“Shocking treatment’ of prisoner

Newsroom: Prison transfer sparks human rights row

Video footage shows notorious prison ‘bush lawyer’ Arthur Taylor being forcibly taken while unconscious from Auckland to Waikeria Prison – but maltreatment is strongly denied by Corrections.

Arthur Taylor, his lawyer Sue Earl, Otago University former Dean of Law Mark Henaghan, and advocate Hazel Heal want Corrections to release the footage to the public.

Henaghan and Heal also plan to send information to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. They claim the long-time prisoner and public law litigant was subjected to torturous treatment during the transfer.

Having late last month seen the camera footage of an incident where Taylor was transferred from in December last year, Henaghan and Heal say Taylor’s fundamental human rights were breached.

Heal told Newsroom…

…the footage shows Taylor being approached by up to five Corrections security staff at Auckland Prison. He refused to cooperate, in a calm manner, but was forced to the floor and handcuffed. Taylor mumbled for a minute or so, before appearing to become unconscious.

Heal says staff “basically dragged him out of the office, face down, hands cuffed behind his back, with one person at his head, each arm and leg, and someone holding the seat of the remainder of his pants. He’s a big guy so his belly was arched toward the floor”.

“It was all really disturbing. His face was grey, his hands were flaccid in the double handcuffs. He had these twitching muscles and his tongue was darting in and out, twisting and curved. His hands were also grey and puffy.”

Up to 20 officers were seen moving Taylor in the footage, and more than one officer was heard asking whether Taylor was still breathing, Heal says.

Henaghan said he was horrified by the footage…

“It’s hard to believe that so many breaches occurred in such a short period of time…[It’s as if security staff] were going to go through with it no matter what”.

“He was clearly unconscious and you can see him twitching. At this point they should have gotten a doctor straight away. He was strapped into various things and he was carried around like he was some sort of animal on the tray. It was really concerning.

“I know it’s not always popular to stand up for prisoners’ rights but it’s a true test of our framework. If human rights don’t apply to all, especially the most vulnerable in society, then there’s no point in them altogether.”

Henaghan and Heal’s account of the footage contrasts with what was recorded in Corrections medical reports, obtained by Newsroom via Taylor’s right to private information under the Official Information Act.

A Corrections spokesperson told Newsroom:

“On the day of the transfer Mr Taylor was non-compliant with the instructions of staff, and actively resisted being moved. In line with section 83 of the Corrections Act 2004 staff were required to physically move him to the escort vehicle due to his resistance.”

He was transferred in a dedicated prisoner escort vehicle and accompanied by custodial staff and a nurse, the department said.

Corrections, referred Taylor’s complaint relating to the transfer to the police, but maintains the transfer was lawful.

“Police advised Corrections, and Mr Taylor, that the lawfulness of the transfer was a matter for the Judiciary, and that any allegation of assault could not be determined until the issue of lawfulness of the transfer had been resolved, and therefore no further action would be taken.”

Sounds like this needs a proper investigation.

Leave a comment


  1. NOEL

     /  November 6, 2018

    “Arthur Taylor, his lawyer Sue Earl, Otago University former Dean of Law Mark Henaghan, and advocate Hazel Heal want Corrections to release the footage to the public.”

    Why? So you can have it first tried in the Cout of Public Opinion before you start supping at the taxpaer purse?

  2. lurcher1948

     /  November 6, 2018

    I’m sure some koha will make him feel better, which we can then give to his victims, cooperation is the name of the game so no tears here

  3. Gerrit

     /  November 6, 2018

    The fact that the activists and layers happened to be present indicates to me this was staged.

    How come criminals are now “the most vulnerable” in our society?

    They are criminal by choice, not circumstance.

    Cry me a river for the bleeding heart luvies that encourage the criminal to behave in a disobedient manner.

    No investigation needed for a criminal actions whilst playing up for the luvies.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 6, 2018

      The story says they were shown a video, not that they were present.

    • Griff.

       /  November 6, 2018

      Nothing like a rightie who jumps to whacko conspiracy gibbering to make me laugh

      Arthur Taylor, his lawyer Sue Earl, Otago University former Dean of Law Mark Henaghan, and advocate Hazel Heal want Corrections to release the footage to the public.

      They film everything in prison.
      To protect both the prisoners and the guards from false claims.
      In this case corrections is telling porkies about the force used.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  November 6, 2018

        Good to see you relying on those fact based conclusions again Griff. There is an allegation & an investigation. There is no finding either way at this stage.

        • Griff.

           /  November 6, 2018

          Good point.
          lets see the footage.
          I doupt they would be asking for it to be released if it did not support their claims.
          It would not be the first time corrections had been caught telling porkies.

          Corrections must act within the law when dealing with prisoners or they are no better than the criminals they restrain .

          • High Flying Duck

             /  November 6, 2018

            As per below, I agree entirely with your last statement – when proven

  4. Corky

     /  November 6, 2018

    ”The footage shows Taylor being approached by up to five Corrections security staff at Auckland Prison. He refused to cooperate.”

    Simple stuff. The Prick didn’t want to go because he’d have to start all over again at a new prison with bros who may not be in awe of his Perry Mason reputation.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  November 6, 2018

      Probably because it was so long before they were even born that they’d never have heard of Perry Mason.

      I can’t see much resemblance between a fictional American lawyer and an NZ career criminal myself.

  5. High Flying Duck

     /  November 6, 2018

    Corrections must be an invidious job, dealing with people who have no respect for the law or inclination to obey instructions.
    There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed though & making sure what rights the prisoners have have are upheld is important.
    I have a great deal of difficulty with compensation being awarded where the rules are breached, given victims of crime tend to get nothing. Recourse should be through disciplinary action on guards rather than recompense to prisoners.


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