David Fisher

Senior reporter of the year

Bain case: How compensation claim unravelled

David Bainwas said to be probably innocent by retired Justice Ian Binnie. Photo / Richard Robinson
David Bainwas said to be probably innocent by retired Justice Ian Binnie. Photo / Richard Robinson

It was probable David Bain was innocent, retired Canadian Justice Ian Binnie found.

Justice Binnie found Mr Bain was definitely the victim of a botched police investigation. It was, he said, so bad it constituted "extraordinary circumstances" and Mr Bain should be compensated.

Justice Minister Judith Collins dismissed Justice Binnie's report, calling it "flawed". Mr Bain called a halt on his compensation claim and filed action with the High Court.

Documents released to the Herald under the Official Information Act detail the unravelling of the compensation claim - almost from the moment Justice Binnie's report landed with Mrs Collins last year on August 31.

Mrs Collins met Justice Binnie two weeks later to tell him she held "serious concerns" and intended to have it peer reviewed. She wrote to retired Justice Robert Fisher, QC, on September 26 asking him to do so.

On December 4, Justice Binnie became concerned over delays in dealing with the compensation.

He wrote to Mrs Collins saying, "I feel obliged to do something." Mrs Collins' office warned the report was privileged - Justice Binnie rejected the claim. Mrs Collins' office then offered an undertaking to release his report after the Cabinet had made a decision on compensation - if he refrained from doing so himself.

On December 11, Mrs Collins moved first. She told Justice Binnie - apparently for the first time - his report had been peer reviewed. She spelled out in a press release the same day her concerns about the report and its "incorrect facts".

By January 21, when there was talk of yet another report, questions about the process were being raised by Mr Bain's lawyers. Michael Reed, QC, accused Mrs Collins of running a "secret process" which showed a pre-determined view and "abuse of your powers".

Just over a week later, papers were filed in court and the compensation bid halted.

- NZ Herald

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