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Govt accused of double standard on Bain compensation

Wednesday 12 Dec 2012 8:03a.m.

Govt accused of Bain double standard

David Bain’s most prominent supporter is accusing the Government of a double standard in its handling of his compensation claim.

The Government ordered a report on the compensation claim from retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie, but yesterday Justice Minister Judith Collins announced a peer review of that same report.

Mr Bain's legal team is upset by these latest developments as they are still yet to see Justice Binnie's original report.

“Say the report had gone against David Bain, would the minister have sent it to us and let us critique it and not given it to Crown Law?" Mr Bain's supporter Joe Karam told Firstline this morning. "Of course she wouldn’t.”

Word of the pending review, to be carried out by former High Court Judge Michael Fisher, QC, first leaked a week ago.

“It seems ridiculous," Mr Bain's lawyer Michael Reed, QC, told Firstline last week. "You spend half a million, you get one of the best top Supreme Court judges in the Commonwealth and then you get a retired High Court judge – which is nowhere near the level of a Supreme Court judge – to review him in secret. That’s wrong. Anything done in secret is never a fair process.”

Justice Binnie says he has no problem with the Government’s announcement of a peer review, but is upset with the lack of transparency and the way Mr Bain’s legal team has been shut out.

“I feel taking the report and giving it to the prosecution, and not to the other side, strikes me as fundamentally unfair,” he told RadioLIVE this morning.

Justice Binnie says he believes now that Ms Collins is making public statements about the contents of the report, it should be released.

The man at the centre of the situation, Mr Bain, is described by Mr Karam as being "emotionally disturbed" by the latest developments.

“As he said to me, he said, 'God almighty what can I do? My first trial has been proven to be a grave substantial miscarriage of justice, I’ve won at the Privy Council, my second trial I was acquitted by a jury, now I was interviewed under oath in the presence of the Crown Law lawyers by Justice Binnie for a whole day, he’s found me innocent and here it’s all going on again.'"

Justice Binnie says the process is "lopsided" and is concerned Ms Collins is trying to paint Government agencies as independent and unbiased in their judgements.

“The minister seems to have a curiously one sided view of 'confidentiality'," Justice Binnie wrote in a statement released this morning. "She feels free to criticise my report while claiming in the same press release that the report is covered by solicitor-client privilege and, therefore, I am not to disclose the obvious responses to her criticisms by releasing the report."

Prime Minister John Key has not seen the report, but says while costs are climbing because of the ongoing legal action he is confident this will prove to be worthwhile.

“The point really is while there’s a cost and while that cost grows… I think it’s really important that we get it right and so that is a small price to pay,” he told Firstline.

3 News

 
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01-08-2014 12:00