Saving Mr Banks – That Old Boy Magic Blinds Justice Again

To the few chaste court observers still believing New Zealand courts are just, even while they hide many rulings on grounds of john banksprivacy, this past week was a tsunami.

On 14 May, High Court Judge Pamela Andrews ruled in Comissioner of Police v Burgess that property, including “motor vehicles, a boat, a tractor, and household chattels” seized by police under a temporary restraining order since 2010 is not unreasonably withheld – even if any police application to seize will not be raised until six years later.  The Judge recorded that the previously patient woman-owner had abided by the annual extension of the police conversion until last year.

Days earlier, a six month old judgment in Q v Le was publicly released.  The Judge agreed that Police were wrong to charge a Vietnamese woman with 16 counts in relation to a drug dealing operation, including contriving evidence of the woman’s alleged involvement, yet found, “I would not say that the Crown or prosecution here has failed to act in good faith, but I would say that the investigation was not conducted in a reasonable and proper manner and on that I agree with Mr Deliu.”  Victim saved, Crown victimizer saved – Gangnam style.

Then there is the “Saving Mr Banks” ruling of the Court of Appeal which concluded the Crown was so misplaced in convicting the former mayor of Auckland and Epsom MP John Banks of electoral fraud that it recalled its own judgment quashing the Auckland High Court conviction, to now include a bar on retrial after it was announced Crown Law would seek a retrial.

The Court of Appeal claimed the Crown’s confusion as to the days when Mr Banks asked Mega-upload Titan-turned-Titanic Kim Dotcom to make out two $25,000 cheques to his campaign in order to avoid disclosure of where the contribution was coming hog-lied any ability to now alter times and dates.  In what the smarter sheep immediately recognised was an attempt to provide a blanket of cover, the Court of Appeal ruled, “[28] We are satisfied that there has been a serious error of process. It is, we accept, attributable to an error of judgment rather than misconduct.”   Banks clean, prosecution that ‘wrongfully’ convicted him clean, justice done – Gangnam style.

Dotcom tweeted in response, “(Banks) asked for a donation. I offered $50,000.  He asked for 2 cheques.  To keep it anonymous I signed 2 checks.  He knew I donated.  He thanked me for it.  5 witnesses confirmed under oath.  A technicality gets him off.  One law for them.  One law for us.  A great day for John Banks.  A bad day for justice.”

Interestingly, no one other than Mr Banks disagrees with these facts aside from the day and time.  Two American businessman provided affidavits saying the donation was not discussed at a lunch they had with Banks and Dotcom.   That was enough for the Court of Appeal to bar retrial of Banks, with the Americans safely offshore and their evidence untested.  Do not speak of the similar “alleged” conversation Mr Banks had regarding donations from Sky City.  He was never charged with that.

Footnote: Banks was initially prosecuted privately by Graham McCready after the Police and Crown refused to do so.  Crown Law took over the prosecution only after a judge signed the warrant and the NZ sheep-press began to question why the retired accountant on a fixed income needed to do the government’s job.

In a 21 May 2015 judgment, Wellington Judge David Collins ruled in another Police prosecution “All remaining charges based upon evidence obtained after 1 June 2010 are stayed because allowing the trials to continue would undermine public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system.”    Those 7 defendants had the Judge accepting criminal conduct by Police, recording “Mr Lithgow QC, senior counsel for Mr Jones, suggested the police may also have perverted the course of justice when engaging in the false warrant and prosecution scenario.  (Police Counsel) Mr Webber did not challenge the suggestion that the police conduct may have amounted to serious criminal offending.”  Nonetheless, the unflappable Collins ruled “It is not my intention or function to use this proceeding to punish the police”.  Seven pitiful dotes being the victims of criminal Crown conduct which does not warrant a condemnation from a judge.  Another day in paradise.