28 Aug 2015

Scott Watson cleared to give media interview

5:50 pm on 28 August 2015

A magazine interview with convicted murderer Scott Watson is to go ahead, and the father of one of the victims wants to be there too.

Scott Watson in High Court.

Scott Watson in High Court. Photo: Pool / John Kirk-Anderson

The department has approved an application from North and South magazine journalist Mike White to interview Watson, who is in Rolleston Prison for the 1998 murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope.

Their bodies were never found.

Corrections had previously turned down Mr White's application, but reconsidered it following a High Court ruling issued in June, which determined that "where no concerns of prison security are raised, and where the communication is to a reputable journalist, then that is a circumstance where the (freedom of expression right) in the NZ Bill of Rights Act should almost always prevail".

The department said the interview would be subject to certain conditions related to prison security and the interests of victims.

Olivia Hope's father, Gerald Hope, said Corrections had approved his request to be at the interview and it was now up to Watson to accept.

"I believe I have something to add to [Mike White's] discussion with Scott. I have questions, which I don't intend to reveal in advance, but I believe they are warranted and they should be asked," he said.

"I think, with Mike being there to record it accurately, both my questions and the answers given by Scott, then both parties will be satisfied."

Mr White said he had no idea if it was logistically possible for Mr Hope to visit Watson at the same time.

He said, although Mr Hope had applied to visit Watson as well, it was up to Watson and Corrections to allow that.

Ben's mother, Mary Smart, had opposed Mr White's interview with Watson, whose bid for parole this year was rejected because he was judged at high risk of violent reoffending.

The interview will be conditional on the journalist not sharing any recording of the interview and it never being broadcast.

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