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Thorp report not secret and doesn't cast doubt on conviction
Justice Minister Phil Goff said a media report claiming Sir Thomas Thorp's opinion on Mr Ellis' case cast doubt on the conviction is incorrect.
The Minister also said it was misleading for the article to describe Sir Thomas's opinion as a 'secret' report. "The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice to assist it in providing advice on Mr Ellis' second application for the Royal prerogative of mercy, and resulted in the terms of reference of the case to the Court of Appeal being widened. "A copy of the report was given to Mr Ellis' legal advisers before the second Court of Appeal hearing. It was also made available to the Court of Appeal, the Crown Law Office and to former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum in the context of his recent inquiry into the case. However, quite properly, it was not made available more widely while the case was the subject of judicial inquiry.

"Sir Thomas Thorp was not asked to report on the merits of a pardon and did not do so. On the contrary, he indicated in his report that he did not consider it appropriate to express any firm view on the matter. His advice was on process matters relating to the pardon application and reference to the Court of Appeal. "It is important to note that the Thorp report was based on different and more limited material than the Eichelbaum inquiry. It was based on untested expert reports commissioned by Mrs Ablett Kerr QC, and the experts had only been given selective materials on which to base their opinions.

"Sir Thomas Thorp recognised the limitations of the reports, but nevertheless considered they gave rise to serious concerns which warranted further investigation. The Court of Appeal considered itself unable to embark on that kind of investigation because of limits on its jurisdiction and the way in which evidence had been presented.

It was for that reason that I established the Eichelbaum inquiry. "The Eichelbaum inquiry was exactly the kind of inquiry contemplated in the Thorp report. Sir Thomas Eichelbaum obtained views of pre-eminent international experts, who were entirely independent and based their views on a full knowledge of the case rather than selected materials. "I am satisfied that this case has had the most thorough investigation possible, and that I had no option but to advise the Governor-General to decline Mr Ellis' recent application for a pardon.

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Hon Phil Goff - Press Release 16/3/2001

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