Lawyer critical of Judith Collins

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 08:13 20/08/2014
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Which name would you prefer for the lane by the justice precinct?

Robert Chambers (Supreme Court)

Nigel Hampton (QC)

Gerry Orchard (Barrister and Professor)

Graham Panckhurst (High Court)

Sir William Young (Supreme Court)

Vote Result

Judith Collins
JUDITH COLLINS: Justice Minister

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Justice Minister Judith Collins has been criticised for naming a lane outside Christchurch's new justice precinct after a friend.

Collins is already under fire after allegations she and Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater were behind an attack campaign that led to a public servant receiving death threats.

Some Christchurch lawyers are now questioning why Collins named the new lane after someone she had personal links with - the late Sir Robert Chambers - rather than someone with links to Canterbury.

The justice precinct will house about 2000 workers from Civil Defence, police, the Fire Service, the Ministry of Justice, St John and other relevant agencies when it opens on a site between Lichfield and Tuam streets in 2017.

Chambers died in his sleep at his Wellington home last year, aged 59. He had been appointed to the Supreme Court in 2011 after a distinguished career as a barrister, Queen's Counsel and judge, and had served alongside Collins on the Auckland District Law Society Council.

Christchurch barrister Gerald Lascelles wrote in the New Zealand Law Society's Canterbury Westland branch magazine that the decision was "ill-considered".

"It was made without proper or any regard for local interests and seemingly made by one who had long-standing personal links with the person so acknowledged," he said.

Lascelles told The Press that although Chambers was "apparently a very good chap", Collins needed to justify her decision to name the lane after a North Islander.

He suggested the lane would be better named after someone like Sir Howard Kippenberger, who fought and was wounded in both world wars, or Sir Erime Northcroft, who sat on the Tokyo War Crimes Trial.

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In a letter published in The Press yesterday, John Burn wrote that a number of Christchurch lawyers were concerned by Collins' decision as Chambers had never sat in Christchurch.

Collins said Chambers was "one of the most powerful intellectuals" in New Zealand's justice system and it was important for his significant contribution to be remembered.

"Lady Chambers attended the launch of the plans for the precinct and is very appreciative that her late husband's legacy is to be remembered in this way," she said.

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