What a backward system the NZ Compensation for the wrongfully imprisoned is shown to be. This week we learn that Teina Pora is awarded 2.52 million for 20 years of wrongful imprisonment that started when he was a teenage boy. Yesterday, I heard the Prime Minister and separately the Minister of Justice Amy Adams explaining that there might be changes in the future to reflect inflation and the cost of living when considering what they say is the base payment for false imprisonment is - $100,000 per year. Amy Adams, and I think John Key spoke about not wanting to be unfair to other claimants that received payments in the past, Well hello, this compensation claim is about Pora and nobody else. He was the one tried twice with false evidence who spent the longest of any prisoner so far incarcerated by almost 10 years. He was the also the youngest of that group serving life imprisonment.
I'm not quite sure the worst feature of this blow to Pora. I think it might be both the Prime Minister and Amy Adams pretending that change to the compensation system is difficult. Well lets think about that a minute. When reading up on Compensation in NZ its important to remember that the Government do it along the lines of a set of rules they make up themselves. Sometimes, without notice to the applicant. That happened this year in the Bain case, the Government slipped in a 'new' test without notice to David Bain who has already been 7 years waiting for compensation for 7 years and who had to go to Court to review an earlier botched application that was leaked to the press before his Lawyers were even told. I had my memory jogged earlier today when reading about David Dougherty awarded $800,000 for approximately 4 years for a crime he didn't commit. The Minister of Justice at the time was Doug Graham, Sir Doug to his mates. He obviously had an arithmetic problem because Dougherty got $200,000 per year. Doug had no problems with changing the rules so he pulled a new one out of the hat and Dougherty had to take Doug's decision to the High Court. So these are 2 examples where the rules were changed on a whim.
Thinking about this further it becomes plain the Government are far from neutral on paying out Compensation, they confuse themselves with Crown Law and the Police. In the first instance I have a suggestion for an immediate change and expedient. No Crown Law or Police involvement in Compensation - they are after all the parties at the forefront of false imprisonments. A second thing to throw out would be Government involvement. Looked how messed up the Royal Prerogative of Mercy has become. Back in the 1990s the NZ Law Commission recommended automatic compensation which the Government of the day rejected, going on instead to make itself a ruler above the Courts. That of course has changed, brought about by the Bill of Rights that recognises foremost a citizens right's come above powers deigned upon Governments by Governments themselves. The English chucked out this crap with the signing of the Magna Carta on which our Law is based except for the quaint and horribly abused Prerogative Powers of Compensation and Mercy.
If not convinced by the dog's breakfast that the compensation system has become reflect on how much spent and how long the Bain compensation has rolled on and who the main opposition are - yes Crown Law and Police backed by Government trying to get at least a single tick for a travesty of Justice against the late Margaret, Arawa, Laniet and Stephen Bain - 2 of those deceased attacked in death by a Crown case that Margaret was bedridden and odd while her daughter Laniet had been driven to prostitution by the father who killed her. Did they never consider what made a vibrant and happy woman bed ridden and afraid that her husband would kill her and her children? I estimate 6 million on the fight to avoid paying David Bain and 50 million for the false case brought against him and the gutless retrial that ensued after the Privy Council said that David Bain's conviction was an 'actual Miscarriage of Justice' - something lost on Police, Crown Law and the Government of the day.
So what will this humble man Pora do? I have no idea, part of me wants him to fight on while another says he has fought enough - in fact his entire life. This child like man who would not bow down to the prison authorities in order to gain his freedom for a crime New Zealand, knew for over a decade at least, that he had not committed. Whatever his decision, the man has backbone and honesty grown from that bewildered kid whose life was stolen away by a cop called Rutherford who deliberately turned off his bullshit detector and put a boy in prison.