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Will Collins walk the talk?

Written By: - Date published: 9:18 am, December 27th, 2011 - 54 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags: ,

Radio New Zealand reports that Peter Ellis has a petition to the Minister of Justice seeking a pardon.

The current Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, signed another petition seeking an inquiry into his case in 2005.

The question is will Collins now walk the talk?

54 comments on “Will Collins walk the talk? ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Can’t understand why they’ve never given Ellis a pardon – it’s pretty clear it was a gross miscarriage of justice and he’s made it fairly clear that it’s not about liability he just wants his name cleared.

    • Prefab Sprout 1.1

      Higherstandard, if you’re wanting some deeper insights into the reasons why Peter Ellis has not been pardoned, I would strongly recommend you have a read of Lynley Hood’s dissection of the Ellis case (if you haven’t already). But very broadly, the obstacles to a pardon are:

      (a) lots of people connected with the case (Judges, lawyers, QC’s, psychologists, politicians and many other people of high standing) will be made to look like fools if Ellis is pardoned. Many of these people have staked a reasonable amount of their professional reputations on their conduct during the Ellis case;

      (b) although Ellis is undoubtedly innocent, child sexual abuse is political dynamite, and politicians don’t like pardoning those convicted of such crimes, even if they are innocent. Few crimes have the capacity to excite public anger like child sexual abuse, and the government may be concerned that the act of pardoning Ellis may be interpreted by at least some of the electorate that the government is going “soft” on child sexual abusers;

      (c) if Ellis is pardoned, our criminal justice system will have to face a raft of uncomfortable questions. Hood was able to prove that not only is Ellis innocent, but that the alleged “crimes” at the Christchurch Civic Creche never took place. Ellis would have had to defy to laws of physics in order to commit the crimes he now stands convicted of. A properly functioning criminal justice system should have been able to pick up on this fact and acquit Ellis as a matter of course. The fact that this did not happen suggests something has gone seriously awry in our criminal justice system. An official inquiry of some sort would almost certainly take place, and it may reveal a number of ugly and unpalatable truths that the present government doesn’t need in light of such issues as the Christchurch rebuild, the economy, etc.

      There are other factors at play too, but in the interests of brevity I’ll stop here.

      • Grumpy 1.1.1

        Where does Luanne Dalziel figure in this?

        I heard she was a strong voice in Labour Cabinet against any inquiry?

        • Prefab Sprout

          Christchurch-based Leanne Dalziel, who was a member of the Justice and Electoral Committee when it was considering the Brash petition, has always been of the view that Ellis was guilty (who knows, she may have changed her mind). However, in fairness to Dalziel, it should be noted that she did exempt herself from all of the Committee’s considerations of the Ellis petition. I do not know what influence (if any) her views on this case may have had on the Labour caucus.

      • Ari 1.1.2

        As far as I’m concerned all three of those points are positives, but then again, I actually care that those convicted of any offense are genuinely the people who did the deed.

  2. Jenny 2

    As it took her three years to crush her first car. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      More likely to win a bet that rather than attempting to drag her heels to walk the talk, she would sooner squawk like cock 😉

  3. randal 3

    Not only does he need a pardon but he needs full compensation as well.
    the shits that dragooned him need to be flogged in public as well.

    • Anne 3.1

      the shits that dragooned him need to be flogged in public as well.

      I well remember the interview with a bunch of hysterical mothers whose almost incoherent venom knew no bounds. Even at the time they reminded me of the women who sat knitting in front of the guillotine shouting the French equivalent of “off with their heads” or some such. It was the first indication to me that something with that case against Ellis was badly wrong.

  4. Fotran 4

    I think it is a disgrace that so many Ministers have avoided doing the right thing by Peter Ellis.
    Look at the Paper by Ross Francis of Wellington for the Law Society Journal, Nov 2007, showing new evidence.
    randal – yes I agree.

  5. I will be watching closely as iIdo not think that man should ever have been accused of doing harm to any child.
    The policeman heading the investigation was a born again as well as the mother who initally made the complaint. Just goes to show how dangerous these cults of born agains can be on our society,

    But when have you know the police to come out and say we got it wrong, the funny thing is though the police then expect us to have complete faith in their ability to uphold the law in a honest and just way.

    • Just goes to show how dangerous these cults of born agains can be on our society

      Indeed Maggie May; those born agains you refer to are almost as dangerous a cult as those wolverines who devoured Peter Ellis after children were enticed into making allegations which could not be proven, simply because the events in question didn’t actually happen.

      There are idiot Christians, idiot agnostics, idiot Muslims and idiot atheists. Don’t tar everyone with the same brush.

      I would far rather see Peter Ellis pardoned and compensated than a single penny awarded to David Bain who should, in my opinion, be satisfied with an acquittal that was against the weight of evidence..

    • Lindsey 5.2

      One of the things in common in most of these “child abuse” cases has been the presence of fundimentalist Christians as part of the investigation team, either in the Police or among the Social workers. Particularly in the so called “Satanic” abuse variants. There was a book, I think called “Satanic Panic” which looked into this aspect of sveral overseas cases.

  6. Nick K 6

    The police never convicted him Maggie. And take your religious bigotry elsewhere.

    Having said all that, of course he should be pardoned. I feel very sorry for him and all that he has had to endure. This is certainly a blight on our country.

  7. Grumpy 7

    A sorry story and one that should now be sorted with a pardon for Ellis.

    Now, can someone please explain the political shennanigans that prevented Labour doing the decent thing years ago?

    Collins must act or be regarded as no better than her sorry predecessors.

    • Prefab Sprout 7.1

      Hi Grumpy – up above you’ll see a reply I made to Higherstandard which outlines some of the factors preventing Ellis from being pardoned. In terms of the political shenanigans that led to Phil Goff (the then Minister for Justice) fluffing this issue, the brief history goes something like this:

      Upon becoming Minister for Justice, Phil Goff, who apparently had concerns about the Ellis case, directed Justice Eichelbaum to do a review. Justice Eichelbaum reported back that he had no concerns about the convictions, and that, as Goff made clear, the case for Ellis’ innocence fell short “by a distinct margin”. Eichelbaum’s report was subsequently criticised by many, including a Dunedin author by the name of Lynley Hood.

      Lynley Hood’s book A City Possessed was released in 2001. It received almost unanimous critical acclaim from lawyers, academics and other learned authors. It sold very well for a 700 page hardback and won a few literary awards. As a result of the book’s success and widespread acclaim, Goff came under pressure to consider a pardon. Goff responded by asking Val Sim at the Ministry of Justice to assess Hood’s book and the allegations contained within it.

      Val Sim produced a virtual hatchet job on Hood’s book. Despite the fact that Hood’s book had been almost universally praised, Sim dismissed the book out of hand. Had Sim at least conceded that Hood’s book raised some significant issues, Sim’s report would have been more compelling, but by dismissing it in total, I can’t help but speculate that Goff may have said to Sim “get this woman and this book off my back!”

      Not willing to admit defeat, Don Brash then submitted a petition to Parliament asking that Ellis be pardoned. That petition was considered by the Justice and Electoral Committee. Their report on the petition was bizarre. The Committee was of the view that there was no miscarriage of justice in the Ellis case, but nonetheless they said they were “concerned” at the operation of a number of sections in the Evidence Act.

      That simply astonished me. You think Ellis is guilty, yet you’re seriously concerned that the sections used to secure his convictions are faulty? How can they justify that? It’s a bit like saying: “We have heard concerns that fires can cause burns. Having considered the matter, we do not agree, but we nonetheless recommend that people stay as far away as possible from fires”.

      Goff also dodged the petition on the grounds that Ellis supporters had not been able to present “any new evidence” for consideration. But this was a red herring. The point of the petition was not that there was any new evidence, the concerns were how the existing evidence was interpreted at the time. But Goff was not interested. As per the “factors” in my response above, there was too much riding on the Ellis case, and Goff did not want to open a can of worms.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Hey well here’s the perfect answer then: pardon Ellis posthumously, after everyone else involved with the fuck up that was the investigation, court case and subsequent reviews has also died.

      • deuto 7.1.2

        Thanks for your learned inputs, Prefab Spout.

        I followed the Ellis case very closely at the time and during the subsequent appeals etc. including reading (thanks to the net) material that was suppressed.

        IIRC, there were two MPs (who are still MPs – one Labour and one National) who had/have personal relationships with parents of children at the creche at the time. Hence, IMO and that of others, the reluctance of both major parties to support indepth investigations, the revelation of new evidence etc. Being a cynic, I strongly doubt that Collins or the current National govt (or Labour opposition) will change their previous stance due to the high listings of both MPs concerned.

      • RedLogix 7.1.3

        These lucid and obviously informed comments Prefab are much appreciated. Frankly the whole affair reflects very badly on NZ’s Court system and has undermined confidence in it rather badly. Everyone knows Ellis is innocent of the crimes he’s convicted of, yet the system cannot bring itself to rectify it’s own mistake. That is very, very concerning.

        One question. I can accept that various Ministers, Goff being one of them, have fluffed this badly. There is a pattern of Ministers of Justice being reluctant to intervene where intervention was clearly needed. Why?

        Have they been constrained by the convention that our political and judicial arms of government should avoid directly meddling in each other’s operational sphere? Has this sense of not wanting to ‘piddle on each other’s patch’ led to successive Ministers acting to avoid embarrassing some very senior members of the legal fraternity in an entirely unwarranted manner?

      • Morrissey 7.1.4

        Val Sim produced a virtual hatchet job on Hood’s book.

        There was another high-profile attempt at a hatchet job by the Prime Minister’s poisonous “media adviser”….

        TV1 9:35p.m., Saturday 16 August, 2003
        “Edwards at Large” Transcript—-Presenter Brian Edwards
        Segment with Lynley Hood


        BRIAN EDWARDS: In recent months there appears to have been a ground swell of public support for a further review of the conviction of Peter Ellis for the sexual abuse of children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche. There can be little doubt that much of the impetus for this ground swell including the petition calling for a Royal Commission to look into the case has come from Lynley Hood whose almost 700 page book, A City Possessed, critically examined the evidence presented at Ellis’s trial and the conduct of the subsequent appeals and the inquiry by Sir Thomas Eichelbaum. Well, Hood has received no less than three Montana awards for A City Possessed and a Doctorate in Literature from Otago University for it and her previous books on Sylvia Ashton-Warner and Minnie Dean. Could she, nonetheless, have got it wrong? …


        [Edited. Please don’t duplicate vast screeds verbatim in comments. Post extracts and links. — r0b]

  8. randal 8

    cutting to the chase it is clear that Ellis was framed by idiots.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      idiots with an agenda and a know it all attitude.

      • Grumpy 8.1.1

        With you all the way here CV.

        What will it take for justice to be done – Collins?

        Well done prefab sprout, clear logical explanations. Hard to credit that this discussion is courtesy The Standard, but well done for raising this most scandalous festering boil on the N Z justice system”s bum

  9. Anne 9

    As per the “factors” in my response above, there was too much riding on the Ellis case, and Goff did not want to open a can of worms.

    Yes, in a nut shell. Mind you I think the same would have happened had it been a Nat. govt. Not only would it have caused a few of their ‘establishment mates in high places’ to be publicly embarrassed, there is always the desire (be it a Nat. or Lab. led govt.) to side step any issue that might culminate in millions of dollars in compensation. It would set a precedent for every Tom, Dick or Harry who was incarcerated for a crime they didn’t commit.
    Can’t have that!

  10. monty 10

    That act of gutlessness by Goff should hopefully cause him eternal shame.

    • chris73 10.1

      It should but it probably won’t (being hes a politician) but then if National do nothing then they’re as bad as Labour

  11. chris73 11

    Justice Minister Phil Goff reportedly does not intend to read ‘A City Possessed’

    I will not read that book by Hood

    I will not, will not, say it’s good

    I will just say the courts are right

    I do not want to see the light

    I will not read about that case

    I am scared of losing face

    I will not read it fast or slow

    I want to keep the status quo

    I will not read it, so I say

    I wish that book would go away

    I will not read that woman’s book

    I will not even take a look

    I will not read it, not a bit

    In case I have to act on it

    by David Hood

    Be warned Collins this could be said about you 😉

    • RedLogix 11.1

      Credit where it’s due chris… that’s rather good. His handling of the Ellis affair was not one of Goff’s finer moments.

      • chris73 11.1.1

        so good in fact that I’m going to track down the book and read it

        • Fotran

          Chris – should be a copy in your public library, although I was led to believe that some “Librarians” never actually put it on the shelves when published, or was recorded as “out” when requested.
          You should read the Eichelbaum report but remember it was actually written by Val Sim, whose “view” it represented. Eichelbaum was ill at the time, but it was published in his name.

  12. Ari 12

    I would like to be able to congratulate Judith Collins on something for once, but we’ll see…

    • Brooklyn 12.1

      And Don Brash too… sheesh

      • chris73 12.1.1

        Don Brash, at the very least, had honesty. When he talked about cannabis you could tell it was something he believed in rather then just for votes.

        Not saying everything he talked about was right (and I’ll be the first to admit I got it way wrong when he came back) but at least he believed in it.

        NZs most honest politician?

  13. randal 13

    poor old donny brash.
    he reached the limit of his expertise when he put his signature on the $1 note and then allowed inflation to drive one dollar notes out of existence.
    other than that he knew how to count baloney!

  14. Adam 14

    “Everyone” doesn’t know Ellis is innocent. I for one don’t believe he is, even though he may have now convinced himself he is. The judge’s sentencing notes give warning of people wanting to believe otherwise, ignoring the weight of evidence. Yes, there were extreme statements that were not put to the jury, which might have raised questions as to credibility of evidence, but that was because the prosecution judged that they were unsound because of probelms that might have crept on on the second or third interview of young children by people who did not know how to do it. The first interviews were enough to convict, without what might be construed as “leading”.
    Lynley Hood’s book was not universally praised, and her subsequent hatchet job of the Unfortunate Experiment, and her lame defence when that was clinically refuted by people who knew stuff, indicates Hood is not the genius investigator people seem to think she is.

    • Daveosaurus 14.1

      And what “hatchet job” would that be? Are you sure you’re not confusing Lynley Hood with Linda Bryder, who did write a (subsequently refuted) hatchet job on the Cartwright Inquiry?

    • ron 14.2

      Pleased to someone responding to the drivel above, Adam.
      Ellis is guilty. Those of us who know the kids and were actually at the trial know that. Everyone else is basing their opinions on media coverage and Hood’s book. Hood had no intention of writing a balanced investigation, she went into the book with the agenda of “proving” a miscarriage of justice and was supported by the usual misinformed media hysteria that accompany this sort of thing. The most revealing interview with Hood was on a small local TV station when she was asked “what about the kids? The – now adults – who still say he abused them?” She laughed and basically refused to answer the question.
      Ellis is guilty. He’s done his time and should shut the f^*k up.

      • Colonial Viper 14.2.1

        So which of Hood’s criticisms are factually wrong, in your opinion.

      • Prefab Sprout 14.2.2

        Ron – many of the children who said they were abused by Ellis at the High Court trial have since retracted their allegations … not least the oldest child who was the only one to make any coherent allegations against Ellis.

        I would strongly recommend that you at least read the first chapter of Hood’s book. That chapter deals with her overall approach to this case and the reasons why she did not contact the children.

        And have you ever asked yourself why Ellis has not, as you say, shut the f**k up? The vast majority of convicted pedophiles strongly protest their innocence in Court, but nonetheless slink off into the shadows after they have been convicted. Ellis is our most notorious pedophile, and yet he refuses to let this matter rest. Why is he still protesting his innocence after so many years? Could it be because he actually is innocent?

        • ron

          “Many”? The complainants (and several victims who weren’t complainants) have come under enormous pressure from the media and their lackies and I don’t blame them for recanting. Some left the country. Others have changed their name.
          Have read the book and spoken directly to Hood. Hasn’t changed my view because I know the victims and I was at the trial. She bought her own conspiracy theory and then went out to sell it.
          I don’t know why Ellis continues to maintain his innocence.
          The only scandal here is that so many otherwise intelligent people have bought the apologist line and continue the abuse of those kids..
          Those kids were abused. He is guilty.

      • Morrissey 14.2.3

        You are clueless, Ron.

    • Prefab Sprout 14.3

      Adam – I don’t think anybody is suggesting that Hood is a “genius investigator” and I cannot speak for what you consider to be her “hatchet job” on the Unfortunate Experiment. But I think it is significant to note that A City Possessed was almost universally praised by a significant number of scholars, academics, medical practitioners and psychologists. That suggests to me that Hood had got quite a few things right in her analysis of the Civic Creche case, and that the conclusions in her book cannot be dismissed lightly.

  15. Adam 15

    You’re right. Apologies there. Hood’s other books are about Sylvia Ashton Warner and Minnie Dean.
    In these kind of cases, the hardest thing can be the children getting someone to believe.

  16. Roy 16

    Having actually been in the premises where the Christchurch Civic Creche was, I am absolutely certain that Ellis is innocent. The premises are extremely open-plan. I think it is very sad that some children were so brainwashed by leading questions that they still retain false memories.

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