Justice Minister Andrew Little announcement on Teina Pora historic miscarriage of justice

Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Teina Pora, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years, will receive an extra $1 million in compensation, Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced.

Pora was wrongfully convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett, and was released on parole in 2014.

The Privy Council quashed his convictions in 2015, and last year he received $2.52 million and a government apology, but the High Court ruled that the amount should be adjusted for inflation.

This morning Little announced that Pora will receive an extra $988,099 as an inflation adjustment, bringing the total compensation package to $3,509,048.42.

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"Additionally Pora will receive $45,000 in costs from his successful judicial review of the last National Government's refusal to inflation adjust," Little said.

"Teina Pora was the victim of one of New Zealand's worst miscarriages of justice. He was robbed of more than two decades of his life, languishing in prison for crimes he did not commit."

Little added that he was "almost certain" there were innocent people in prison.

A 2005 report found up to 150 people could be in jail on "unsafe" convictions.

"That is why I'm very keen to see the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission - a more systematic, less ad hoc way of going about claims on wrongful conviction.

"That work is well under way. I expect over the next year or so you'll see concrete steps made to establish [the commission]."

The commission is part of the coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First.

"At the moment you have to exhaust all your appeal rights, then go through this murky process of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. We're got to throw a bit of sunlight on that."

He said righting injustices should not rely on well-meaning people like Tim McKinnel, who has championed Pora's case since 2009.

"Justice might have been done for Teina Pora, but there will be others in prison at the moment who don't have a champion, but who are entitled to a system to put right the things that the criminal justice system does wrong."

Little said Cabinet also agreed to Review the compensation guidelines.

"The High Court has made it clear that the guidelines that are in place now, properly managed, would have been periodically reviewed and adjusted, rather than waiting for 17 years and a case like Teina Pora's before some scrutiny."

He said two further claims for compensation are being considered, and a review of the guidelines may affect those claims.

"I will also want an independent eye cast over it to see that it meets good standards of fairness and justice."

Pora's lawyers had previously indicated that an actuary had estimated the inflation-adjusted amount to be about $600,000.

Little said he took official advice, and the new amount was agreed to by Treasury.

"Who can put a price on nearly 20 years of a young life being spent behind bars for a crime the person didn't commit?"

Little did not expect a flood of new applications for inflation-adjusted compensation from others who were wrongfully imprisoned.

"Most cases of compensation were back in the 2000s, and compensation was considered and accepted by those people."

Little said he wanted to right this wrong as soon as he became Justice Minister. Cabinet agreed to the figure on Monday, and last night Pora's representatives accepted the offer.

"I'm pleased to say that this matter is at an end. Now justice has been done."