The secret jailhouse witness who was found guilty of perjury after providing evidence leading to David Tamihere being imprisoned for a double murder 28 years ago is "manipulating the whole justice system" the Court of Appeal heard today.

The battle to reveal the identity of "Witness C" is playing out in court this morning. Lawyer Richard Francois is arguing an interim suppression order should be revoked.

Witness C gave "powerful" evidence in a 1990 jury trial, which led to Tamihere being found guilty of killing Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen.

Read more: Witness C jailed for David Tamihere murder trial perjury


Tamihere, who described Witness C's perjury convictions as a "major" moment in his case, has always professed his innocence.

In 1995, Witness C swore an affidavit stating he lied and gave false evidence after police offered him "major inducements", including $100,000.

There is an evil in our legal system . . .

He later confirmed the legal document in a nationally televised interview with the late Sir Paul Holmes in 1996.

However, he recanted his affidavit just weeks after the Holmes interview.

He was found guilty on eight perjury charges in a trial in the High Court at Auckland last year, but found not guilty of obstructing the course of justice, relating to his 1995 affidavit recanting his testimony.

Justice Christian Whata sentenced Witness C to eight years and seven months' imprisonment last year in what he agreed was a "truly exceptional" and rare court case.

Justice Whata revoked Witness C's name suppression today, but an ongoing interim suppression order was made pending the resolution of Witness C's intended appeal of his convictions.

Read more: Witness C appeals perjury conviction


This interim suppression order is the subject of today's Court of Appeal hearing in Wellington.

Those who choose to violate the justice upon which this country was founded can't expect it to protect their identity.

"There is an evil in our legal system," said lawyer Richard Francois, who was acting for Witness C's former prison inmate and "jailhouse lawyer" Arthur Taylor, who brought a private prosecution.

"For some it is easy to see but difficult to prove. Others don't see it at all. Some say the evil can be controlled, others say it's vicious and seeks to destroy the foundation of our justice system."

Francois said people's rights could be stripped away by evidence falsely presented in court.

"Those who choose to violate the justice upon which this country was founded can't expect it to protect their identity.

"For what is the truth? What is it worth if a man can say the things he like on oath, but not the words he truly means?"

This man is not honourable and I don't trust him.

Francois said the permanent suppression order imposed during the 1990 trial was "ancient history", and the appellant, Taylor, had the right to appeal against the interim order.

He said the High Court judge was wrong to impose the interim order.

"Your honour, I don't have a lot of respect for this respondent. I see him as a person who manipulates the system."

Francois said Witness C did not have a strong appeal, had not provided any substantial grounds for appeal, and questioned what steps he had taken to further his case.

"This man is not honourable and I don't trust him . . . I don't like what he's playing at. He's manipulating the whole justice system and I resent it."

Lawyer for Witness C, Heather Vaughn, said there was no interim suppression order, and that the suppression was only from the original order, meaning Taylor has no standing to appeal it.

But Justice Clifford said the order made by the High Court judge last year stated the original order was revoked and an interim order put in place.

Vaughn said the order was "worded in an unfortunate way" and that the intention of the judge, according to Witness C, was to impose a stay on the revocation of the original order until the conviction appeal, rather than revoke the original order and impose an interim one.

"Is it unfortunate because it doesn't say what you would like it to say?" Justice Clifford asked.

Vaughn said on the basis the original suppression order was still in place, Taylor did not have standing to appeal against it due to section 238 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which says the only people who may appeal the order are the applicant, the prosecutor, or a member of the media reporting on the proceedings.

She said Witness C's position was that being identified would highly prejudice a possible retrial.

Justice Asher questioned how the court could "do this procedurally" when Witness C hadn't appealed the revocation of the order and applied for a stay.

"How can we turn this into something which it is not?"

The judges reserved their decision.