Banks' nemesis looks for others to put in dock
The man who forced John Banks into the dock to face charges of electoral fraud plans to pursue other high-profile personalities as a money-making scheme for himself.
Retired accountant Graham McCready has just been bankrupted for the second time.
As he fought to stop the bankruptcy, he revealed he was pinning his hope for making money on payments he said he would get from the company behind the private prosecutions he has become known for.
McCready, bankrupted in October in the High Court at Wellington, argued in court that he would be able to pay back his creditors from his work for a company called New Zealand Private Prosecutions Limited.
He said he was representing the company, set up by Wellington businessman Richard Creser in February this year, when he successfully initiated the prosecution of MP John Banks over donations by Megaupload tycoon Kim Dotcom for Banks' failed super-city mayoral bid.
McCready, who had unsecured debts of $35,511 and was being bankrupted by taxi company Green Cabs, argued that he could pay off the amount owed from his pension and his work for the prosecution service.
He said he was paid $125 an hour and the company owed him significant money from the work he had already completed.
The prosecution service was "self-funding from paid services" and he was confident he would earn "further significant money".
McCready told the Star-Times the company would make money from applying for costs for the prosecution under the Costs in Criminal Cases Act.
Section 4 of the act says that, after a conviction, a court may order the defendant to pay "such sum as it thinks just and reasonable towards the costs of the prosecution", which McCready thinks he is eligible to receive.
He said he would also launch a bid for costs from the Crown as he was doing the job it should have been doing.
However, the judge in the bankruptcy proceedings, Justice Ronald Young, was sceptical of the money-making power of the service.
In declaring McCready bankrupt, he said there was nothing to suggest the company would be able to pay its employee.
"[McCready's] hope that the company will somehow obtain costs in private prosecutions against defendants is, in my assessment, extremely unlikely and, if obtained, likely only to be very modest."
Despite the judge's reservations, McCready said he had prosecutions in the pipelines against managers of the Pike River coal mine and Auckland Mayor Len Brown. He said charges against Brown would be filed on January 14 over the super-city mayor's non-declaration of free hotel rooms, uncovered by auditors in the wake of his affair with Bevan Chuang.
McCready said he would prosecute Brown under section 105A of the Crimes Act - corrupt use of an official document.
Brown's record on dealing with SkyCity over its proposed convention centre during the period would make up "part of the prima facie case" against the embattled mayor, he said.
Successfully laying charges against Banks had emboldened the company as the courts had now set precedent as to the standard of evidence required to get a summons.
"Hopefully we'll be able to get an oral evidence hearing," he said.
McCready was happy to hand prosecutions over to the Crown once initiated, though.
"I'm not here to play Perry Mason in the High Court," he said.
McCready is no stranger to both sides of the law. He pleaded guilty to blackmail in March and has previously faced charges over trading while formerly bankrupt and tax fraud in relation to his accountancy work.
Sunday Star Times