Minister criticised over Ellis decision

21:10, Oct 14 2009

Peter Ellis' lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, has criticised Justice Minister Simon Power for rejecting a bid for a commission of inquiry into the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre case.

Power yesterday turned down the request from former National Party notables Don Brash and Katherine Rich and A City Possessed author Lynley Hood, mainly on grounds Ellis had not exhausted his Privy Council appeal options.

Ablett-Kerr said: "Will the minister please tell us whether he will hold a commission of inquiry if Peter Ellis gives up his Privy Council appeal? He needs to be upfront.

"If he answers that question, Peter will know exactly where he stands and he will be able to make the appropriate decision."

Ellis said he did not believe the case warranted going "overseas".

He would be prepared to forgo his rights to the Privy Council appeal if the Government ordered a commission of inquiry, or the Government could fund his appeal to the Privy Council.

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"I'm cross and devastated. I've done this for 18 years and I don't know if I've got another 18 in me," he said.

"My mum is 73 and she certainly doesn't have another 18 years. There is now a plethora of evidence the children at the creche were abused by the system, not the creche workers."

The decision was surprising given that Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and Police Minister Judith Collins had signed a 2003 petition calling for a commission of inquiry, he said.

A spokesman for Power said Ellis' appeal to the Privy Council was a statutory right that was "retained until heard".

Rich said the decision was "sadly predictable".

"It's interesting we're spending millions on a Supreme Court building but still directing people to the Privy Council, which I doubt Peter Ellis will be able to access because of the expense," she said.

"In the court of public opinion, Peter Ellis has already been pardoned."

The case was a fundamental demonstration of the justice system failing to correct itself, she said. "Every country has found a way to deal with those injustices."

Brash said he was surprised at the decision because the request was presented with such strong arguments and the 2003 petition had been signed by major figures.

"The New Zealand justice system has let Peter Ellis down and it should have been New Zealand that sorted it out."

Had he won the 2005 general election, a commission of inquiry would have been ordered, he said.

Hood said the Government's rejection of the request would mean the case would keep going around in circles.

The case began in 1991 and culminated in the police charging five creche workers, including Ellis, with sexual abuse offences. Only Ellis went to trial and he was convicted in 1993 on 16 charges of sexually abusing seven young children in his care at the creche. He was sentenced to 10 years jail and was released in 2000.

Three convictions were dismissed by the Court of Appeal after one of the child complainants recanted.

The Press