Government declines inquiry into convictions of Peter Ellis

Peter Ellis in 1993.
John Kirk-Anderson

Peter Ellis in 1993.

The Government has ruled against an independent inquiry into the sexual assault convictions of Peter Ellis.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has declined a request from supporters of Ellis for a commission of inquiry, saying it did not contain new evidence and an inquiry would not determine matters of guilt.

The push for an inquiry was led by former National Party leader Don Brash, who along with Dunedin author Lynley Hood, wrote to Adams in December last year, calling for an investigation. 

Justice Minister Amy Adams.
STACY SQUIRES/The Press

Justice Minister Amy Adams.

Ellis was convicted on 13 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche, in 1993. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Since then, his convictions have been the subject of extensive consideration including two appeals, an inquiry by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, and a 2003 petition to Parliament. In 2008, a similar request for a Commission of Inquiry was made to and rejected by former Justice Minister Simon Power.

Ellis' supporters have always argued he was convicted on unreliable evidence from children interviewed in a leading way by specialist interviewers.

Former National leader Don Brash has had his request for an independent inquiry into the convictions of Peter Ellis declined.
Dean Kozanic/Fairfax NZ

Former National leader Don Brash has had his request for an independent inquiry into the convictions of Peter Ellis declined.

Adams said today she had declined the request, because the Inquiries Act could not be used to determine someone's guilt. Nor had Ellis exhausted all of his appeal rights within the judicial system. 

"Furthermore, the request is almost identical to the one made to former Justice Minister Power, and contains no new evidence. I'm not satisfied there is any new information or development that warrants reconsideration of Mr Power's decision," she said.

In their letter, Brash and Hood wrote in the history of New Zealand criminal justice, "no petition to Parliament has been supported by such a weight of political, legal and scholarly authority as the 2003 petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry".

It also cited a "wave of child abuse hysteria that swept the western world in the 1990s".

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"Hundreds of innocent childcare workers were convicted of bizarre and often impossible crimes against very young children. Most of the overseas cases have now been overturned."

Brash was not immediately available for comment. 

 

 - Stuff

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