1 Sep 2010

Retired judge's complaint 'based on hearsay'

7:15 pm on 1 September 2010

The lawyer for a Supreme Court judge has told the High Court a complaint made against his client by a retired Court of Appeal judge was based on hearsay and a breach of legal professional privilege.

Three judges are hearing a judicial review of a recommendation that a panel be established to investigate Justice Bill Wilson.

The Judicial Conduct Commissioner recommended the panel be convened after investigating statements Justice Wilson made to the Supreme Court about his business relationship with lawyer Alan Galbraith who appeared before him in a Court of Appeal case.

However, Justice Wilson's lawyer Colin Carruthers, QC, told the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday that matters raised about that in a complaint from retired judge Sir Edmund Thomas were contradicted by those directly involved in the business partnership.

Mr Carruthers said the High Court should set aside the commissioner's report, which would mean the Judicial Conduct Panel must also be set aside.

Mr Carruthers told the court Justice Wilson never owed money to Mr Galbraith and he no case to answer.

Mr Carruthers said the commissioner's investigation reveals no misbehaviour on Justice Wilson's part that could justify his removal from office.

Justice Wilson claims that the commissioner made several errors of law, including failing to identify the standard of misconduct that requires a judge's removal from office.

It was revealed on Wednesday that another complainant, who has had name suppression until now, was a Mr C J O'Neill, of Auckland.

The hearing is set down for three days.