You Can’t Handle the Truth


The last month has been an active one.

Former police prosecutor Grace Haden was again in the District Court this week seeking to hold barrister Neil Wells at bay. Ms Haden was found guilty without trial in 2008 of defamation; the proceeding heard as “quantum only” after Ms Haden was debarred from defending. The most important court step of the substantive proceeding was skipped (in other law-based democracies plaintiff’s still have to prove their case even if the defendant is barred from defending).

Five years, three lawyers and at least eight court appearances have since failed to get one judge to look at the certain evidence Mr Wells had set up a sham charitable trust to personally siphon animal control fees off Waitakere District Council six years ago (the ‘defamatory lie’ Haden was convicted of telling).

Last year Haden filed an originating claim alleging the 2008 judgment was obtained by fraud, with new evidence from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry confirming the trust was a sham. This time District Judge Gibson did the shuffle, albeit less than gracefully, when ruling,

“I do not accept the documents obtained by the plaintiffs after the determination of the earlier proceeding could not have been obtained through the discovery procedure, and further even if the plaintiffs had the documents before the earlier hearing that would not have availed them as their statement of defence was struck out and they were debarred from defending the proceeding. They could only be heard on quantum.”  In short, even evidence proving the claim was a fraud is irrelevant.

Meanwhile, Marc Krieger and family, the consultant who this year blew the whistle on systemic corruption within the Earthquake Commission, is leaving New Zealand for the sanity of Europe, after being attacked by the government, then looking around and recognising New Zealand leads the world in shooting the truthful messenger.

Crown Law may have had their funding cut for criminal prosecutions, but the Attorney General is digging deep to go after Mr Krieger, although Crown Law have yet to figure out how to lawfully accomplish the mission. (Former-Solicitor-General-now-‘His Honour’) David Collins has so far refused to clarify his suppression order Collins’ former office is seeking to prosecute.

Lawyers also are being pursued with regularity for justly criticising the system. Last month, the most senior Queen’s Counsel in New Zealand, Dr Anthony Molloy QC, was fined $1,000 by the Law Society for stating in a press interview last year that judicial ineptitude born of a lack of specialisation was too often resulting in judgments which would be considered fraudulent anywhere else.

The sycophantic Law Society strategically imposed a fine small enough to avoid the busy barrister challenging it.  Any other lawyer would have been struck off for such candour, but the Law Society had a problem beyond Dr Molloy’s eminent status. Molloy let it be known he was prepared to rely on a prior phone call he received from Attorney General Chris Finlayson in which Finlayson expressed agreement with Molloy’s assessment, even if he took exception to his choice of word.

Publicly, however, Finlayson lambasted Molloy, virtually demanding he relinquish his QC title for criticising our exemplary system.

It is these “two faces of Chris” that set public policy and tolerance in New Zealand. Truth is admired so long as it remains in the smoke-filled back room among the good ol’ boys and does not expose misfeasance. Whistleblowers are free to blow the whistle but not if it tarnishes the image of those in power. And, significantly for our culture, it is the role of the Attorney General to crack the whip on the poor schmuck who violates this policy, to remind the public of our priorities.

Fortunately for Chris, the lawyers get it and the public remain too apathetic to care.