7 May 2010

Inquiry into complaint about judge warranted - law expert

8:07 pm on 7 May 2010

The Judicial Conduct Commissioner had no other choice but to recommend further investigation into a complaint about Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson, a law lecturer says.

Sir David Gascoigne has recommended that a Judicial Conduct Panel look into the matter, saying there are questions about the extent of Justice Wilson's disclosures and contestable matters of judgement.

There is a court appeal over whether Justice Wilson should have presided over a case, when he was a judge at the Court of Appeal, in which one of his business partners in a racing horse venture was a lawyer for one of the parties.

Justice Wilson did not disclose that he owed the lawyer $250,000 until after an initial Supreme Court appeal on the matter.

Associate law professor Bill Hodge, from Auckland University, says the disparity in what the two men had paid into the business was a clear obligation.

"And to the extent that it was a real obligation, then he was beholden and it wasn't simply a shared interest in horse flesh. It was a serious obligation and, therefore, what was said could be seen to be misleading and deceptive, and that is a very important point."

The Government will consider whether a Judicial Conduct Panel investigates the complaint, which may warrant Justice Wilson's removal from the Supreme Court.