Foord's is one of those troubling free speech stories which we have carried since Dec. 2000: a writer who has had his reputation smeared by corrupt officials who furthered their careers, much as Brian Dueck has done in Saskatchewan. And still, nothing has been done to correct the situation! In 2002, We learned about Loren Schinkel of the Winnipeg Police who manufactured a statement to frame Monique Turenne.
March 25, 2003: Neil Foord has been looking all over the world for a lawyer to take his case. He e-mailed to say he had finally found one. I hope he is able to get some serious compensation because what has been done to him is truly criminal!
Neil Foord died in 2007
First the Justice Dept banned The Scam - NZ's most controversial novel. Then the attacks on the author really started.
Then the Police seized Kidnap - another novel of favours and corruption.
Then they sent him to jail using The Scam as 'evidence' of 'fact'.
This was an immigration scheme devised by Rod West, Labour Party Taupo branch secretary - and also owner of Bobby's Massage Parlour, Taupo, and proprietor of Argus Philippine Computer Introduction Services, which supplied 'sex workers' for the massage parlour. By this method he saved his Filipina overstayer ladyfriend from deportation. The officer in charge of this case, Peter McKennie of Porirua, arranged with the Immigration Service for her to receive permanent residence in NZ. This was the prime objective. McKennie himself received a promotion to sergeant.
And West? He used to be called Rudolf Brouwer, until Rape Crisis in Palmerston challenged him and he ran away and changed his name. He used to beat his wife. He attacked a bailiff with a sword and, guess what, had his name suppressed. Not a bad effort for a Labour Party official.
Wellington barrister Kenneth Bulmer was warned by other more senior Wellington lawyers that helping with this case would harm his career. This proved correct - funds dried up as legal aid cases were withheld from him, and after battles with judges he gave up his practising certificate and his career.
In 1982 in New Zealand, Accident Compensation payments were made available to victims of sex crimes, encouraging a dramatic rise in complaints of rape and other sex crimes.
To be accused, by a woman who has second thoughts afterwards, or who is seeking rewards, or is caught out in infidelity, or complains for any malicious reason, is to be judged guilty. Perjury is being ignored routinely. NZ's recently introduced Bill of Rights Act is flouted daily. The State pays the accuser even in the rare cases when the man is acquitted. The fear of prosecution for fraud or perjury stops women from recanting.
See the Greg Parsons case where he was convicted of murdering his mother, based partly on lyrics to a punk rock song he had written. That conviction has since been overturned. Also: "Twisted" Ontario teenager | U.S. Highschool student censored for Halloween story
The Scam as "evidence".
I wrote The Scam in 1980-83 and published it at the end of 1986. Among other controversies at the time, in July 1987, the Justice Department bought 23 copies for prison libraries but banned the book and recalled it before prisoners could see it. A newspaper article at the time said: "A Justice Department spokesman was unable to comment yesterday". From my experience in newspapers, this is the language of disapproval. The department denied the ban but the documents, the original purchase order and the ban sent out to prisons, have been obtained, despite official obstruction during several years of inquiries.
The Scam reappeared in 1991, used as "evidence".
A subplot of corruption in The Scam would explain why the book was used in criminal proceedings. In one key scene, corrupt lawyer Russell Hayman has been given a lead to the anti-hero of the story by a police officer doing the lawyer an unofficial favour. The lawyer meets the hero, Simon Hayes, at lunch in the Wellington Club, and blackmails him into taking on a debt-collecting job on behalf of tycoon and wife-abuser Bretton Clifford by threatening to reveal knowledge of a private hit Hayes has done in Queenstown as the story opens.
1. When prosecutor John Upton and "defence" counsel John Billington were deciding how to conduct the trial, they agreed on what would and would not be used as evidence. The Scam was introduced as new evidence, of which I was not aware, at the end of proceedings, with two scenes in which women offer themselves to men for advantages marked for the jury's attention and a copy of the book given to them to take out while they deliberated. This means Upton had looked through the book for scenes that he could use to his advantage. He would therefore have been aware of this scene, as would Billington. Billington made no objection at the time to the use of The Scam as evidence, even though I was not aware that it would be used, and he has since defended the prosecution's use of The Scam.
2. From their point of view, The Scam has points to which they as lawyers could be expected to object:
3. Missed or neglected was a scene in which Hayman's client, the arrogant tycoon Clifford, forces himself on his long-suffering wife Sarah; as the story finishes she leaves him without provoking any hostilities. Clifford meets his end, as is right and proper, but not by her agency. Her subplot is at once a cautionary tale and an example of how to deal with a difficult situation without making things worse than necessary.
4. There are other scenes in which Hayman appears in a poor light; Upton and Billington could not have been expected to do anything other than take exception to these scenes and to the story, bleak as it is, as a whole. 5. Upton told the jury in closing that because I write fiction, I could not be expected to tell the truth.
At least one review of The Scam picks out the theme that took most work of all, how abused wife Sarah gets out of her abusive marriage without starting a war, which she could have done.
Upton missed a less dramatic scene, which might have been too subtle for him to find on a superficial skim through the book looking for scenes to use as weapons, where Sarah's nasty tycoon husband forces himself on her... and she just waits, then gets away when she can and ignores all the foregoing. This is a rape scene, and it was most important to the story.
The manuscript of The Scam was read before publication by Tom Goddard, as he was before his appointment as a judge, a lawyer acknowledged as an expert in libel and employed by newspapers to vet potentially contentious articles before publication: he assured me there was no cause for concern. The Scam was also was assessed from strict feminist and other women's viewpoints. Fool women are shown as fools, brute men are made plain. Good examples are good irrespective of gender. The police had seized [and kept for two years] more than 1000 pages of printouts from the house, the first draft of another story still in development. This new work is a kidnap story, with some scenes that are meant to be scary, worse than anything in The Scam, but as usual by suggestion rather than gory detail, crediting the reader with imagination and intelligence. I was certain and afraid that some of these scenes would be used.
Otago University Professor of Law Richard Sutton, who is also a member of the Law Commission, says it was monstrous to use The Scam to jail me -- and the book was inadmissible.
Former judge Michael Guest has said that the judge, the late John Rabone, should have stopped the trial when Upton introduced the book, even if defence counsel John Billington did not object. I had warned Billington of common fallacies about writers, and insisted that expert evidence be called about the distinction between fact and fiction, but he scorned this. So the jury was sent out with a copy of the book to read and the admonition to the effect that because I write fiction, they could not expect me to tell the truth.
Worse, when then Pen NZ President Kevin Ireland queried Billington about the use of The Scam, he replied defending the prosecution's use of the book, and adding gratuitous comments.
These two letters are on file; Billington's is a breach of the Law Practitioners' Act and forms part of an extensive complaint against him. He withheld PEN's letter of support for more than three years.
Sara Whyatt of International Pen's Writers in Prison Committee in London suggested that I contact other writers' organisations on the use of The Scam as evidence, and has done so herself. PEN has lists of hundreds of cases of journalists and writers being punished, jailed, beaten, and killed.
None of my advisers or other contacts had heard of books' being used in this manner, except against writers in countries as repressive as the former Soviet Union.
This case leaves a dangerous precedent that can be used in the future in NZ and other countries with a similar legal system.
No writer can be defended against any accusation at all. Any writer of any fiction [poet, lyricist, playwright, TV scriptwriter, film scriptwriter, etc] is vulnerable to a similar attack, all the more so because of this case.
If any such writer in a Commonwealth country, where this case may be used as a precedent, is so threatened, a file on this case and legal advice on negating its effect are available by contacting me.