Pressure builds for National to review their Pora compensation

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It could not be any clearer. Mr Pora spent 21 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. He has lived more than half his adult life behind bars.

He has been separated from his daughter, subjected to the harshness of imprisonment, defined by the justice system as a murderer and twice convicted of slaying a woman in a home he had not set foot in. In New Zealand judicial history, Mr Pora’s case ranks among the worst miscarriages of justice. On that ground alone, those with the task of reaching a fair and just settlement need to temper their accounting with compassion.

Yet despite months of freedom, and a report by a retired High Court judge which found unequivocably that a different man was solely responsible for the heinous rape and murder of Susan Burdett, Mr Pora finds himself still fighting the state to show an element of decency.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has pointed out that the Cabinet guidelines, used to strike the amount mentioned in the statement of apology – $2,520,949.20 – did not provide for inflation. The guidelines are, however, discretionary.

The starting point under the arrangements is $100,000 a year. The actual sum in the case of Mr Pora was reached, it appears, by multiplying the base amount by the years he spent behind bars with an additional $300,000 to cover pecuniary losses for income he could not earn.

Taking inflation into account, it has been suggested the payment would be around $4.5 million. The minister and her colleagues could easily put the guidelines to one side and revisit the matter, before it has to deal with David Bain’s compensation case. A report about Mr Bain’s claim has been with ministers for some months, with no sign of a decision being reached. Justice Rodney Hansen found Mr Pora innocent on the balance of probabilities – the test for compensation – adding that “he could have proved his innocence to an even higher standard”.

Mr Bain, who spent 13 years in jail before a jury in a retrial found him not guilty of the murder of five family members, has been the focus of a compensation process which started four years ago. He too deserves answers sooner rather than later.

The matter of Mr Pora is cut and dried. He is an innocent man. The Cabinet accepts that. In the interests of justice and fairness, it should revise its offer. That is a simple way in which this stain on the administration of justice can start to fade.

I appreciate that precedents can be set by paying too much, but compensating someone who has 21 years of his life stolen at the level of the “guidelines” does seem extremely light. It is, in fact, the absolute minimum the government can get away with. If nothing else, there is no component of regret or compensation in that amount, and that’s unlikely to satisfy anyone but the most stone-hearted.

Or, the government correctly understands the public sentiment, which is that no one cares – except the Media party. Everyone, except the Media party, knows that Teina Pora was no angel. Sure he was a drop kick and sure he was fitted up by his own stupidity but, the reality is, this guy was a Mongrel Mob prospect, probably still associates with the Mongrel Mob and we have only been presented with the information given by the media. Basically, I believe that no one really cares and this will soon be forgotten except for a few crim-hugging media luvvies who invested their now defunct careers on this guy.

 

– NZ Herald


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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