Calls for a Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse in New Zealand

“For both historic and contemporary abuse claimants, their claims are handled in a way which is completely alien to them. We are told things such as the claim’s process offers an alternative to lengthy court processes. What we aren’t told is that the Courts are closed to us because the State rigorously invokes Statute of Limitations and, as such, any claim put before the Courts, regardless of the facts, will fail on a technical defense that the State isn’t obliged to invoke but has chosen to do so. We are subjected to a non-independent and non- impartial investigation by the very same institution that was responsible for our abuse in the first instance. All the while, the State tells us that we will have our claims independently and impartially investigated. This is insulting in the extreme. There is no transparency as to how the State evaluates a claim, how they determine its validity, and how they have come to determine what they consider constitutes adequate redress. Nor are we told that the quality of this redress is lower than any other developed country in the world. Claimants are subjected to a top-down process that offers no justice in the judicial/legal sense. Of course, this is never mentioned. We are told that the process is the right and moral thing to do; however, upon close inspection, as with the Australian Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process, it is a highly immoral, re-traumatising process given the same State that violated our rights as children then violates our rights as adults. In essence, human rights violations part 2.

To date, New Zealand is the only Commonwealth Country that has refused to hold a Royal Commission or any other form of public inquiry into institutional ‘child sexual abuse’ (CSA). Additionally, to date, New Zealand is one of the few developed countries in the world that has failed to address this issue publicly in any way whatsoever. Instead, what successive New Zealand Governments have done is sort to hide (“contain”) the facts of institutional child abuse through closed door inquiries where information from these inquiries is hidden from public view.

For example, in July of 2015, a journalist from the Dominion Post, Stacey Kirk, released Official Information Act (OIA) material surrounding historic institutional abuse claims and the then newly announced Fast Track scheme for resolving claims of historic abuse against the New Zealand State.  These documents showed that the New Zealand National Government identified the potential for a public inquiry into institutional child abuse as a risk with the potential for them to lose control of a process they had worked hard to tightly contain.

Among the risks the documents specified were: “loss of confidence and trust in the process of resolving claims of abuse; the potential of a renewed call for a public enquiry into historic claims; claimants looking to the courts for resolution… or an alternative process being called for either by the courts or through public opinion and pressure”.

Contrary to trends in other countries, surrounding cases of historic institutional CSA, any claim that made it to a court “will be defended”, the documents showed.

This political terminology is perhaps not too surprising because much of the institutional CSA that has occurred in New Zealand has occurred in State-run institutions.

That is, New Zealand is perhaps unique when compared to most other developed countries in that it was the State that predominantly took in children for care.   From the 1950s until the 1980s the government took in more than 100,000 children from families where they were suffering abuse, poverty or neglect and placed them in foster and/or institutional care. In homes such as Kingslea, Epuni, Kohitere and Allendale the State became parent. Within these institutions children face abysmal conditions, limited education and social isolation. They were subjected to psychological, physical and sexual violence as well as secure cells, knock-out sedatives and electric convulsive therapy. Therefore, in New Zealand, the State is largely responsible for much of the historic child abuse that has occurred in institutional care.

Thus, calls on the New Zealand Government for a Royal Commission (or any other form of public inquiry) can only be likened to asking the guilty to investigate themselves.

What I would argue in the following material is that the New Zealand State has acted every bit as cynically as the Australian Catholic Church in attempts to contain the facts surrounding institutional CSA, and in its treatment of institutional CSA victims/survivors. What makes this situation more insidious is that as a State, unlike the Australian Catholic Church, it is only that State that can call on a public inquiry. However, to date,  the New Zealand State has; 1) repeatedly refused to be held to public account; 2) instead it has sort to “contain” the facts of systemic and endemic abuse that has occurred in New Zealand State-run institutions; 3) created self-protectionary laws, policy and measures to deny victims of State child abuse access to independent and impartial mechanisms of justice and; 4) treated State institutional abuse survivors with a callous contempt that has now been shown through the United Nations Committee Against Torture to be in violation of international human rights norms/laws.

On the latter, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) has called on the New Zealand State to respect their obligations to the Convention Against Torture on the matter of failing to provide adequate redress to over a thousand people who were historically abused as children while in NZ State-run institutions.

The historic abuse claims processes  which are, for the most part, handled by New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development, were questioned by several NZ groups, including myself along with NGOs and NZ’s national human rights body, who submitted shadow reports to the UNCAT for New Zealand’s 6th Periodic Review before the Committee in April/May 2015. These reports raised a number of serious human rights concerns including long delays in settling claims, the failure of the NZ Government to provide an independent and impartial investigation of cases of historic abuse, and failing to provide adequate redress to victims of abuse.

The UNCAT made this statement in their concluding observations of New Zealand’s recent 6th Periodic Review before the Committee.

(Quote)

“19. While welcoming the commitment of the State Party to provide compensation to victims of historic claims of abuse, the Committee is concerned at the fact that victims have not been awarded with full redress, including compensation and rehabilitation, as prescribed by general comment No. 3 (2012) on the implementation of article 14 by States parties.

… The State party should establish the legislative and structural framework necessary for ensuring that all victims of torture receive redress, including medical and psychological assistance, full compensation and the means for full rehabilitation.”

(End Quote)

Further, the UNCAT, in the same periodic review, questioned the New Zealand State over its failure to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators of State institutional abuse with:

“The Committee notes that the State party failed to investigate or hold any individual accountable for the nearly 200 allegations of torture and ill-treatment against minors at Lake Alice Hospital. The Committee also notes the lack of relevant statistical information.”

A Comparison of the New Zealand State to the Australian Catholic Church

What the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (ARC) has very publicly demonstrated, in its investigations into the Catholic Church, is; 1) child sexual abuse by the clergy has been/is systemic and endemic; 2) in many/most cases, known clergy pedophiles have been shifted from church to church (relocated) as “issues” have arisen; 3) in just about all instances known to the Church clergy pedophiles have gone unreported to authorities; 4) the Catholic Church (CC) has engaged in a systemic cover-up of child sexual abuse; 5) the CC has ruthlessly used any legal defense possible to deny victims’ of clergy abuse access to meaningful justice through the courts; 6) where the CC has been able to use technical defenses to prevent legal findings against the church, they have established the ‘Towards Healing’ process where clergy sexual abuse victims can seek acknowledgement of and redress for the crimes committed against them.

The stated intent made by the CC of Towards Healing is that it provides an opportunity to a person to tell his or her story to somebody in authority in the Church, receive an apology, be offered pastoral care and be offered reparation. It also provides one of several methods by which Church bodies assess risk regarding those still holding a position within the Church.

The stated principles of Towards Healing are striving for truth, humility, healing for victims, assistance to other persons affected, an effective response to those who are accused, an effective response to those who are guilty of abuse and prevention of abuse.

However, during the Australian Royal Commission (ARC), sexual abuse victims and their lawyers maintained Towards Healing is a process that re-traumatises survivors and should be scrapped altogether. The ARC commission’s chief executive, Janette Dines, stated common themes expressed were complaints about power imbalances under the Towards Healing program and a lack of consistency and transparency in the way victims were treated.

In one case the ARC heard that a woman who had been sexually abused as a teenager had her Towards Healing meeting with church representatives in April 1999. After two years of fraught negotiations she got $30,000, most of it wiped out by costs. She got 10 sessions with a psychologist but had to repeatedly chase up the Brisbane archdiocese to get the bill paid.

The protracted negotiations “had the effect of re-abusing the victim and it was certainly not a compassionate response”, admitted Mary Rogers, the director of the Catholic Church’s Queensland professional standards office who facilitated the April 1999 meeting for the Brisbane archdiocese. Ms Rogers also agreed that there was no “justice” in Towards Healing in any legal sense. “The word justice is difficult to fit into this protocol,” she said.

The ARC also heard the case of lawyer and clergy abuse victim, John Ellis.

As a child, John Ellis was sexually assaulted by Father Aidan Duggan from about 1974 to 1979. Mr Ellis was an altar boy and Father Duggan was an Assistant Priest at the Christ the King Catholic Church at Bass Hill in Sydney, New South Wales. Mr Ellis was aged between 13 and 17 years old and Father Duggan was aged between 54 and 59 years old.

Ellis commenced the Towards Healing process in 2002. After being offered initially $25,000 and then later $30, 000 he commenced legal action against the Catholic Church.

On 31 August 2004 legal proceedings began in the Supreme Court of New South Wales against Cardinal George Pell as the first defendant, the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Sydney (the Trustees) as the second defendant and Father Duggan as the third defendant. Ellis pleaded causes of action in tort and breach of fiduciary duty arising from allegations of sexual abuse by Father Duggan between 1974 and his 18th birthday on 14 March 1979.

Father Duggan died soon after proceedings commenced and Ellis decided not to pursue the claim against his estate. The proceedings remained on foot against Cardinal Pell and the Trustees only.

In the litigation, the solicitors for the Archdiocese and Cardinal Pell disputed that Father Duggan had sexually abused Mr Ellis. There was an issue as to whether the solicitors sought the instructions of Archdiocese and Cardinal Pell before advising of the dispute.

On 24 June 2005, some seven months after the fact that Ellis’ abuse had first been put in dispute, the Archdiocese, on behalf of the Trustees and the Archbishop, sought to put itself in a position where it could maintain a non-admission of Mr Ellis’s abuse because this was in the interests of the Church in the litigation.

Throughout the litigation the Trustees and the Archbishop continued to dispute that the abuse had occurred, despite the fact that during the hearing another complainant – ‘SA’, who claimed he had been abused by Father Duggan in 1980 – came forward.

After years in the High Court and then the Court of Appeal the courts found in favour of the Catholic Church, finding that the trustees that hold the assets of a church diocese cannot be sued because they are not responsible for the diocese’s activities.

In other words, the church lacks a corporate identity to sue. This set a legal precedent which has infamously become known as the “Ellis”.

The “Ellis” has been invoked innumerable times by the Australian Catholic Church. Some parts of the church, more concerned with morality than legality, do not use the defence to shield their assets. The Sydney archdiocese, however, has consistently used the “Ellis”.

During the ARC after a grueling examination of the actions of the Catholic Church in the Ellis case, George Pell made a public apology to John Ellis for his treatment at the hands of the Church.

“As former Archbishop and speaking personally, I would want to say to Mr Ellis that we failed in many ways, some way inadvertently, in our moral and pastoral responsibilities to him,” Mr Pell said.

“I want to acknowledge his suffering and the impact of this terrible affair on his life. As the then Archbishop, I have to take ultimate responsibility, and this I do.

“At this end of this gruelling appearance for both of us at this royal commission, I want publicity to say sorry to him for the hurt caused him by the mistakes made, admitted by me, and some of our archdiocesan personnel during the course of the Towards Healing process and litigation.”

During the course of the apology Pell failed to look John Ellis in the eyes.

A COMPARISON OF THE AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH’S ‘TOWARDS HEALING’ PROCESS AND ‘NEW ZEALAND’S HISTORIC ABUSE CLAIMS’ PROCESSES

Comparison of Sums Paid for Compensation/Ex-Gratia Payments

What is arguable is that the New Zealand John Key National Government has modeled its own State-institutional historic child abuse redress scheme (the MSD historic claims and related processes) after the Australian Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process (THP) – a process which has been broadly condemned by Australian CSA survivors and the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In fact, by comparison, based on compensation payments made to victims, one could fairly argue that Australian Catholic Church victims have fared better under the broadly condemned ‘Towards Healing’ process than New Zealand’s State abuse victims have fared at the hands of the MSD historic claims and related processes .

For example, lawyer Sonja Cooper, who currently has 640 State historic abuse clients on her books, said recently on National Radio that only 50 of her claims are resolved with MSD a year, and the number of new complaints she receives doubles this annually. Delays of anything up to 15 years can be expected, before a claim is resolved. This dragging on is seen as another form of abuse to the survivors, and an endless re-traumatisation.

In a surprising move, in 2015 the MSD, faced with their growing backlog of historic claims (921 at that point), implemented a fast-track option for claims received by the end of 2014. Under the MSD Fast Track scheme (FTS), State abuse victims have the level of abuse they suffered evaluated within nine eligibility criteria and which also classified six categories of claim types by their seriousness, with corresponding quantum offers ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 as per the specific categorisation. No claimant would receive zero or less than $5,000.

The purpose of the FTS was to settle cases without the time-consuming need for a full assessment. Under the expedited procedure the Ministry would treat the allegations made as true without fully investigating them. However, the Ministry would check the basic factual elements of the claim to ensure these were consistent with the Ministry’s records.

420 FTS offers were made by the MSD between 19 May 2015 and 31 March 2016. The significant majority of these were made in May-June 2015. All of these offers have been made to non-legally represented claimants. 360 claimants accepted FTS offers. By 31st March 2016 the MSD had paid $6,548,000 to the 360 claimants or, an average of $18,188.00 per claim.

Prior to the FTS scheme being introduced from 1 January 2004 to 31 August 2013 the MSD resolved 455 claims of State institutional historic abuse. A total of $6,073,184 has been paid across these 455 claims.” This equates to an average of $13,347.00 compensation per claim.

Combining these two sets of averages (total of 815 claims with total of $12,621,184) an average of $15,486.00 compensation (technically an “ex-gratia payment”) per claim can be established.

Comparatively, the Australian Royal Commission was told that the Melbourne Archdiocese had paid about $12.8 million in compensation for 316 child sex abuse claims between January 1980 and February 2015 – or an average of just over $40,000.00 per claim, or more than twice what the New Zealand State is offering up as compensation to its victims.

Re-Abuse Thinly Disguised as a Redress Scheme

“(The) process denies many claimants the effective remedies to which they are entitled, due to a number of significant flaws. Broadly, there are concerns about the impartiality and promptness of the process, the excessive delays in obtaining any remedy, and the quality of the remedy that is offered.”

“No police prosecutions nor, to our knowledge, employment-based disciplinary sanctions have resulted from this process.

…the Historic Claims process is not independent. Significantly, the investigation and the findings therefrom are not transparent… When the process results in offers of financial settlement, the quantum is considerably lower than a Court would award (and considerably lower than settlements offered to similar claimants at the Lake Alice Hospital some 10-15 years ago, and quantum awarded in other jurisdictions).” Cooper Legal, 13/14 UPR Report

In a similar vein to the Australian Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process the New Zealand State uses feel-good rhetoric to describe its redress scheme. For example, it claims that the MSD and related processes are independent and impartial, that the State is doing its best to “put things right”, that the MSD and related processes offer an alternative to judicial processes, the non-judicial process is the “moral” thing to do, and assertions are made:

“You do not need a lawyer to work directly with the Ministry of Social Development to resolve your complaint or claim. However, you always have the option of obtaining legal advice, if you wish.”

Further, claimants are repeatedly advised by the MSD that legal representation is unnecessary.

This, of course, misses the point that those who have legal representation, on average, receive a higher quality of redress – at least where monetary compensation is concerned. For example, upon analysis a legally represented claimant is over two-times more likely to receive a payment of above $30,000 than a non-legally represented claimant. 

It further misses the point that the MSD and related processes, in many cases, re-abuses the victim through:

1) The abused is forced to seek redress for the abuse with the very institution that abused them.

2) While the State makes claims as to the independence and impartiality of investigations, given it is the State investigating its own, any claims of independence and impartiality are an insult to the victim’s intellect.

3) Given New Zealand pays lower sums of compensation (technically ex-gratia payments) than any other developed country, abuse victims are in effect being told that a life’s suffering is worth very little to the abuser (the State) by the abuser. Ex-gratia payments have been described by claimants/victims as “another kick in the guts”.

4)  Because the abuser (the State) investigates claims against itself and makes financial offers to compensate abuse/suffering when justice is not seen to be done, this acts to re-abuse/re-traumatise the victim; i.e. a group of people who intrinsically distrust the State, left without any other choice, are being funneled into a State orchestrated process where the State is seen to be investigating itself. Should justice then not be seen to be done, this is a form of re-victimisation and reaffirms and supports feelings of distrust towards the State.

5) Often OIA (Official Information Act) material surrounding a claimant’s time in care takes excessively long periods to surface and when it does surface it is typically heavily redacted. This situation (heavily redacted documents) was challenged when Cooper Legal, acting on behalf of numerous claimants, sued the Attorney General for the right to access unredacted documents. The Court found in this case:

“The expeditious and inexpensive way forward is for the Ministry to provide a set of documents to counsel for the plaintiffs which contains both the redacted version and a clean copy of each of the disputed documents. The clean copies are to be provided strictly on a counsel to counsel basis only.” [1]

Additionally, in December 2015, Radio New Zealand covered a story surrounding the fact that Cooper Legal, representing 74 historic abuse claimants, had lodged a lawsuit with the Human Rights Review Tribunal in April 2015, over excessive delays in releasing official documents relating to time spent in care by claimants. Media noting:

[Quote]

“People who were abused in state care are suing the government for $740,000 for what they say is a failure to act when they asked for their personal records.

The group of 74 people needed the documents in order to file compensation claims for the abuse.

But the claimants say the Ministry of Social Development treated them with contempt, taking up to 16 months to hand over the information.

“They get stuck, basically, in a system where they’ve come to us and talked about their history of abuse, and often had to deal with really traumatic events that they’ve spent a lot of time trying to forget, and then they kind of have to sit and wait in a vortex.

“The delays have created their own sort of stress, and our clients often don’t have good health, so we’ve had clients who have died while they’ve waited for their records.” [2]

[End Quote]

6) In at least some cases OIA information is denied all together, although this is far more likely to happen with non-legally represented claimants than those with legal representation. For example, in my case against the Ministry of Education (a related claims process) where I did apply for OIA (Official Information Act) material through the Ministry, in all instances this OIA was denied, either on the basis that the requested information no longer existed or it was refused on the basis of (quote), The information requested… has been withheld under section 9(2)(a) of the Act to avoid the unwarranted disclosure of the affairs of another individual.”[3]  Fortunately (perhaps the wrong word) the New Zealand Police did have records that fully outlined the sexual abuse I had suffered and the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of that abuse. However, had these records not existed I would have had no evidence for my claim. I have been told by the Ministry of Education that they destroy records after 25 years. To this day, rightly or wrongly, I believe they lied about this as a self-protectionary measure. I.e. in denying me access to evidence they sought to weaken my case.

7) Lengthy delays and the lack of resolution acts to re-abuse victims. In fact, comparatively, Australian CC Towards Healing claims are settled far quicker than MSD historic claims. Over the past decade, the MSD has received more than 1,750 claims from people who allege they were abused as children while in State care. By December 2015, 513 of these historic claims had been filed in the High Court. In 2007, the MSD set up an internal process to attempt to resolve these claims out of court. This process involved meeting with a claimant, carrying out a detailed assessment of the claim (including reviewing the claimant’s files) and, where appropriate, making an offer of settlement including a personal apology and a monetary payment. The Ministry’s claim resolution worked reasonably well initially but complaints were made that it was very time intensive and slow. On average, it took 27 months to resolve a claim. As more claims were received, a backlog of unresolved claims developed. By August 2013, the backlog had grown to 774 claims. A third of these claims had been unresolved for more than three years.[4]

8) Where offers of monetary (ex-gratia) payments are seen as unsatisfactory by claimants there is no room for negotiation and no recourse for suing through the courts due to Statute of Limitations defences which are rigorously invoked by the Attorney General when historic claims do reach the Courts. (See end note for more detail)

9) There is a lack of consistency across the claims processes. For example, the Ministry of Education (MOE) caps payments at a maximum of $30,000 while the MSD, for the same level of abuse, would, through their Fast Track Scheme, offer a payment of $50, 000.00. Under the non-Fast Track route this sum could be higher. Where the Ministry of Health (MOH) is concerned, maximum payments are capped at $18,000 for settlement payments and $9,000 for ex-gratia payments (in the case of the MOH, “settlements are still ex-gratia payments but made where there is a likelihood of litigation which takes them over the historical abuse threshold of $9,000”.[5]). What the State effectively is saying is that if you were abused while in MOE or MOH care the trauma suffered was less than the trauma suffered had that abuse occurred with the MSD. Crazy right? More importantly, this approach  is inhumane, immoral and re-traumatising.

10) The lack of transparency in the historic claims has been profound. That is, the government has attempted to keep things as non-transparent as possible. This extends to the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) which was so non-transparent it was perhaps the most appropriately named inquiry ever; i.e. it was so “confidential” no one knew a thing about it until Dominion Post Journalist, Stacey Kirk, accessed OIA relating to the service. Even the head of service, Judge Carolyn Henwood, is quoted in media with:

“One part of there not being an inquiry is that the public don’t know about any of this. Findings are kept under the radar”.  

Another very obvious example of the lack of transparency in the State institutional response processes surrounds the ‘contemporary claims’ which were introduced in 2013 by the MSD. The MSD contemporary claims process offers redress to those abused in State-care between the years of 1993 – 2007 (historic claims are only covered until 1993). This said, three years after introducing the scheme,   to date,  the MSD has failed to add information to their website surrounding the existence/availability of this redress scheme. When I questioned them about there being no information on their website surrounding the contemporary claims, in September of 2015, the MSD informed me that they were updating the information on their site. However, In August of 2016, nearly a year later, nothing had been added to the MSD site surrounding the existence of the contemporary claims process.  Read more about this here …..

For both historic and contemporary abuse claimants, their claims are handled in a way which is completely alien to them. We are told things such as the claim’s process offers an alternative to lengthy court processes. What we aren’t told is that the Courts are closed to us because the State rigorously invokes Statute of Limitations and, as such, any claim put before the Courts, regardless of the facts, will fail on a technical defense that the State isn’t obliged to invoke but has chosen to do so. We are subjected to a non-independent and non- impartial investigation by the very same institution that was responsible for our abuse in the first instance. All the while, the State tells us that we will have our claims independently and impartially investigated. This is insulting in the extreme. There is no transparency as to how the State evaluates a claim, how they determine its validity, and how they have come to determine what they consider constitutes adequate redress. Nor are we told that the quality of this redress is lower than any other developed country in the world. Claimants are subjected to a top-down process that offers no justice in the judicial/legal sense. Of course, this is never mentioned. We are told that the process is the right and moral thing to do; however, upon close inspection, as with Towards Healing, it is a highly immoral re-traumatising process given the same State that violated our rights as children then violates our rights as adults. In essence, human rights violations part 2.

End Notes:

Technical Defences: Statute of Limitations (NZ State) v Ellis (Australian CC)

In a similar vein to the Australian Catholic Church, which uses a technical defence, the “Ellis”, to full effect, the New Zealand State has rigorously invoked its own technical defence, the Statute of Limitations (the Limitation Act 1950), to defeat any historic abuse claim made against it in the Courts.

What this means is that where events of abuse occurred 6 years or more prior to court proceedings being filed, the case fails due to ‘Statute of Limitations’ – a time bar defense the State isn’t obliged to invoke, but had chosen to do so.

Of note is that as a result of the Australian Royal Commission, Statute of Limitations on a State-by-State basis is now being set aside in historic abuse claims in Australia. To date, as of August 2016, Victoria, NSW, QLD, and Canberra have all removed, or have announced the intent to remove, Statute of Limitations in their Courts for cases of historic child abuse.

Conversely, the New Zealand State has made it very clear that under all circumstances, historic claims made against the State will incur Statute of Limitations.

For example, in discussions I have had with the New Zealand Attorney General, Christopher Finlayson, when probed about whether his office would be prepared to waive the statute of limitations in my case, this is the response I received:

[Quote]

“I have explained in my previous letters the Government is willing to resolve such cases out of court where it is able to do so despite the expiry of relevant limitation periods…

When matters proceed to Court the Government does not generally waive any applicable limitation period. It would not be appropriate for me to treat your claim differently from any other case before the Court.” 

[End Quote]

Correspondence from the Office of the Attorney-General, dated 19 August 2014

In one benchmark case that would set the tone in the historic claims processes, W&W v. Attorney General (W & W v ATTORNEY-GENERAL SC 48/2010 29 June 2010), two brothers represented by Cooper Legal. attempted to sue the New Zealand State for more than one million dollars each. They alleged physical and sexual abuse while under social welfare supervision and in institutional care from 1959 to 1976 and 1978 respectively. One filed proceedings in December 1999 and the other in October 2001.

After a decade of Court wrangling (the case originally being tried in the High Court, then the Court of Appeal and finally the Supreme Court), the plaintiffs could not overcome the Limitation Act.

Nevertheless the Supreme Court found that there had been breaches of the duty of care, with this noted in the Supreme Court findings:

[Quote]

“While the applicants have undoubtedly undergone regrettable suffering during their childhood and adolescence, the Limitation Act operates to preclude them seeking legal redress. The other legal issues raised by the appellants are not appropriate for consideration in light of the findings on limitation.”

[End Quote]

As a result of W&W v. Attorney General, it became impossible for any historic abuse claimant to have legal aid funding approved for court action on the basis that all future cases would fail. The State has thus closed off judicial remedy (findings, legal precedent, legally established damages and redress/compensation awards) to State historic abuse claimants through a technical defence, leaving the MSD and related processes as the only alternative means for seeking redress.

More to be added shortly…..



[1] N v THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL [2016] NZHC 547 [1 April 2016]

[2] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/291541/state-care-abuse-victims-suing-govt

[3] Ministry of Education OIA response (2/12/2011) Signed by Jill Bond, Acting Deputy of Special Education

[4] XY v Attorney-General CIV-2015-485-758; [2016] NZHC 1196

[5] OIA from Ministry of Health received 1/4/2014

 

 

 

4 comments on “Calls for a Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse in New Zealand

  1. Alexandra Murray on said:

    Excellent article. Check out the New Zealand Catholic Churches “Towards Healing” process. I have gone through it and it is a sham and I defiantly don’t agree with it. I was asked to sigh a Confidentiality Clause, yet Mr Bill Killagon says that confidentiality clauses are no longer used and haven’t been used for more than a decade. If that is the truth, why was I asked to sign one in 2015.

    • admin_grant on said:

      Yep no surprises there. Send me documented evidence though because claims without documented evidence are meaningless where it comes to going public with these claims or where the courts are concerned. Got to say I have heard so many claims and then said great, send me the evidence and then nothing. So shoot through the emails/correspondence where they ask you to sign a non-disclosure otherwise it never happened. :-)

  2. Tectonic Taniwha on said:

    Would you like info on a former deputy prime minister who’s daughter I used to go to school with and she swore black and blue that her father did things to her, but as he weilded a lot of power, she was never listened to by whomever she laid complaints to. She now lives in Australia and has nothing to do with him.

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