Goodfella judges – Peter Goodfellow

National Party president Peter Goodfellow divorced

In another New Zealand justice story not reported, Richlister and National Party President Peter Goodfellow (pictured) finalised his divorce from his wife of 24 years in December and married his long-time girlfriend last month.

peter goodfellowPeter’s new wife’s wedding band ($7,000) cost more than his ex-wife received in the divorce ($0).  Truth be told, it was worse than that.  The ex-wife was ordered to pay some of Peter’s legal costs.   This being New Zealand, court suppression orders suppress the mention of case suppression orders to keep the court proceedings fair and tidy.

Along with his brother Bruce and 97 year-old father Douglas, the Goodfellows are reported by the National Business Review to be worth $500 million, but the figure is likely to be much higher because the family controls scores of trusts and companies through blind trusts and third party companies.  The Goodfellows made their money milking New Zealand and Douglas has demonstrated his benevolence by contributing hugely to Auckland University and St Kentigern School in Auckland after the NBR “outed” his vast wealth in the mid-1990s.

Peter Goodfellow’s five year divorce proceeding is a case study in New Zealand justice.  The drama started when Libby Black-Goodfellow became hooked on painkillers and went to the United States for specialist medical treatment for dependency.  After a few months Peter came back to New Zealand and “became poor”.   Peter, a qualified solicitor, often acted as his wife’s agent throughout their marriage.  When Libby returned to NZ in 2009, her name had been taken off the bank account.  Their $3 million Orakei home was in a trust, with a $600,000 mortgage.  Though his wife found notes Peter had scribbled on how he had devalued the companies they controlled jointly and gave away the valueless assets to various Goodfellow trusts, she had trouble getting her lawyer Maureen Southwick QC to make a fuss about it.  When Libby finally thought she had her lawyer on side, Attorney General (and National Party MP) Chris Finlayson appointed Ms Southwick a District Court Judge.

$270,000 poorer for the legal fees her father had mostly paid to that point, Libby rejected a $1.5 million divorce settlement from Peter.

Libby was told by lawyers and judges she had committed a cardinal offence by talking to the media.  She had a District Court judge ruling she was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of Peter, was ostracized in social circles by her soon-to-be ex and had to obtain money from her aged father to pay her electric bill (not an exaggeration), but she was not allowed to tell anyone.  Nor could she mention Peter’s lawyers sending an ex parte request to the Court asking for Family Court Judge Peter Bochier to be assigned the divorce case.  Old Boys are seldom so stupid as to put their corrupt requests in writing – this perhaps being the reason why Judge McHardy refused Peter’s request to pick his judge (at least in the first round).

However, it became clear NZ judges considered identification of corruption in the courts breached the sacrosanct shroud of justice, therefore, the greater offence.  In meetings where the parties and lawyers were sworn to secrecy, the judges lambasted anyone thought to be thinking about revealing what was happening within the hallowed – or was it ‘hollow’ – halls of the Court.

Meanwhile, Peter’s lawyer Deborah Hollings and her late husband Supreme Court Judge Robert Chambers were greasing the wheels of justice for their client (Lawyers in NZ either know this or not, and they will accordingly share it with family as yet another truth or condemn this statement as blasphemy).  Though the ink was still wet on the trust arrangements, no judge would dare say they were not authentic or that the assets Peter had toiled so feverishly to tuck away were not the useless rubbish Peter’s accountants said they were.

On one day during the acrimonious and protracted divorce, Libby saw her husband and girlfriend out walking what was Libby’s dog and she snatched the dog.  Crazy woman she is.  Peter finally had something his pit bull lawyer could sink her teeth in to.

The years wore on Libby Black-Goodfellow, as the weight of endless litigation, crooked judges and borrowing money from family to pay the bills had her almost longing for the halcyon days of an abused wife.

During this period Libby’s father, Hugo Black Jr, a prominent lawyer in the United States, expressed consternation to kiwisfirst over the parochial approaches by the courts in New Zealand, all the while believing the law was still valued because he had no reports this wasn’t the case in New Zealand.  Mr Black, aged 91, died last year, never learning the truth.

This is the beauty of New Zealand.  Kiwis live and die not having their lives inconvenienced by the knowledge that another abused woman has been financially raped by partisan and secret courts, courts routinely complicit in the most egregious acts.  The fear seems to be that if a little sunshine disinfectant were to illuminate these courtrooms, it might create a little indigestion.  Until the number of suicides exceed the potential cases of indigestion, Kiwis are fine with the status quo.  Kiwis already lead the world in suicides – another statistic the NZ press is strongly discouraged from reporting – which begs the question of how many cases of potential indigestion it is we need to top.

The final round of Black-Goodfellow v Goodfellow is due to play out in the New Zealand appellate court in July.  The verdict will decide whether “truth and open justice” or “respect for personal privacy” prevails.  But do not expect to hear about it.  The parties have been threatened with contempt if they disclose the date.  If it is listed on the court docket at all, it will be listed as “Z v Z” and there will be a sign on the courtroom door telling the public they are not welcome.   This is a pretty good clue as to which side the judge will fall.