Crown Law litigation supervision ‘satisfactory’

by Hannah Norton15 Jul 2015
Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson is satisfied with the conduct of Crown Law in relation to R v Banks, he announced yesterday.

Former MP and mayor of Auckland John Banks was acquitted of filing a false electoral return in May this year.

Following the release of the Court of Appeal’s decision, and comments made in the media, Finlayson vowed to “take a careful look at Crown Law’s management of the case in my capacity as minister responsible for the Crown Law Office.”

“I have now done so.”

The proceeding was commenced as a private prosecution by Graham McCready, Finlayson said.

“The decision to commit Mr Banks to trial was an independent judicial decision.”

Crown Law then had limited involvement at various stages of the case, briefing an independent barrister to conduct the prosecution, he said.

“It did so for a number of reasons, including the involvement of Mr [Kim] Dotcom as a witness and the politically controversial nature of the case.

“Mr Banks has had a distinguished career in both central and local government and I acknowledge the distress this matter has caused his family and him. I am, however, satisfied that Crown Law’s supervision of the litigation was satisfactory and in line with the Prosecution Guidelines 2013.”

Finlayson also expressed his support for Solicitor-General Mike Heron, after Banks was highly critical of him and Crown prosecutor Paul Dacre after his acquittal, saying they had "a lot to answer for".

“Because of the personalised nature of some of the allegations about the conduct of the Solicitor-General, I state for the record that he has my full confidence,” Finlayson said.

“He is an outstanding Solicitor-General.

“The next step in this case will be the determination of costs, which is a matter for Crown Law and Mr Banks’ lawyer. I will be making no further comments.”