I'm willing to die, says ACC activist

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2013
Mike Dixon-McIver
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

HIGH PRICE: Mike Dixon-McIver outside ACC headquarters in Aitken St. He is now 25 days into a hunger strike.

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Nearing a month of living on the streets without food, Mike Dixon-McIver says only two things will end his protest - death, or a fair deal from ACC.

The 75-year-old ACC advocate has long assisted people with their claims, but has been locked in a six-year battle with the corporation after it tried to prosecute him for fraud.

The case was thrown out, and earlier this year a judge awarded Mr Dixon-McIver full legal costs of $13,000, but the corporation refused to go to mediation to discuss damages.

That led to Dixon-McIver camping outside ACC's head office in Aitken St, demanding more than $4 million for damages and losses.

ACC agreed to talks, but the protest resumed last month after Dixon-McIver declined a $90,000 compensation offer that he considered an insult.

Instead, he began a hunger strike and has now gone 25 days without food.

Earlier this week a report from Peter McKenzie, QC, commissioned by ACC, found medical reports provided by Dixon-McIver proved a link between the corporation's treatment of him and the mental injuries he now suffers.

However, there was still no "legal liability" for ACC to pay compensation, the report said.

Dixon-McIver said he believed he would win if he took his case to court again, but did not have the will to spend another three years tied up in legal wranglings.

It had been difficult not eating for almost a month, but he was adamant he would not alter his course of action, even if that meant dying.

"They slaughtered me 6 years ago," he said of ACC. "They could have put it right and they hid behind a point of law . . . I wrote four times to the chief executives over that time.

"I've reached the end of my patience with them and, yes, it almost seems sick, but read my medical reports. The only thing they understand is no compromise."

Yesterday, Dixon-McIver said that, after inquiries from The Dominion Post, ACC had told him it was willing to resume talks.

"They're coming to my office, which is right here, and they can tell me where they're going and if I don't like it then I'll be making it a political issue."

ACC declined an interview request, but in a statement spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said the latest report confirmed that Dixon-McIver had no legal basis for a claim against the corporation.

It did identify shortcomings in the ACC investigation that had caused mental and emotional distress, she said.

"Our settlement offer and formal apology reflects our acknowledgment of the investigation not being well conducted, and the impact it has had on Mr Dixon-McIver. ACC's settlement offer is a fair one and remains open for him to accept at any time."

THE STORY SO FAR

August 2007: ACC advises Mike Dixon-McIver that it will prosecute him for fraud, relating to advice he provided to a client about filling in a reimbursement form.

November 2008: Judge Behrens throws out the case, expressing misgivings about the legal process. Shortly after, Mr Dixon-McIver suffers a mental breakdown.

November 2010: He is declared bankrupt.

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March 2012: High Court allows his application to pursue costs against ACC.

January 2013: Judge Behrens orders the full recovery of costs and heavily criticises ACC's decision to prosecute, calling it an "extraordinary allegation".

May 2013: Dixon-McIver begins camping outside ACC's office after the corporation reject his calls for compensation. He leaves one week later when ACC agrees to try mediation.

October 2013: He returns to his protest site after rejecting ACC's apology and settlement offer. This time he also begins a hunger strike.

- Fairfax Media

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