Judge Ian Callinan

Ian Callinan is a retired High Court judge from Australia with a controversial background. He had close links with the Queensland Government and, in his first case as a judge on the High Court, he was forced to stand down because of perceived bias towards the Government’s position in that case – see About Justice Ian Callinan. 

Nevertheless, Amy Adams appointed him to conduct the second review of David Bain’s compensation claim. On 18 February, 2016, the NZ Herald reported that Cabinet had received Callinan’s report  which “found that Bain did not meet the threshold of ‘innocent beyond reasonable doubt’,”  and said this dealt “a blow to Bain’s compensation claim for wrongful imprisonment”.  

After Judge Ian Callinan’s decision was leaked to the media on 18 February, 2016, radio talkback host Mike Hosking rang Ian Binnie in Canada to get his comments (3:55).  Comparing the case to that of Lindy Chamberlain in Australia, Binnie said:  “This case is becoming quite well known internationally. I just don’t think the New Zealand Government has a leg to stand on.”   

​But Callinan provided the gimpy leg the Government needed.  He conducted his investigation into the case but never met with or interviewed David as part of that investigation.  Nevertheless, when Justice Minister Amy Adams finally announced the Government’s decision in August 2016, she also released the full report which said:

“The applicant has not proved on the balance of probabilities that he did not kill his siblings and his parents on the morning of the 20th June 1994” (para 407). 

David Bain’s & Joe Karam’s response

David was quoted  in the media as being ‘disgusted’ that Ian Callinan formed his opinion without even bothering to interview him.  He said his rights were “completely abused” by Justice Callinan  who made “extremely hurtful” comments in finding Bain had not proved his innocence “on the balance of probabilities”.  Failing to allow a witness to respond to criticism was one of the reasons the 2012 report by Canadian judge Ian Binnie, was discarded by Judith Collins (on Robert Fisher’s advice).

Joe Karam described Callinan’s report as a ‘train wreck’. He said it contained  numerous issues of concern  and that Callinan had made many of the same “mistakes” that Binnie was accused of. He pointed out that whereas Binnie’s report was rejected because of these alleged ‘errors of principle’, Callinan’s was accepted – because it suited the Government’s stance on the case.  The defence team informed the Government they intended to challenge the quality and integrity of  Callinan’s report in court.