The Sensible Sentencing Trust's lawyer has boasted of the powerful "influence" of founder Garth McVicar in an invective-laden rant during which he attempted to support "tough on crime" arguments with inaccurate data.

Former Act MP and lawyer David Garrett sent a string of abusive text messages last night in support of McVicar and championing the "Three Strikes" law he designed and got through Parliament.

"The self-described 'cow cocky' from Hawke's Bay" has had 100 times the influence you and your mates have ever had ... and I know that burns like f***," said Garrett.

In a later text, he said McVicar "frustrates the left hugely … because a self-described 'cow cocky from Hawke's Bay' has been so hugely influential".

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Garrett, who resigned from Parliament in 2010 after admitting using a dead child's identity to get a false passport, was responding to an article yesterday in which McVicar said those considering criminal justice reform should ignore academic and scientific advice in favour of public opinion.

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The article contrasted McVicar's view with a new study from the Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser, which found "tough on crime" approaches had made New Zealand less safe. It comes amid plans by Minister of Justice Andrew Little to reform our criminal justice system.

"You are a grade one tosser," Garrett told this reporter. "You know very well there is excellent evidence that 3S (Three Strikes) works superbly as a specific deterrent to the 9000-odd first strikers."

Garrett, who said this month he had provided legal advice to the trust for 15 years, then presented statistics apparently showing the law had a proven deterrent effect.

The statistics had been sourced by criminal defence lawyer Graeme Edgeler for a post on the Public Address blog and then analysed further on the statistics blog run by University of Auckland statistics Professor Thomas Lumley.

Although the posts initially formed the view Three Strikes could be statistically shown to have worked, Garrett appeared unaware both Edgeler and Lumley had since withdrawn their comments, having found they were based on bad data from the Ministry of Justice.

Garrett texted: "If Christ himself came back and said 3S was the best thing since sliced bread you would say he was mistaken."

He said that ignoring the statistics in the blog posts showed the reporter as "another hack pushing an agenda" who was presenting Gluckman's researched and referenced findings as "holy writ".

Garrett scanned a print out of the outdated blog post - the date of printing was shown as October 2015 - and emailed it saying he expected to "watch you go mysteriously silent - can't be publishing anything that blows your own argument, eh?"

Garrett continued texting, peppering his communications with various personal insults.

After sending the print out of Lumley's outdated blogpost, he wrote: "How to make a dickhead go quiet - send him some stats from someone he has already acknowledged as authoritative … instant silence … too funny."

During the texts, Garrett said: "I am well aware this exchange is on the record.

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar - the trust's lawyer David Garrett has spoken of the
Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar - the trust's lawyer David Garrett has spoken of the "influence" held by McVicar.

"Let me make it easy for you … 'Garrett refers to Herald journalist as dickhead'."

Garrett continued this morning, saying, "You can choose several slants to try and offset 3S stats that rebut your earlier mocking piece on Garth and the Trust … no prizes for predicting how you will spin it."

Garrett also apologised for some name-calling, saying he was provoked in defence of McVicar, who was one of his closest friends.

Again, he urged the Herald use the statistics he had supplied to show the deterrence effect of the Three Strikes legislation on reoffending.

This morning, Garrett was provided with links to the blog posts he cited as proof Three Strikes was working.

Lumley and Edgeler had withdrawn their findings after discovering the wrong data had been provided by the Ministry of Justice in an Official Information Act response.

Edgeler wrote in December 2016: "The conclusions I reached in my post, as tentative as they were, are not supported by the evidence." The original post from September 2015 had been struck-through and clearly retracted.

Former Act MP David Garrett in 2010, responding to the discovery of his prior convictions at Parliament.
Former Act MP David Garrett in 2010, responding to the discovery of his prior convictions at Parliament.

Lumley also had headed his original post with a message saying the data analysis no longer functioned, adding: "There isn't good evidence that the law has any substantial beneficial effect."

In an updated post in January 2017 after receiving accurate data, Edgeler wrote that there was "no evidence that the existence of formal strike warnings has a deterrent effect".

Although there were slight drops in the numbers of those who would have earned a second strike - compared to those before the law was passed - Edgeler said "alternative explanations become more likely".

Those included new policing strategies, variation in offending numbers and changes in Parole Board decisions.

Garrett reposting: "I stand corrected."
He said he would seek fresh statistics from the Ministry of Justice.

However, he said "deterrence was only ever seen as a bonus" as the law was aimed at "incapacitation of thoroughly bad people so they can't hurt the rest of us".

"That in itself is good enough for me. Deterrence would be a bonus."

Gluckman's report - which he oversaw through its development by a range of academic advisers to government agencies - found prison was "extremely expensive training grounds for further offending".

Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, whose research says 'tough on crime' doesn't work and is making New Zealand worse.
Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, whose research says 'tough on crime' doesn't work and is making New Zealand worse.

It found the eventual release of those in prison led to damaged people being returned to the community without the issues that had led to their offending being addressed.

Garrett left Parliament in 2010 after it emerged that, in 1984, he had stolen the identity of a dead child to get a passport after reading Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal. He was arrested 21 years later during a review of passports.

It also emerged the tough-on-crime advocate had a 2002 assault conviction from Tonga. In 2012, he admitted a charge of drink-driving.