22 Oct 2010

Wool grower group waiting for outcome of legal case

1:45 pm on 22 October 2010

A group of specialist wool growers whose long-running legal case over wool levies led to Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson's resignation are still waiting for an outcome to their case.

Justice Wilson has been under investigation for alleged misconduct relating to conflicts of interest. His resignation was announced on Thursday.

He was one of the Court of Appeal judges who had overturned a High Court decision that had been made in favour of a saxon sheep breed group.

The group had been seeking compensation from the former Wool Board for its refusal to help the group to fund its marketing plans.

The Saxmere group's subsequent application to the Supreme Court, raising the issue of a possible conflict of interest over Justice Wilson's business relationship with a Wool Board lawyer, led to the judicial inquiry and a decision to return the case to the Court of Appeal for a rehearing.

That took place at the end of June, and the Court of Appeal has still to release a decision.

One of the wool growers involved, Peter Radford of the Escorial wool company, says they are hoping to have a result soon.

He says for them the case has never been about Justice Wilson, but about recovering wool levy money which they say the former Wool Board used to fund rivals in the merino industry.

Meanwhile the manager of the company put in place to wind up the remaining business of the Wool Board is also hoping there will be a decision soon on the Court of Appeal re-hearing.

Roger Buchanan of the Disestablishment Company, says it's still holding more than seven million dollars of reserve funds on behalf of 13,000 sheep farmers.

They would be entitled to a share of any money left over, once the legal dispute is finally resolved.