What a unique situation in New Zealand, the father of a murder victim willing to go and meet her alleged killer in prison because of doubts the father had while attending the trial after which Watson was convicted.
In some ways Gerald Hope has been in the background as debate over Watson's convictions continue. But in the article below Hope confirms his willingness to meet with Watson. He has reservations however about Watson's media champion Mike White being present because Hope maintains he has questions to ask more relevant than those Mike White may choose to raise. Many will agree that is a very good point. Some, possibly like me, would feel any conditions surrounding the meeting took fore mostly Hope's conditions into account and that he should be applauded for his courage in admitting doubts about the convictions of Watson. It's my opinion that the 2 men should met alone if both so decide, other than that no conditions should be added.
Watson finds himself in a precarious situation that Hope may confirm a belief that Watson is guilty rather than innocent after the meeting. It's more than likely most people have already made decisions about Watson's guilt or innocence. One might think this would be an opportunity for Watson to grasp, in a firm and measured way, matched by the innocence he claims. I appreciate the cautionary note by which Watson and his family might treat such a meeting but I wonder why?
Surely Scott's family accept that Scott can explain himself, won't be tripped up by a man concerned that he should learn the truth. There has been an interesting public revelation since a meeting between Hope and Watson was first discussed. Foremost would be from the 'secret tapes' that while the Watson family were of the view that Gerald was from the flourishing side of the tracks, they also considered, at least early on, that his daughter was not dead but would turn up again. I think that is clear, there seems little reason for the Watson family to be concerned that Scott cannot answer questions from Gerald without their or Mike White's presence.
Overall though, there is little doubt that the Watson family have been pilloried by the media in general, not least by Ian Wishart in his recent book Elementary that was less valid about Wishart's claim that Watson was guilty that it intended to be. Wishart overlooked some of the details of his own research, completely misinterpreting the impact of the secret tapes, showing clear bias in his repetitive conclusions regarding witness identity confusion, also that Watson was well known by police, and therefore others in the Sounds area from where Olivia Hope and Ben Smart disappeared over a decade and a half ago. Though by far the biggest oversight was Wishart trying to sell the tapes as something other than what they were because the tapes did not disclose that the Watson family were closing ranks around their son Scott knowing he was guilty but rather because they believed he was innocent.
That Gerald Hope still wants to meet Watson discloses that if he read the Wishart book released earlier this year that it did not serve the author's intention to convince the public that Watson was guilty as the book concluded. I don't think Watson has anything to hide, Wishart has dug the dirt on him and made it public. That because one result of the book was to highlight that when Watson had allegedly kidnapped or duped the couple to come on board his boat Watson, despite the clear opportunity of discovery, went aboard another vessel to which his yacht was tied, waking the couple on board and wanting them to party early on the morning of new year's day. No person with nefarious intent or something to hide would have drawn attention to himself in that way because it invited sure discovery.
With that background, and Gerald Hope's obvious misgivings about the Watson conviction I'm sure many would agree that the 2 men getting together offered a sign that Gerald Hope has reservations about Watson's guilt to the point he wants to meet him, ask him questions, get a sense of the man privately. If he should come away convinced or less convinced of Watson's guilt or innocence - which ever way it might go, Watson should not only understand the expected scrutiny, but arguably look forward to being truthful if he is indeed innocent. What an odd situation in the NZ Justice System, it will be of credit to the Justice Department to co-operate in the 2 men meeting, it would benefit a father who has lost his youngest child, it would be human in a process that has been quite inhuman in many ways, not least that despite what many would agree was a situation that resulted in a trial by media and police statements long before Watson was even arrested, and since - one man near the center of things has doubts he would like to attempt to satisfy.
If I could extend any message to the Watson family and Mike White it would be encourage Scott Watson to meet Gerald Hope and Gerald Hope's terms, accept that he is a grieving father and that Scott has nothing to hide from him, not least sympathy for his situation.