It has always been thought that the architect behind the destablisation of Phil Goff by Chris Carter has been Helen Clark. It should surprise no-one that Clark is back in New Zealand this week.
The puzzle pieces are falling into place, one of which is the appointment by Chris Carter of Claudia Elliott to represent him.
Back in December 2004 NBR’s Jock Anderson wrote an article about Claudia Elliot.
Outgoing Attorney-General Margaret Wilson rewarded her Rotorua chum Jan Walker’s life-long Labour Party loyalty by making her a judge.Miss Walker 58, whose appointment some lawyers greeted with gasps of disbelief, will sit as a district and family court judge in Waitakere.
Despite her age, if she plays her cards right, she could join the Supreme Court.
Ms Wilson’s media statement on her appointment made no reference to Miss Walker’s life-long Labour commitment.
A Labour-appointed chairwoman of the former Casino Control Authority, Miss Walker shares a legal partnership with fellow party activist and feminist Claudia Elliott, chairwoman of the literature and film review board.
Apart from being outed in a recent Investigate magazine as a lesbian, the unmarried Miss Walker will be remembered as an unpopular candidate who in a 1985 by-election lost Labour’s 57-year domination of the Timaru seat to National.
Steeped in Labour party politics from her 1964 Canterbury university days Miss Walker is a staunch left-winger and hard-line party activist who has held influential party branch positions wherever she has worked, including Tauranga and Rotorua.
In Rotorua Miss Walker’s firm has strong links to Maori lawyer John Chadwick, whose Labour MP wife, Steve Chadwick, is heavily involved in women’s issues and is the stern political face of anti-smoking law.
Miss Walker is a former Rotorua city councillor and Maori affairs department solicitor and a member of the Rotorua legal aid committee, legal aid review authority and the legal aid review panel.
At a select committee hearing in 2000 as public-funded legal aid spiralled out of control, former National justice minister Tony Ryall dismissed claims by Miss Walker and Ms Elliott that National’s Legal Services Bill was “undemocratic and based on a right-wing ideology.”
Last year Miss Walker was at the centre of conflict of interest claims investigated by National’s Sandra Goudie on behalf of Whitianga man Martin Bowers, who was refused legal aid.
Miss Walker was a lawyer for one of the parties in Mr Bower’s case.
She was also part of a pool of specialised advisers who the Legal Services Agency used for advice on legal aid matters.
Justice Minister Phil Goff said Miss Walker did not advise on the Bower case; nor, as a member of the legal aid review panel, was she assigned to review Mr Bower’s legal aid application.
Mr Goff said it was unlikely Miss Walker had a conflict of interest.
The tentacles and machination of Clark and Wilson are very long indeed. She’s not just a friend, as Phil Goff claims, she’s one of the finest legal minds of the Clark-Wilson regime.
Stuff also had an article in February 2005.
A lawyer with aspirations of presiding on the bench would be well advised to firstly set up in legal practice on Pukaki Street.
Rotorua lawyer Jan Walker was recently sworn in as a family court judge becoming the third legal representative from the street in recent years to be elevated to judge’s chambers following the appointments of Louis Bidois and Denise Clark.
Attorney General Margaret Wilson and a coterie of judges from around the country were present at the Rotorua Courthouse for the swearing in which followed a wero and powhiri.
Judge Walker has the distinction of being the first woman to practice law in Palmerston North and also worked in both Tauranga and Wellington before moving to Rotorua in 1979. She initially worked as a staff solicitor for the Department of Maori Affairs and became a sole practitioner in 1986. Three years later she joined forces with Claudia Elliott though the partnership had an inauspicious beginning.
“We had a burglary two days after we opened the offices,” she recalled.
Judge Phil Cooper has no doubt that the country’s 41st and newest family court judge will adapt well to her new role.
“You have a reputation for legal acumen, hard work, common sense and a down to earth approach which will hold you in good stead.”
Judge Walker said she hoped her new position in Albany would not prevent her from following one general life-long principle.
“I try to learn something different and do something new every day,” she said.
All the favours are now being called in to make sure Phil Goff appears as inept as possible. So far none of what Chris Carter said in his ill-fated memo to repeaters has been wrong. Quite the contrary, it is becoming reality.