David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Police reject damning criticism of them in Canadian judge's report

Canadian judge Ian Binnie's report has drawn a response from police. Photo / File
Canadian judge Ian Binnie's report has drawn a response from police. Photo / File

Police last night rejected damning criticism of their handling of the David Bain case, as it was revealed failures in the original investigation were behind the recommendation that compensation be paid.

The police comment came after the release of retired Canadian judge Ian Binnie's report, which said the basis for Mr Bain getting compensation was the "acts and omissions of the Dunedin police [which] played a significant role in his wrongful conviction".

He said "these acts and omissions constituted so marked a departure from the requirements of the New Zealand Detective Manual of the day as to amount, in terms of the Minister's letter to me of 10 November 2011, to 'serious wrongdoing by authorities' in 'failing to take proper steps to investigate the possibility of innocence'."

Justice Binnie's finding of police failure was due to "criminality or wilful misconduct" on their part.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said the weight of evidence "pointed to David as the killer".

He said there were some errors by police which had since been covered in the court action since the murders.

"We don't accept Justice Binnie's opinion that the investigation by the Dunedin police contained egregious errors, or that there was a failure to investigate the possibility of innocence."

The report and a "peer review" by retired High Court judge Robert Fisher, QC, were released yesterday by Justice Minister Judith Collins.

Also released was correspondence, interviews with witnesses and evidence collected during Justice Binnie's nine-month inquiry.

The information released revealed Ms Collins had given police a copy of Justice Binnie's report months ago, received a "memorandum" of rebuttal and then passed those comments to Dr Fisher. There is no information showing whether Mr Bain, his lawyers or supporter Joe Karam were given any information early.

Last night, Ms Collins' office said police needed the chance to respond to the "significant criticisms" contained in the report. A spokeswoman said "police provided comments on Mr Binnie's findings of 'serious misconduct' and his criticism of individuals without right of reply. Police comments were provided to Mr Fisher".

A September 2012 letter from Ms Collins to Dr Fisher said the police analysis of the report was among factors in having a peer review carried out. Dr Fisher's criticism of the Binnie Report focused on the question of innocence. On the issue of police wrongdoings, he offered little to undermine the Canadian judge's finding. However, he said compensation should not be used for that purpose. "The historical purpose of the ex gratia payment is to compensate the innocent, not to root out official misconduct."

- NZ Herald

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