Justice Minister Amy Adams has declined a request from supporters of Peter Ellis for a Commission of Inquiry on the basis that an inquiry cannot be used to determine the liability of any person.
Mr Ellis was convicted in 1993 on multiple charges of sexual offending against children. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Since then, his convictions have been the subject of extensive consideration including two appeals, an inquiry by former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum and two overseas experts, and a 2003 petition to Parliament. In 2008, a similar request for a Commission of Inquiry was made to and rejected by former Justice Minister Simon Power.
“After careful consideration of the public interest and legal issues, I have decided to decline the request for an inquiry,” says Ms Adams.
“The new Inquiries Act 2013 is clear that a Commission of Inquiry is not an appropriate vehicle for inquiring into the correctness of a person’s convictions.”
Section 11 of the Inquiries Act expressly states that an inquiry has no power to determine the criminal liability of any person.
“Furthermore, the request is almost identical to the one made to former Justice Minister Power, and contains no new evidence. I’m not satisfied there is any new information or development that warrants reconsideration of Mr Power’s decision,” says Ms Adams.
Ms Adams said the other contributing factor in her decision was that Mr Ellis had not exhausted the appeal rights available to him through the court system.
“There are proper channels for Mr Ellis to challenge his convictions, if he wishes to do so. An application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council was first mentioned by Mr Ellis’s lawyer over a decade ago but has not been pursued. That option remains open, as does a further application for the Royal prerogative of mercy.
“Notwithstanding the lengthy history of the case and its numerous reviews, it remains open to Mr Ellis to challenge his convictions through the proper channels, particularly if there is now new and compelling evidence relevant to his convictions that has not previously been considered. That is a matter for Mr Ellis to decide,” says Ms Adams.
Stuff: Government declines inquiry into convictions of Peter Ellis
NZ Herald: Peter Ellis to consider Privy Council appeal
Wikipedia: Peter Ellis