Why The Waihopai Domebusters' Trial Was Moved From Blenheim To Wellington

Friday 19 March 2010, 5:26PM
By Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

Marlborough District Councillor Gerald Hope is quoted in today’s Press (“Spy-base verdict irks locals”, “If I was a juror I would have wanted a conviction…”.

This perfectly illustrates why the defence applied for a venue change, at a hearing held in the Blenheim District Court on July 8, 2009, before Judge SM Harrop (the same judge who presided over the trial in Wellington).

That July Blenheim hearing was suppressed in its entirety, except for its outcome – namely that the trial venue would be Wellington, not Blenheim. But as Judge Harrop’s judgment says: “All of those matters may of course be reported on after the trial”.

The Anti-Bases Campaign invites you to read that full judgment (get it from the Wellington or maybe Blenheim Court. I have a copy but it is 13 hard copy pages and not electronically transmissible).

The reason that the venue change application was granted is obvious – and borne out by Councillor Hope. Adrian Leason, Peter Murnane and Sam Land would not have got a fair trial in Blenheim, they would not have got an unprejudiced jury. They got a fair trial in Wellington and an unprejudiced jury, one which took only two hours to acquit them of all charges.

I am pleased that an affidavit sworn by me, in my Anti-Bases Campaign capacity, for that July 09 Blenheim hearing was instrumental in convincing the judge to grant the defence application. I simply itemised a long history of official and community Marlborough prejudice against the Anti-Bases Campaign and others protesting the base, and included evidence of such prejudice.

Judge Harrop wrote: “In the end I have decided that there remains a real risk that, even with appropriate procedures, the risks to a fair trial that I have identified could still remain…I am therefore satisfied that the ends of justice make it expedient that the trial be held at a Court other than Blenheim. I direct that the trial take place in Wellington…”.

In light of Councillor Hope’s comments, and those of other Marlburians quoted in the article, Judge Harrop made the right decision. And the rest, as they say, is history.