The resurrection tour of disgraced Supreme Court Justice Bill Wilson (pictured) swings back into action with an interview scheduled to run on TVNZ‘s weekly Court Report program 16 June. Despite the actual interview not scheduled until 14 June, it is being touted as one of explosive revelations, with criminal defence lawyer-host Greg King bragging on facebook he could sell tickets.
Supreme Court Justice Wilson resigned last October amid revelations he ruled in favour of his bank (BNZ) and business partner (Alan Galbraith QC) when on the Court of Appeal. Since then, Wilson has given one interview – to his lawyer’s wife, Deborah Coddington of the NZ Herald – where he claimed he had done nothing wrong and chastised the government Ministers for not rushing to his defence. Though Wilson has since told friends he intends to expose the widespread partisanship of his erstwhile judicial colleagues which proved his indiscretions tame in comparison, do not look for the King interview to expose any secrets, despite its billing.
One reason is Wilson has been paid buckets full of money to remain quiet. In addition to the well-publicised million dollar payout that precipitated his resignation from New Zealand’s highest court, kiwisfirst was tipped off that Wilson is also receiving large government superannuation payments. However, in response to an Official Information Act request, the government has refused to disclose the amount, citing privacy as the reason why taxpayers cannot know how much of their money Wilson is getting.
Notwithstanding this ongoing largesse, Wilson understands his agreed silence cannot be enforced since confidentiality agreements are not enforceable to cover up criminal activity. The former judge has been reservedly astute in playing this card. Consequently, judges and his Queen’s Counsel mates are falling over Wilson to placate him and bring him back into the fold. Powerful QC’s such as James Farmer and Colin Carruthers reportedly have his ear, but his relationship with one-time great mate (Chief Justice) Sian Elias is by all accounts still strained. While Elias was as supportive of Wilson as practical through the ordeal, it still rubs at Wilson that Elias’ was guilty of much more egregious offending, yet has come out above the fray.
Meanwhile, Green List MP Dr Kennedy Graham’s bill which would require judges disclose their pecuniary interests is in Committee, bogged down by political infighting and recent events in Christchurch. Attorney General Chris Finlayson has proposed an alternative legislative overhaul to the Judicature Act, quietly telling judges on the powerful Rules Committee that they will be allowed to write what effectively will be a Clayton’s Act as to how they conduct themselves if he has his way. This approach fits with Prime Minister John Key’s attempt to promote New Zealand as a corrupt-free zone for international investors, along the line of Singapore. The Prime Minister has repeatedly told his ministers that exposing judicial corruption is off limits as it will undermine public confidence.
New Zealand is virtually unique in the world’s democracies in refusing to consider corruption exists or implementing processes to look for it. As kiwisfirst reported twice in the last two years, Transparency International New Zealand receives 1% of its funding from memberships and more than 90% from the NZ government on the proviso it focuses its work off shore on the smaller Pacific island nations. Several of TINZ’s New Zealand directors are government employees who also run consultancy firms which specialise in obtaining government grants for their clients.