Banks seeking costs for 'grave injustice,' judge apologises
UPDATED July 14 2016: Banks denied 'grave injustice' costs
It is difficult to imagine a "more worthy" applicant for court costs than the victim of "fabricated evidence," John Banks' lawyer says.
But the Crown, which is opposing any costs award to Mr Banks, has argued there was no evidence that suggested what was being said by Kim Dotcom in a case that argued Mr Banks had filed a false electoral return when he was Auckland City mayor was fabricated, and the case "had to go to trial."
Mr Banks was convicted on that charge but that was overturned by the Court of Appeal after Mr Bank's wife tracked down two witnesses who had been present at a lunch held by Mr Dotcom and about which he had testified. Mrs Banks did that after her original evidence was criticised during the High Court case.
The High Court judge today publicly apologised to Mr Banks' wife after earlier questioning her credibility.
The former National cabinet minister and ACT MP today sought $190,000 in costs after the Court of Appeal last year acquitted him and ruled he should not be re-tried.
He was earlier this year awarded over $66,200 in costs from the Crown for the hearings that led to his acquittal.
His lawyer David Jones, QC, today told Justice Ed Wylie in the High Court at Auckland there was now a "certain amount of water under the bridge" and the dynamic of the case had been "turned on its head."
But the only outstanding issue was High Court costs, which Mr Banks sought, having suffered a "grave injustice."
This was because the evidence given in the High Court for the Crown was "fabricated," specifically from Kim Dotcom, Mona Dotcom and Mr Dotcom's former bodyguard, Wayne Tempero.
Every decision resulting in the conviction was then made based on the fabricated evidence, Mr Jones said.
"Mr Dotcom has been caught out lying.
"It is difficult to imagine a more worthy applicant than someone who's been the victim of fabricated evidence."
Mr Jones said the Crown's opposition showed a "blinkered approach" and it fails to say what its case would be despite saying it would still go ahead.
"This displays an intention to pursue the case and not accept responsibility for things that haven't been done properly."
As well as costs, Mr Jones asked the judge make reference to Mr Banks' wife, Amanda, who had tracked down witnesses who had been at a lunch at which Mr Dotcom claimed donations had been discussed, saying her position had now been "vindicated."
No evidence of fabrication
Crown lawyer John Billington, QC, said the prosecution was properly and reasonably brought.
There was no evidence available to the Crown that suggested what was being said by the Dotcoms and Mr Tempero was fabricated.
"This was a case that had to go to trial."
Justice Wylie reserved his decision as to costs but then asked Mr Jones if he could address his client, Mr Banks, directly.
The judge told Mr Banks he now accepts the findings he made as to Mrs Banks' credibility were in error and asked for his apologies to be passed on.
"It's important I say this in public with the benefit of what I know now."