16 Nov 2011

Scott Watson decision 'unlikely' before election

11:48 am on 16 November 2011

The office of Justice Minister Simon Power says it's likely he will leave the post without having decided on a convicted double-murderer's mercy plea.

Scott Watson is serving life in prison for killing Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, who disappeared in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year's Day in 1998.

It's almost three years since Watson applied for the royal prerogative of mercy.

The decision-making process has been slowed by paperwork moving between his lawyers and the Justice Ministry.

A Watson supporter Keith Hunter called on Mr Power last month to honour his earlier intention of making a recommendation on the case before retiring from politics.

The minister's office says a decision is now very unlikely before the election, as it awaits further material from Watson's legal team.

Mr Hunter has meanwhile written another letter to Mr Power, accusing him of weak-kneed cowardice.