Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An abuse of suppression

The Herald reports that National MP Chester Borrows is to stand trial for allegedly running over a protestor's foot. Which seems fair enough - people in cars have a duty to be careful using them, and it seems like there's at least a case to answer. But what's really surprising is this:

Borrows, who is also Parliament's deputy Speaker, had pleaded not guilty.

He appeared in the Whanganui District Court last month when the judge, on his own motion, suppressed all evidence and argument in relation to the charge.

Which invites the obvious question: what's the reason for this? Borrows isn't a minor, there's no significant privacy interest, the events have been widely reported on. Instead, it simply looks like the judge is trying to spare someone powerful, a former Minister for the Courts, from additional public embarrassment. But that's not what the court's suppression powers are for, and their abuse in this fashion undermines the social licence for suppression throughout the entire justice system.