1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Terms of Reference (1)(a)(i)
(review of overseas reports & memoranda)
The review has shown that the New Zealand methodology of 1991 for interviewing children in suspected abuse cases was well up with and, in many respects, in advance of the corresponding arrangements discussed in the overseas materials.
Terms of Reference (1)(b)
(whether the investigations and interviews conducted in accordance with best practice)
Both the International Experts (Professor Davies and Dr Sas) considered that the interviewing was of an appropriate standard. In Professor Davies' opinion it was of a high quality for its time. Even by present day standards it was of a good overall quality. The interviews did not meet best practice standards in every respect, and if that degree of perfection were the test, few if any interviews of this kind would pass.
Aspects of the systems set in place for the investigation could have been improved. However, that made no significant difference to the outcome.
Questioning and investigations by some parents exceeded what was desirable and had the potential for contaminating children's accounts.
Terms of Reference (1)(c)
(the nature & extent of risk to which any breaches of best practice give rise)
Regarding possible contamination, Dr Sas considered that the evidence of the six remaining "conviction" children had not been seriously affected. Their evidence was reliable, and Dr Sas expressed the view that there would probably have been more convictions, had the contamination issue not been given such prominence.
Professor Davies did not express a final view about the effects of contamination. However, he did not believe that cross-talk alone was sufficient to explain the similar accusations made, particularly in relation to occurrences in the creche toilets.
I am unconvinced that cross-talk between parents, and excessive questioning by them, could account for the detailed, similar accounts given by so many children, in separate interviews stretching over many months.
Terms of Reference (3)
(whether any matters which give rise to doubts about assessment of children's evidence to an extent which would render convictions unsafe and warrant grant of pardon)
The case advanced on behalf of Mr Ellis has failed, by a distinct margin, to satisfy the Inquiry that the convictions were unsafe, or that a particular conviction was unsafe. On the matters referred to me in this Inquiry, I do not consider the grant of a pardon is warranted.