13 Apr 2010

Law change considered in wake of Waihopai attack

9:10 am on 13 April 2010

The Government is to look at whether there should be a law change following the attack on the Waihopai spy base.

Three men admitted slashing the dome-shaped cover of a 30-metre-high satellite dish at the base in Marlborough in 2008 but were acquitted by a Wellington jury in March this year.

The men argued that their actions were justified by the greater good of saving lives of people in Iraq and that the Waihopai base contributes to torture and war.

The Government had signalled a review might happen if no appeal was lodged on the case.

Last week, Solicitor-General David Collins announced there would be no appeal and on Monday Justice Minister Simon Power confirmed that work would begin on a review.

Officials will look at the Crimes Act and the "claim of right" defence used by the three men, and whether it should be amended.

Mr Power says it is complex and detailed law, and he should have some preliminary advice in two months.

Green Party MP Keith Locke says the defence is well-established internationally and the review is unnecessary.

Associate Professor Bill Hodge of Auckland University's law faculty says the Government should hesistate to change a "fundamental legal principle" in reaction to one unpopular jury decision.