Friday, June 10, 2016

Further reflections on Wishart's book Elementary

Thinking about this book and looking between the lines Wishart has written Elementary with a probable bias that he has either been unable to disguise,  hasn't thought of or just doesn't care. His position as a journalist doesn't make sense because he has let his bias colour every step of the progress of the book.

He, as I've written before, has exhausted the identifications of Watson to the point of worthlessness, but fails to recognise that the lack of clarity of the identifications clears Watson. He attacked the witnesses who withdrew positive identifications, didn't even bother to interview them to capture the passage of time to the present. In fact, he didn't deal with a point that is clearly a concern that goes to the heart of Watson's conviction - witness recantation which was at least worth a chapter or 2 in the book. This inquiry to bring at least a little balance to his work begs the question of whether the investigative journalist could have at least attempted to re-interview the witnesses in the presence of independent observers. Also taken a look, maybe just a chapter, at Kristy McDonald's report into Watson's rejected plea under the Prerogative of Mercy. Well no he couldn't, not even a single word about that. Instead layers and layers of scorn upon the witnesses and not a  mention on the process of Law. It didn't matter that Wishart didn't like the witnesses, what did matter was those witnesses in the context of this case no longer offer support for the Crown's weak circumstantial case. In the absolute context of why Watson was found guilty it is because there was evidence of him going aboard his vessel with the deceased couple. Independent proof of that was argued by the Crown to be 2 hairs found on blanket taken from Watson's boat which apparently match the hereditary line of Olivia Hope, in other words may have belonged to one or other the Hope daughters. An analyst, like Wishart claims to be, would have been interested in that - want to pull it apart very carefully to reach a view, without a preconceived bias. He would have looked at the known facts as to the 2 hairs and tested their probability of having come from the Watson yacht at all. To do so they (the hairs) would have to have had overcome a search of Watson's yacht by police when the yacht was seized. I think we all understand that police searches of potential homicide scenes are critically exercised, items photographed before being disturbed, the whole scene carefully regarded, recorded in minute detail before a single item is moved. The first people in are the forensic specialists. Watson's yacht didn't contain a dangerous gunman, a fugitive, an explosive device - it was simply a moored vessel for which the police had a warrant to search and seize. All the time in the world was available to the investigators but not a single 1 of them saw 2 distinctive longs hairs on a blanket among the few blankets on board. Neither did the forensic scientist who carefully scanned the blanket in a laboratory find the hairs. In fact they appear to have been quite invisible until after a hairs from a brush were brought into the laboratory from the Hope family home.

Why didn't Wishart deal with that you may wonder. Or the second leg of the 3 legged race that is the Watson conviction - that he was seen by 2 bar staff and a water taxi driver with the couple. In fact more, been identified as being dropped of to his yacht with Olivia Hope and Ben Smart , along with the fact that all the witnesses withdrew their identifications of Watson after the trial - with claims of being misled by police photographs and identikit pictures. Instead of pages and pages about what people saw or didn't see, couldn't Wishart have dealt with the withdrawn identification witnesses in a more constructive way than attacking them for a wild and inconceivable thought they were possibly helping Watson. To substantiate my claim, read again the character assassination by Wishart of Guy Wallace and the complete silence on the third witness from the bar staff who did not identify Watson at any stage. If he wasn't biased he could have spelt that out in Elementary, a book which an unsuspecting reader would initially think the purpose of which was not to ignore facts and probabilities of all the evidence. If the jury who convicted Watson hadn't heard the evidence that the 3 witnesses withdraw - would they have convicted Watson. Hardly, because they couldn't put the couple together with Watson either in the bar, let alone on his yacht. A concrete unmovable fact that McDonald should have reached in her report under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy - a single point that demanded a retrial.

So to the 3rd pivotal evidence against Watson, the prison informer. As a investigative journalist it must be the case that Wishart has forgotten about the value of prison informers. Most people understand that prison informers are giving evidence about something they were not part of, in return for some payment. They did not of course witness the crime or crimes but fortunately by some crossing of the stars, reading cards, or taking part in seances, hearing things spoken in sleep or through prison bars - to a willing witness for sale by a person who they don't know but felt the urge to confess to them. Surely Ian is onto that. He was in the Tamihere case but he has apparently since fallen into sleep. I would thought Ian wanted to look into that evidence and determine it's prejudicial weight against Watson, a story intended to move if not a whole country then at least a jury. Maybe it did convince a jury, at least in part but now it is withdrawn - an absolute fact that weakens the Crown case immeasurably. In fact breaks the third leg that falsely upholds the Watson conviction.

On that point, and as I have written before, Kirsty McDonald rejected the recantation of the secret witness because she could not find him. If there was a list of travestys of Justice that would rate near the top. It was not Watson's witness it was the Crown's witness and it was for the Crown to stand by their case and present the witness to Kirsty McDonald for an interview and have Watson's defence team present. The best place for that would have been the High Court before a Judge.

But McDonald, like Wishart, ignored that and the onus on the Crown to prove the durability of their case when cracks appear. That is the essence of Mercy and due process. McDonald like Wishart failed to step back from the evidence and apply even a basic probability test on the new evidence of Watson both singularly and collectively. In fact neither of them tested the 3 core areas of the Watson conviction using a most simple technique, the probability of the deceased couple ever being on Watson's yacht, the probability of the 2 hairs ever being on Watson's yacht, the probability of a witness completely withdrawing a claim of hearing a confession that was 'true,' along with the probability of the original confession being true at all. In this particular aspect it is important to note that Wishart knew the formula of false confessions most graphically. He studied the Tamihere case and discovered the graphic evidence of Witness C which reduced the Jury to tears as C revealed what he claimed Tamihere had revealed to him. Later when one of the bodies was found ashore and not at sea as C had claimed the COA fudged the importance of a known fact - that C had lied convincingly enough to persuade a Jury with all sorts of imagined horrific details relating to the missing tourists, an elegant and sophisticated in detail and emotion - liar. Shift forward a few years and the same sort of witnesses emerge in the Watson case. Why on earth Wishart ignores that can only provide 1 reason because he set out with a bias in mind when he wrote Elementary.

Pausing with that thought for a minute, it supports the Crown for those challenging the Watson conviction to get away from the 3 main issues into side issues where arguments labour far away from the only 3 reasons why Watson was found guilty. Wishart has added to that, no doubt to the delight of Crown Law and the police.

I'm sure Ian would have, or is capable of addressing both sides of the Watson case, instead of totally ignoring one side while providing full support for the Crown which no longer has id witnesses, retains only forensic evidence of low, perhaps zero, probability of being authentic, and a shattered production line of witnesses paid to lie about an event they never saw - an event they only need to imagine aided by prompts by police newspaper or radio reports. A very dirty business which both Wishart and McDonald chose to ignore. Surely, McDonald understands that it is the Crown's witness who has failed to maintain their testimony and that if the Crown cannot longer produce those witness then a new Jury is in order.

If Ian decides to get off his yoga mat, put the celestial travel on hold, overcome his personal and evident distaste of Scott Watson in order to bring a evident measure to his impartial 'judgement' on Watson, contemplate if what he wrote was not understood as investigative, instead read as written in a biased way and not deeply reasoned way - then Ian might respond in order to help resolve the Watson case. I invite Ian to comment on the 3 main aspects of Watson's conviction in a direct way on the points I have raised. That would help.

In closing I should mention a facebook site set up in support of Watson and information there about Wishart allegedly threatening legal retribution against the site owners. If that is true Wishart has truly lost the plot and appears desperate to be believed on the basis of opinions which are not believable merely because Wishart thinks Watson is a prize prick. So I also invite Ian to take up the challenge of helping organise and finance a neutral application of a Bayes theory test on the 3 legs that support, most awkwardly, the Watson conviction, let science and logic into the tent. I would even be prepared to bet that the probability of each of the three aspects of the conviction would rate a less than say 30%  probability of accuracy taken in the overall case, and the collective probability to be less than 20% that Scott Watson is guilty. To go a step further perhaps Ian could agree to match say 10cents to the dollar of any 'crowd funding' or funding gathered by the Watson support group toward reviewing the abysmal work of Kristy McDonald under its guise of 'Mercy.'



  1. That is indeed true that we have been threatened with defamation action and would bankrupt the four of us if we did not stop every poster from questioning his motivation etc The founding administrator. a young single mother withdrew as an admin rather than try to censor the group Mr Wishart was a member of the group right up until the publication of the E1 when we agreed to block him from posting but made the decision to leave the group public so all can post unless blocked. We want to all to see our view and welcome constructive criticism.

  2. I think Ian is going through a bit of bad patch. Perhaps he's not feeling comfortable that the thin veneer covering his bias against Watson was going to be so easily seen in Elementary. Whatever the case, he's bright enough to know that his threats have undermined the book further. I, for what little it is worth, encourage the group to continue to support Watson. Ian has not established any reason do not do otherwise, unfortunately has exposed that by saying silly stuff. Again, for what little it is worth, I offer my full support to the groups founding administrator including encouraging her to continue on with the group in the commendable way she has in the past.


  3. ever since my wife and i started reading about the disappearance of Ben and Olivia and the process that ended with Scott Watson arrested and tried - we have been really concerned at what seems to be a giant brain washing - starting with the rumour mill and a pretence that 'there were no suspects' while Watson was set up, through to the ridiculous photo montages that should have been illegal, as untruths were told by police (Watson had cut his hair, or no one had seen the other mystery man) it was divide and rule - not allowing witnesses to know that other's like them may have had doubts about Watson's identity. as for the ketch not existing - the new research by msrs Jenness, Kalaugher and Hunter (webpage address below), seems to be at last unlocking one of the main mysteries in this case that would exonerate Watson and finally vindicate the testimony of the much maligned water taxi driver Wallace. cheers jc

  4. Certainly Pope worked on the public and the potential Jury long before they were empanelled. Watson was singled out and treated unfairly from the beginning. We don't know the full extent of that singling out but the secret witnesses read from a script designed to be the most prejudicial it could possibly be. How this type of evidence survives in the 21st Century amazes me, and it should not be forgotten that one of those witnesses recanted after which McDonald claimed not to be able to find him - well, fairness says that with the Crown's witnesses no longer prepared to identify Watson as being with the couple, a witness to a 'confession' recanting that this case should go back to a Jury, no less. The Crown and K McDonald have exploited and stood all over Watson's rights under TBORA to a fair trial - he's never had one going right back to Pope's dirty campaign against him, painting him guilty before even being arrested.

    Keep up the good work.