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Corrections ordered to give prisoner files

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/06/2017

A convicted murderer has won a legal battle to get access to his court files from Corrections and forced the department to change a rule.

Stephen Hudson was in 2009 sentenced to life in jail with no parole for 16 years for the murder of Nicholas Pike. He has since run out of appeals.

Hudson still maintains his innocence and is hoping to get an investigative journalist to look at his case to find new evidence.

But when he asked Corrections to see his files again last July so he could brief the reporter, the department declined, saying he could only get access to documents if he still had a legal case going.

Although Corrections did eventually give Hudson access to the files in September following protest, he pressed on with a legal appeal anyway.

Now, the High Court at Whanganui has overturned Correction's rule, saying the department wasn't within its power to reject the request and acted unlawfully.

Justice Rebecca Ellis said the fact Hudson wanted to give information to a journalist made the argument it was a breach of the Bill of Rights Act's "freedom of expression" section stronger.

"I consider that the blanket prohibition on prisoners such as Mr Hudson accessing their legal papers is contrary to [the section]," she said.

Comment has been requested from Corrections.

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