Tuesday, August 02, 2016


Today, after thirteen years of imprisonment, a privy council appeal, a retrial, an acquittal, two independent reports, and a Judith Collins-orchestrated hatchet job and smear campaign, the government has finally awarded David Bain $925,000 in compensation. Good. As I've repeatedly said, I have no opinion on Bain's guilt or innocence - crime news bores me shitless. But the fact that he was imprisoned and then acquitted makes that imprisonment wrongful and deserving of compensation whether he did it or not. In this country, the state must meet certain standards in order to deprive a person of their liberty. In Bain's case, and countless others, they didn't. And that is wrong and something the government needs to be strongly incentivised against.

The compensation package falls well short of the recommended $100,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment, let alone pecuniary losses and court costs. And that's without even getting into the additional case for compensation created by Judith Collins' malfeasance in office, which effectively denied Bain his right to justice. But I can understand the desire to settle and get it over with, on both parties. Bain's future was effectively being held hostage by the state. Meanwhile, Judith Collins had created an oozing legal sore for the government that threatened further embarrassment and damages. It's Bain's prerogative to accept less than he is owed, and I guess now he can get on with his life.

Meanwhile, now that this is over, we need to make sure it doesn't happen again. That means a Criminal Cases Review Commission to review dubious verdicts and free those who are victims of wrongful conviction. It also means removing politicians - who have clearly shown that they cannot be trusted - from the compensation process and replacing it with a statutory scheme. Because justice is too important to be left to the likes of Judith Collins.