Flawed Hero Advances Rule of Law in New Zealand

 Graham McCready faces battles of all fronts

‘My name is Graham and I am an alcoholic’ is something Graham McCready says at least once each day. This pensioner and “Wharfie’s son from Thorndon” – as he likes to refer to himself – rarely misses catching a bus into Wellington for his daily AA meeting. Given his successes at exposing failures in the NZ police and Crown Law, and recent run for councillor in Wellington’s Eastern wards, it is a wonder how he finds the time as well as a testament to his convictions.

Of late McCready has become well known as the private prosecutor given the green light by an Auckland District Court Judge to criminally prosecute Act Party leader John Banks for filing false electoral finance reports – after the NZ police and Crown Law had refused to prosecute.

Previously his successes included private prosecution of Labour MP Trevor Mallard for assault and advocating pensioners housing claims in Tenancy Tribunals. As a result of his chosen path he has been vilified as an attention seeking criminal and lauded as a champion for the rule of law in a system governed by partisanship.

Last week, under mounting public pressure, Solicitor General Michael Heron announced Crown Law would take over prosecution of Mr Banks from the New Zealand Private Prosecution Service which McCready fronts.

The reversal is a huge embarrassment, highlighting the political influences which often give connected criminals the wink from Crown Law and Police. Heron waivered but was ultimately humiliated by McCready’s public protestations his $80 computer and pensioner earnings left him financially disadvantaged in continuing to prosecute Banks whose high-priced Queen’s Counsel has already filed countless motions to stall the proceedings.

In contrast to their position regarding Banks, Police last month filed a criminal prosecution against NZPPS director John Creser for assault of Court of Appeal Registrar Clare O’Brien. Ms O’Brien, a former cop, complained Mr Creser laid his hands on her when serving her with court papers on behalf of a client. No injury was claimed.

Neither is McCready immune. Last year he was convicted of blackmail after he made a settlement offer to a powerful Wellington businessman on behalf of several accounting clients to vote the businessman’s proxy in exchange for not pursuing a claim. The case remains subject of blanket court suppression orders. McCready’s evidence that the businessman had committed a fraud in failing to provide a prospectus and misrepresenting contracts to his franchisees is suppressed by multiple court orders – with the most recent one by Justice Collins taken on the judge’s own initiative. Police who prosecuted McCready for attempted blackmail have so far refused to prosecute the fraud.

Despite the stress of routinely seeing corrupt officials being protected and those who expose them prosecuted, McCready rarely appears chagrin. He enjoys spending considerable time buying surplus computers on-line, repairing them in his 50 square metre Miramar apartment, and then donating them to local schools. He sees it as a chance to help people as well as make up for past failures in his own life. The struggles of his youth, his father striking for collective bargaining rights on the docks of Wellington and his personal experience that those in power are often not held accountable are lessons he clings to in his quest to make society better for the average citizen.