Keith and Margaret Berryman have accepted a settlement offer of $150,000 from the Attorney General after a 15 year struggle for justice against the NZ Army. The offer was apparently made last year and the Berryman’s were given 48 hours to accept it. The settlement notably did not include any costs for their lawyer, Dr Rob Moodie, who fought fiercely for 10 years in the Courts – and embarrassed the NZ government by exposing an unlawful cover-up and deception by key Crown officials in the process.
Dr Moodie had taken the case against the government pro bono. Mrs Berryman stated today she believed the Attorney General wanted to ensure Mr Moodie did not recover his costs, which included $50,000 in fines imposed personally against him, in retaliation for Moodie taking the case against the A-G. Moodie’s fight for recompense continues.
The Berrymans were initially found negligent after the 8 year old bridge to their property collapsed in 1994, killing a beekeeper who was driving across it and fell 30 metes to the river below. They were charged with not properly maintaining the bridge. It came to light later that the NZ Army had constructed the bridge of untreated, laminated wood; the catastrophic effect of which was covered up by the government in the official coroner’s inquest.
The Berrymans have admittedly settled for what they consider a grossly insufficient sum because of their advanced age and the Courts’ refusal to allow them to present their evidence in Court over many years. The financial settlement has not dampened their ongoing push for a commission of inquiry into the alleged impropriety by justice officials in the initial inquest.
Meanwhile, Dr Moodie has filed a private criminal prosecution against some of the Crown officials who covered up the Army’s culpability. It is understood that while the Berrymans spent 15 years to achieve a modicum of justice, many who unlawfully covered up the exculpatory evidence are now New Zealand Judges. These include Court of Appeal Justice Terrence Arnold, High Court Judge Timothy Brewer and District Court Judges Stephen Harrop and Christopher McGuire.