20 Feb 2009

Solicitor-General cleared of wrongdoing over book

8:51 pm on 20 February 2009

A police investigation into an allegation of perjury has cleared Solicitor-General David Collins of any wrongdoing.

The allegation, made by author Anne Hunt, related to sections of an affidavit sworn by Dr Collins for Court of Appeal proceedings in May 2007.

Mrs Hunt's book Broken Silence, published in 2003, deals with the life of a woman who alleged sexual violation by her therapist while undergoing counselling.

It reveals the criminal, civil and professional tribunal proceedings that resulted from the allegations, with the identity of the parties remaining confidential.

Collins involved as barrister at the time

Dr Collins, a barrister then, represented the woman who is the subject of the book. He had also provided legal advice to Mrs Hunt in regard to two of her earlier books.

The High Court banned Broken Silence in 2006 and Mrs Hunt was found guilty of contempt of court and breach of confidence.

She successfully appealed against those findings, however, and the Court of Appeal set aside all orders made by the High Court.

Mrs Hunt alleged that Dr Collins legally assessed sections of the book's manuscript before it was published and then denied the extent of his involvement when she was sued by the therapist mentioned in the book.

Hundreds of documents reviewed

Detective Superintendent Rod Drew says the investigation reviewed hundreds of documents pertaining to Mrs Hunt's six specific grounds of complaint.

He says the investigation, which was independently reviewed by a Queen's Counsel, revealed that she was mistaken in her belief on three of the grounds and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing in regard to the others.

The police investigation is now complete and the file closed; neither the police nor the Crown Law office will comment further.

Keep a paper trail - author

Mrs Hunt, a Horowhenua District Councillor, says Mr Drew visited her on Wednesday and presented her with a six-page letter laying out the findings of the investigation.

She was shattered, she says, but not surprised, as she had no confidence in the investigation. But she accepts that it has closed and has no plans to take the matter further.

Mrs Hunt says it has taught her the importance of keeping a paper trail.