The Dominion Post reports:
Forty-one former student protesters feel justified with a $200,000 out-of-court settlement for police abuses at a Parliament protest in 1997, with two apologies the icing on the cake.
They will receive written apologies from the police commissioner and the Speaker’s office because the Speaker of the House at the time, Doug Kidd, trespassed the students who were protesting about the education policies of the National government.
The students had sued the Speaker and police for Bill of Rights breaches, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, before settling this week.
More than 300 students were part of the protests, with 75 arrested. All of those who defended the charges had them thrown out.
Twelve years! Yes, it has taken twelve years for the creaking wheels of justice to turn sufficiently far settle this case. That’s an absolute disgrace.
It should have been readily apparent to the Office of the Speaker and to the Police when all the criminal charges against the protesters were thrown out by the District Court that their rights had been breached.
So what conceivable reason could there have been for dragging this case out for twelve years before settling? And how did our justice system allow a case like this to drag on that long without setting the claim down for trial to put an end to it one way or another?