2 Jan 2014

Call for case review body

9:15 pm on 2 January 2014

Campaigners are trying to get a citizen's initiated referendum under way to persuade the Government to set up a Criminal Cases Review Commission in New Zealand.

A petition will be launched in February.

Calls for a commission were reignited in October last year when the Privy Council in London quashed the conviction of Mark Lundy for the murder of his wife Christine and daughter Amber. He is due to be retried in June this year.

Lynne Dempsey, who is seeking public support for the commission, says lay people as well as lawyers see a need for a commission - especially in light of cases such as those of Mark Lundy, Teina Pora and Scott Watson.

Ms Dempsey says appeal processes, such as the Governor-General's Prerogative of Mercy, almost never reverse convictions - even in cases where new evidence is presented.

Chris Gallavin, head of Canterbury University's Law School, says such a commission could review cases as well as acting as a watchdog.

Professor Gallavin says in its absence there is the risk of perverse court decisions, which feed the perception that police have either bungled cases or been unscrupulous.

However, Justice Minister Judith Collins says New Zealand already has a robust appeals process.