, including some crap about a someone having indecent realtions with a goat. The person allegedly having had relations with a goat he didnot call to respond. You may think this is a sick joke, but it’s all there in the Binnie Report.

  10. Mr Magoo 10

    Tony T.
    You are correct re Binnie. He made a number of errors and also made some assumptions that were not based on the facts.
    Probably his two biggest errors were
    [1] Somehow coming to the conclusion that there was an innocent reason why a lens from the glasses that David Bain was wearing to watch TV the previous evening came to be found in Stephen’s room and
    [2] Somehow coming to the conclusion that those bloody sockprints were made by Robin Bain when
    [i] Justice Panckhurst repeatedly saying that the tests carried out were invalid because they did not replicate what happened at the crime scene.
    [ii] ERS scientist Peter Hentschel telling the PCA back in 1997 that he may not have been able to see the complete toes and heel
    [iii] The same scientist testifying at the retrial that he only measured the areas of strongest luminescence and there may have been fainter areas beyond that.
    [iv] No-one knows which print was the best print, or whether it was a walking print or a standing print.
    [v] Milton Weir, who assisted Hentschel in measuring that print testifying at trial that he could not see the definition of the toes and that he also could not be sure all the heel was defined.
    [vi] The only socks with blood on them were those worn by David Bain. Why would those socks [or at least the bloodiest of them ] have not a left a bloody print?
    [vii] If Robin Bain made those prints then Binnie must believe that Robin Bain changed his clothes to meet his maker and left his bloody clothes in the wash basket for David to wash.
    But hey, Binnie appears to believe that Mark Buckley made up that story re that jogger because he wanted to get back at David after David saw him having a sexual encounter with a goat. If Binnie believes that then he will believe anything .

    There are so many uninformed people out there that believe Binnie’s decision was the correct one when in fact is was based on errors of fact and incorrect assumptions.

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