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Doubt over Hope/Watson meeting going ahead

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/08/2016

The journalist who wants to attend a meeting between Gerald Hope and the man convicted of murdering his daughter doubts a court ruling will cause the Department of Corrections to change its mind.

Corrections was on Thursday told by the High Court to reconsider its ban on journalist Mike White recording the meeting between Mr Hope and Scott Watson, convicted for the 1998 murder of Mr Hope's daughter Olivia,17, and 21-year-old Ben Smart.

The pair were last seen boarding a yacht moored off Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year's Day, 1998.

Their bodies have never been found.

White says he hopes Corrections will take the court order into consideration.

"I'd like to think the meeting will take place and that I can attend," he told Newshub's Paul Henry Show on Friday.

"But I'm over trying to second-guess Corrections, and what obstacles they might come up with... it seems that at every turn Corrections comes up with something new, some other reason to prevent this meeting happening."

There's no ban on Mr Hope meeting Watson, but they both insist White is there so an independent third party knows what was said.

White said Mr Hope had wanted the meeting for 18 years.

"All these years he's lived with the uncertainty of whether the right man is in jail for murdering his daughter," he said.

"We're not going to find out whether Scott Watson is innocent or guilty just because Gerald Hope eyeballs him across a table, but this is another element in the process."

White said he had no opinion on Watson's guilt or innocence, and both sides approached him independently to ask him to attend the meeting.

"Gerald Hope understands the value of having a level playing field with an independent person there to record what happens, so there's no grounds for confusion or controversy."

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