Judith Collins on the witch hunt against John Banks

Judith Collins writes in?the?Sunday Star Times:

PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS are an important constitutional safeguard against corruption and official indifference. New Zealand is one of the few countries to allow private prosecutions for criminal charges where the police have found there should not be a prosecution.

Before police bring prosecutions they need to consider the prosecution guidelines. These focus on the evidence, the public interest, in other words, is it worth it? Is it likely to result in a conviction? Is it a sensible use of resources? What will be achieved?

Private prosecutions don?t have that safeguard, though others exist. In 2000 when the Law Commission looked at the issue, they gave an example of vengeful and vexatious motives by a serial stalker who mounted private prosecutions against 2 of his victims alleging they obtained protections order on perjured evidence. Fortunately, for his victims, he forged the signature of a JP and ended up being convicted on forgery and uttering forged documents. Karma.

It is astonishing what people will say in court proceedings and in sworn affidavits…when you line them all up, from different courts, along with sworn testimony you can clearly see the perjury…getting judges to entertain actually looking at it is hard though.

Now we have John Banks. His career and reputation have been destroyed from a private prosecution alleging he knew details of donations from Kim Dotcom for Bank?s 2010 mayoral campaign. Dotcom lamented the fact Banks, then a minister of the Crown, wouldn?t help him when Dotcom was in Mt Eden Prison. If Banks had tried to help Dotcom, he would have committed a serious offence under the Corrections Act and breached the Cabinet manual.

Donations are a difficult business in politics. Old school National MPs never knew who donated to them ? When he was a National MP, Banks would have been no exception. When the law changed around anonymous donations it opened politicians to donor pressure. Banks came under that pressure from Dotcom.

Good politician never go near the money, ever. You have people for that. John Banks unfortunately has Michelle Boag amongst others.

Banks was called corrupt ? ironically, if he had done what he was asked to there would have been substance to the taunts thrown at him. Despite police not prosecuting, a District Court Judge found there was a case to answer and the Solicitor General took up the prosecution.

Mr Banks then had the indignity of Dotcom and his witnesses being found by a High Court Judge to be more credible than Banks or his wife, Amanda Medcalf. Incensed with the insult to her integrity, Medcalf tracked down the independent witnesses to the now-infamous lunch when supposedly donations were discussed. They backed the Banks? version of events.

Now it appears that the prosecution evidence has changed. Apparently, the lunch was four days later than originally alleged. The problem being that Mr Banks was campaigning and Mrs Banks was working at the time.

The prosecution is mounting what in the military would be called “a forlorn hope”. ?The evidence simply does not support the allegations.

I’ve known John Banks for about a decade. He’s unusual, in fact his manner can be a bit odd. He’s always polarising but I’ve always found him to be honest and honourable. I’ve never known him to resile from his word.

I’ve known Banksie since I was a child, he has always been approachable, and he, unlike many other politicians, has never told me a lie.

So where to now?

John Banks has now had more than 30 days in court before 15 judges. There will not have been a day in the last two years where he wouldn?t have thought about these proceeding. His conviction has now been thrown out by the Court of Appeal. He?s still going through the retrial process. His opponent these days is not the private prosecutor but the Crown. His family has been through hell. One thing he will come out of this with will be knowing who his friends are. The Law Commission said there is an ?important constitutional and theoretical place [for] private prosecutions? but noted ??dangers that exist with the current system for such prosecutions??. There sure are. Private prosecutions should be based on fact, not on fantasy.

Unfortunately these vexatious litigants get given a great deal of leeway int eh courts as they financially and reputationally ruin people in their wonky pursuit of “justice”.

Just defending against vexatious litigation is costly not only in time but also money.


– Sunday Star-Times