7 Apr 2010

Crown may seek damages against spy base trio

10:03 pm on 7 April 2010

The Solicitor-General says the Crown will consider seeking $1.1 million in damages from activists acquitted of intentionally damaging the cover of the Waihopai satellite dish.

However, David Collins has decided that it is not possible to appeal against the court decision.

In March, a jury in Wellington cleared Dominican friar Peter Murnane, Adrian Leason and Sam Land of the charge.

Prime Minister John Key said at the time the Government may take a closer look at the defence used by the men, who argued that they acted for the greater good of saving lives in Iraq.

Dr Collins says the Crown is limited in its ability to appeal against not guilty verdicts, but it will now look at the possibility of seeking damages from the trio.

To win an appeal, it would be up to the Crown to prove that the men believed their actions were illegal, he says.

Dr Collins has recommended that Justice Minister Simon Power look at whether a law change is necessary in case similar situations arise in the future.

Father Murnane says he and fellow activists would use any civil case against them to tell the public about the unjust activities carried out at the spy base.

Father Murnane told Checkpoint they do not like the idea of a future lawsuit, but it would be another public platform. He maintains the Waihopai base helps to pass on information that leads to the torture of people in Iraq.