Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Collins outlines errors in Binnie's report

Justice Minister Judith Collins has pointed to two examples of where she believes former judge Ian Binnie made errors in his report on David Bain's compensation claim for wrongful imprisonment.

In Parliament this afternoon she said there were "many examples", but said she would outline two.

"The first is in relying on incorrect understanding of what has been given in evidence. In this case Justice Binnie asserts that a named scientist testified at the first trial that he had chemically enhanced the prints and later sought to resile from this.

"A reference to chemical enhancement was an error on a label attached to a fingerprint, and this was explained as such by the named scientist at the retrial," Ms Collins said in response to questions from Labour justice spokesman Charles Chauvel.

She said a second example related to assumptions as to the correctness of submissions on the law.

"Justice Binnie appears to have assumed to be correct Mr Karam's submission that the adverse inferences should be drawn against the Crown case on the basis of evidence that is no longer available.

"This is incompatible with the onus of proof being on Mr Bain in this particular case because this is, in fact, a request for Cabinet to use its discretion - and that's very clearly wrong."

She also told the House and reporters earlier that she was considering releasing Mr Binnie's report and the peer review of the report by former High Court judge Robert Fisher before Cabinet makes a decision.

She was considering whether it would be in David Bain's best interests.

His lawyer, Michael Reed, QC, and his longtime advocate Joe Karam have asked for Mr Binnie's report to be released to them because it has been given to the "opposing lawyers" at Crown Law.

Ms Collins yesterday explained why she had sought the peer review on a report by Mr Binnie, a former judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.

She said Mr Binnie's report appeared to contain assumptions based on incorrect fact, and showed a misunderstanding of New Zealand law.

Mr Binnie then issued a statement this morning, accusing Ms Collins of being "improper" in her conduct as a client.

He said that at all times he had the "very able input from a distinguished and totally independent New Zealand lawyer."

"Whatever else New Zealand law states, it is certainly well established that it is most improper for `a client' - especially a legally trained client - to attack publicly a lawyer's advice while simultaneously claiming privilege to protect from disclosure the advice that is being attacked."

Mr Bain served 13 years imprisonment after being convicted in 1995 for the murders of his parents, two sisters and brother in 1994.

The Privy Council ordered a retrial in 2007 and he was found not guilty at a second trial in 2009.

The Cabinet is not obliged to give compensation, and Mr Bain's case falls outside the guidelines for Cabinet even for eligibility because his conviction was not quashed outright with no retrial.

On the basis of past payments he could be in line for at least $2 million.

- NZ Herald

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