7 Oct 2010

Waihopai civil action given better chance of succeeding: lawyer

3:27 pm on 7 October 2010

A defence lawyer says civil action against three men who attacked the Waihopai spybase has a better chance of succeeding than a criminal case that failed.

Peter Murnane, Adrian Leason, and Sam Land were acquitted by a jury in the Wellington District Court in March of vandalising the spybase at Blenheim in 2008.

The Crown did not appeal the verdict, but has now filed papers in the High Court at Wellington, seeking to recover $1 million in damages.

Law Society criminal law sub committee convenor Jonathan Krebs says the test in a civil court is lower than that required in a criminal one.

Given that the trio did not dispute causing the damage, Mr Krebs says it's difficult to see what hurdles the Crown will have to overcome to prove its case.

The Green Party says the Government is trying to save face.

MP Keith Locke says the suit is a waste of taxpayers' money. He says the case will be hindered by the bureau's refusal to admit the spybase operates on behalf of the United States government.