Hard News by Russell Brown



I'm supposed to be recovering, so I'll keep it brief. But a couple of interesting things have appeared in the press during my brief period of infirmity.

One is this fascinating column by Martin van Beynen of The Press, on the Bain re-trial and the jury that decided it. Martin is a very good journalist. His coverage of the case led the field, and he will not have written this lightly.

He is not alone in his misgivings. A senior journalist told us, in the course of research for the Media7 programme in which Martin appeared, that they were "appalled" by the conduct of some jury members, and that the case had "shaken my faith in the jury system". Those are very strong words from an experienced court reporter.

This is not an invitation to re-open arguments about the verdict itself. But it is interesting.


The other matter is the inevitable Christine Rankin explosion. Amid the fuss about Rankin's predictably fatuous comments in her Investigate interview, this part has been literally pushed to the bottom of the story:

Meanwhile, there is confusion about Rankin's role with the For the Sake of Our Children Trust, which is a supporter of the "No" vote in the referendum campaign.

Rankin set up the trust and was its chief executive, but Bennett said that when Rankin was appointed to the commission she had stepped aside from the trust. Trust spokeswoman Bev Adair said yesterday that Rankin was still the chief executive.

Uh, another misunderstanding? How on earth did Paula Bennett come to say that Rankin had resigned from her trust role, when she hadn't? Was someone misled here? And if it was a misunderstanding, why did Rankin not simply clear it up at the time?

Meanwhile, a commenter at The Standard has some Hansard:

John Key has decided to respond by indulging in some very nasty mud-slinging. This what he said in the House today:

1) “When National was in Opposition, we still cared about abused children and we did not spend our time playing political games. All those members care about is politics; they do not care about the abused kids of New Zealand.”

2) “I go back to the point I just made: members on this side of the House care about abused kids. We look in the hospitals of New Zealand and see thousands of abused kids, and Christine Rankin has spoken out about the damage that is happening to those kids. We are going to do something about abused kids, because not enough happened under the previous Labour Government.”

3) “I am more focused on the kids than on political point-scoring—but that is OK. Secondly, I do not believe Christine Rankin has been defiant; most sections of the media believe that she has been muzzled. Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.”

He said it three times, so it was obviously a planned line of attack. A very offensive one.



And finally, the very talented Simon Pound will be standing in for me at tonight's Media7 recording. He has an interesting show.

The first of three panels looks at John Tamhere's extraordinary (and to my mind, indefensible) comments about the "homo" HIV predator, on Radio Live last week, with Tamihere himself and TV producer Claudette Hauiti.

Then there's a discussion of whether Nicky Hager's continuing (and largely offstage) battle with Crosby/Textor principal Lynton Crosby amounts to legal bullying, and how common such a practice might be. Ursula Cheer and Nicky Hager appear. And yes, Crosby was invited to participate.

And there there's a look at political upheaval and the role of social media in Iran, with Iranian lawyer Ali Shariat and AUT's Martin Hirst.

If you'd like to attend the recording, they'll need you there at The Classic before 5.30pm. Hit reply to email me and I'll pass on your name.

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