Lack of balance pervades entire wikipedia article
“All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic… “
The wiki article on David Bain contains five times as much information describing the guilty verdict as the non-guilty verdict.
The article has five paragraphs describing what happened at the first trial at which David was found guilty. The section on the Privy Council, which concluded there had been a miscarriage of justice, contains only one paragraph and no detail. The section on the retrial, at which David was found not guilty, contains only two sentences. All it says is:
“The retrial took place at the Christchurch High Court, with the jury sworn in on 6 March 2009, and Bain pleaded not guilty to the five murder charges. The trial lasted about three months and the jury took less than a day to find Bain not guilty on all five charges.”
In other words, the retrial section on wikipedia does not mention any of the information presented by the defence which was the basis for the not guilty verdict. It simply says he was found not guilty – as if it was some kind of anomaly or fluke. This is a distorted and misleading representation of what actually happened.
Key information missing from Privy Council section
David’s defence team presented new evidence on nine different points of evidence to the Privy Council. In wikipedia these points are so abbreviated that the article doesn’t describe even one of them in any detail. All it says is:
In March 2007, Bain’s legal team, including Karam, travelled to London to lay out nine arguments before the Privy Council as to why his convictions should be quashed. Two of the nine points concerned Robin Bain’s mental state and possible motive. The other seven points concerned questions about particular pieces of evidence.
As a result, wikipedia omits all the information necessary for the reader to understand why the Privy Council came to the conclusion that there had been a miscarriage of justice.
The section on Joe Karam has been removed entirely:
Joe Karam played a key role on David’s long battle for freedom and then fought for his compensation once he was released. There used to be a separate section in wikipedia describing his involvement in the case. But currently he gets only three lines in passing under the section headed appeals. This means the extensive evidence that Karam put together suggesting that David was innocent and that Robin was the likely killer is entirely missing from the page.
This is the information on Joe Karam that has been removed from wikipedia:
Joe Karam subsequently spearheaded a lengthy campaign to have Bain’s convictions overturned. Karam had been appalled at the way the family, the Police and the Fire Service arranged to burn the Bain house down. He felt something was wrong with the case and began to study the evidence presented at the original trial. He went to visit Bain in prison in Christchurch and subsequently visited him over 200 times. From 1997 to 2012, Karam wrote four books about Bain’s case and helped him in his numerous appeals. Karam was subsequently described in the media as a ‘freedom fighter’. Without his support, it is unlikely there would ever have been a retrial.
Over the years, details of the evidence presented at the original trial and subsequent hearings were relitigated at social gatherings and on the internet. The case remained controversial, including after Bain was found not guilty, and often produced quite ‘visceral’ responses. Karam’s motives were questioned and he was frequently criticised and attacked on social media for his support of Bain. In response, he successfully sued or took defamation cases against North & South magazine, the New Zealand Herald, and journalist Rosemary McLeod. In 2014, he was awarded $535,000 following a suit against Kent Parker and Victor Perkiss for over 50 defamatory posts the pair made on Facebook and Counterspin. However Kent Parker said he couldn’t pay and applied for bankruptcy while Purkiss avoided payment by taking off to England.
The reality is that if it hadn’t been for Joe Karam, David would still be in prison. But in the wikipedia article, Karam gets only three lines for his role in a legal battle that lasted 22 years.
a) About the judges: There is no mention of the vastly differing reputations of the two judges charged with investigating David’s compensation claim – Ian Binnie and Ian Callinan. Binnie had an impeccable reputation as an international jurist; Callinan had a very dodgy reputation and, by all accounts, was only appointed as a judge in Australia because of his conservative views. He seems to have been appointed to adjudicate Bain’s compensation claim for the same reason.
b) About the quality of Callinan’s report: Although the article contains some analysis of Binnie’s report (by Judith Collins and Robert Fisher), there is no analysis whatsoever of Ian Callinan’s conclusion that David had not proved his case. Joe Karam pointed out that Callinan’s report contained many of the same errors that Binnie was accused of making, which is why he and the defence team were going to challenge it in court. The only reason this challenge didn’t go ahead was because David decided to accept the $925,000 non-compensation offered by the Crown. One of the conditions of acceptance was that he had give up all further legal action.
c) About Judith Collins: Judith Collins’ decision to give a copy of Binnie’s report to the Solicitor General and the Police is mentioned in the wikipedia article, but her decision not to give a copy to David’s defence team is not. Although the article says that Bain subsequently filed a claim in the High Court alleging Collins had breached natural justice, it doesn’t say why; and there is no indication of the controversy this caused or the bias that Collins displayed in handling the case.
Although the article mentions that the public mostly thought Bain should receive compensation, there is no mention of the criticism from numerous academics about the Government’s handling of the compensation claim which, in the end, involved three lengthy reports and cost just as much in legal fees as David got paid out.
The wikipedia page about David Bain does not adhere to wiki policies about balance and neutrality. As such it does not do David justice. That sounds familiar…