Thursday, June 09, 2022

There needs to be accountability for this

Yesterday the Supreme Court quashed Alan Hall's conviction for murder, declaring it was a miscarriage of justice. In doing so, the Chief Justice found that "such departures from accepted standards must either be the result of extreme incompetence or of a deliberate and wrongful strategy to secure conviction" - effectively, that the police stitched up an innocent man.

To their credit, the Solicitor-General has responded appropriately to this, announcing an investigation into all crown lawyers involved. Given the length of time that has elapsed, many of them may have moved on, but you would hope there will be some declaration of how this happened, and how crown law failed to prevent it. And you'd hope that anyone still employed or alive found to have failed in their duty or knowingly misled the court will be fired, struck off, or prosecuted accordingly.

But given the nature of the misconduct - coercive and oppressive interviews and doctoring of witness statements - you'd expect the bulk of the blame would lie with the police. And you'd expect after such a declaration from the Chief Justice, the Independent Police Conduct Authority would be rapidly putting together an investigation of their own. So are they? Of course not:

Police declined to speak and the Police Association was not commenting on the case.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority and Justice Minister Kris Faafoi did not respond to RNZ's questions on Wednesday.

This isn't good enough. We're looking at a police failure on the scale of Arthur Allan Thomas, and there needs to be accountability for it. If the police and their captive "oversight" body won't do it, then we need the Thomas solution: an independent, external inquiry to get to the bottom of things, and make sure it can never happen again.