Debate over Pora compensation

The Government has offered Teina Pora $2.5 million compensation for wrongful arrest, conviction and more than twenty years in prison.

Compensation is clearly justified and I certainly don’t think the amount offered is too much. How Pora might use compensation is irrelevant.

Most argument is that it is manifestly inadequate, especially taking inflation into account, while the Government is defending the offer.

Stuff: Teina Pora may challenge $2.5 million compensation offer from Government

Speaking to media in Auckland, Key said it was likely the guidelines would be reviewed in future, but the Government wanted to be “both consistent and fair” to people who had received non-adjusted compensation in the past.

“Lots of things in Parliament aren’t inflation adjusted so if we’re going to make a policy change around inflation adjustment…we may well do that, but if we do we’ll want to do a proper review of the guidelines.”

Key believed Pora’s lawyers could seek a judicial review of the decision, and said Pora “absolutely deserves compensation”.

“I think the whole thing has been a very tragic set of circumstances and no amount of money can compensate Teina Pora for spending the better part of 20 years in prison.”

But…

Teina Pora’s legal team may challenge a $2.5 million compensation offer from the Government after he spent 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

A statement from Pora’s team said their client had been asked to accept or decline the Government’s offer in full.

“We think that is unfair…Mr Pora is under immense pressure of finances and emotion…the decision whether to challenge this aspect is complex and will take time to reach.”

The statement said the team had written to Justice Minister Amy Adams asking her to change the terms of the compensation offer, so Pora could accept it while still challenging the inflation decision.

The Government may consider this.

In a statement, Adams said she was “more than happy” to consider the request, and had asked for advice on the issue.

“It is important to note that the compensation offer is not in any way time bound,” she said.

One obvious problem with all this is that the already extensive time and money spent on securing Pora’s release and proving his innocence beyond reasonable doubt and getting a compensation offer will continue at a much higher rate of inflation than will be applied to the compensation offer.

13 Comments

  1. Nelly Smickers

     /  17th June 2016

    In the interest of correctness, the *amount of compensation* offered to Mr Pora is in fact a little better than $2.5 million……..the actual amount is $2,520,949. 42cents.

    As Wayne said, only a grey man, in a grey suit, could up with a figure like that 😕

  2. alloytoo

     /  17th June 2016

    Realistically the figure is substantively more than he could have earned during the years of his incarceration, especially given that he incurred very few if any expenses during that time. $2.5 million is a nice nest egg, carefully invested could keep him comfortable for the rest of his life.

    I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting that his lawyers are being a little bit greedy.

    • Gezza

       /  17th June 2016

      I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting that his lawyers are being a little bit greedy.
      You’re not alone. Their eventual fees might perhaps have been intended to be indexed to the compensation amount.

  3. Dougal

     /  17th June 2016

    I don’t like the government just giving away money, least of all to compensate for wrong doings. That said, Adams handled this badly by just repeating the script over and over. I did not see any real compassion or genuine remorse from her, the Justice ministry or the police. there were letters sent to Pora prior to the announcement and I’m certain there will be all manner of gagging orders attached to his cheque.

    Pora deserves more, no doubting that regardless of the “house rules” regurgitated by Adams with nauseating regularity. The right way to do it would have been to announce the calculated figure of $2.5 (and change) but add the same again for the hell hole Pora had to live in and the scum who he had to share time with, the fact that the police deliberately used Pora’s diminished mental capacity against him and did so with intent, the fact that Pora had to endure 2 other trials where he remained wrongfully convicted, that Pora not only lost his income but also time. Time that he will never get back, this is the most valuable loss in my mind and deserves the most compensation.

    • Gezza

       /  17th June 2016

      Adams has stated that she will consider his lawyers’ request that the amount be reviewed.
      http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/306552/minister-seeking-advice-on-pora's-request

      She has also said that the offer stacks up against international comparisons:

      Ms Adams said the guidelines, introduced by Labour, did not provide for inflation adjusting.

      “We had to be mindful of the eight other people who have been compensated under those guidelines who haven’t had inflation adjusting.”

      Other components of the compensation offer were made in real dollar terms, Ms Adams said, but Cabinet was comfortable with the $100,000 per year figure.

      “The $100,000 actually sits very well in terms of international measures for the amounts of compensation.

      In the UK, if you have had more than 10 years in prison, your total compensation is capped at one million pounds, if you are in the US the annual rate is somewhere between $18,000 and $100,000, across different states.”

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11657749

      • Dougal

         /  17th June 2016

        @Gezza, you and I both know if this happened in the US the figure would have at least another zero plus all the trappings of movie and book deals. I didn’t have to look long to find many examples of the same crime/s Pora was convicted of by other exonerated people attracted at least 4 times the amount Pora was awarded for the same time spent in jail so Adams line of sticking to “guidelines” becomes less tenuous by the day.

        I hope she does review it and with a view to increasing it. Everything else she says in the above statement is politicking especially the first line. Perhaps Adams has chosen the long game to test public opinion, shift blame to Labour for the guidelines, make herself and National look like the good “guy” and up the settlement.

        • Gezza

           /  17th June 2016

          I also googled and found cases that supported what Adams said. Compensation varies in the US. What I hope will be done is that his lawyers and anybody else who has helped him & expects recompense will disclose their fees, & that these will be taken into account and the final amount awarded is calculated independently of his costs.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  17th June 2016

            I read a book about a man who spent years inside-some of it on death row-for a crime he didn’t commit. His compensation was very mean-a very stingy assessment of his earnings in that time.

            In the UK, a man who spent many years in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit was told that he had had free board and lodging all that time, so couldn’t expect any more than that. It caused a real hoohah, which was understandable.

            In the US, I have heard that people go for many times what they expect to be given, as if they asked for that, they’d be given a fraction of it.I’d guess that there is something in that

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th June 2016

              There have been many cases in the US where people have not had book and film deals or even compensation. The book and film thing would be for the few sensational cases, not the majority that are of little interest to anyone but the people involved.

  4. Gezza

     /  17th June 2016

    Pora can take $2.5m compensation & challenge amount
    Teina Pora is to receive a compensation package immediately while he decides whether to ask the courts to review the decision not to adjust it for inflation.

    “I can confirm that the Crown has agreed to Mr Pora’s request that he receive the sum that’s been approved by Cabinet immediately while still reserving his right to challenge the decision not to apply inflation to non-pecuniary losses and that decision has been communicated to Mr Pora’s legal team,” Justice Minister Amy Adams said in a statement this afternoon.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11658496