A Fair suck of the sauce bottle!



On a bleak day last August I sat in the High Court where Kathryn (see Kathryn’s story) sought the right from Justice Faire to have her case heard in the Court of Appeal.

The previous High Court hearing had denied her justice.  MSD have been determined to hound her for the past 16 years for the repayment of a debt arising from a crime she denies committing and for which she was sentenced to 15months jail, of which she served 6 months with devastating impact on her children. Her youngest child was only 5.

What was the crime you ask?  She was dobbed in by a vindictive ex ‘partner’ for getting income support in the mid-1990s as a sole parent when he alleged she was with him. She has always denied it was a relationship in the nature of marriage. Rather than plead guilty and show remorse, as others are advised to do to get a lesser sentence, she has steadfastly maintained her innocence.  His dobbing in was his revenge for her bringing a case against him when she found he had been molesting her children.  

MSD still claims she owes $115,000. Since she came out of jail  Kathryn has refused to pay the $20 a week demanded by MSD out of her meagre invalid’s benefit and the case has been back and forth in the courts for 15 years at a total financial cost of well over what she owes.  The human cost to her and her family is incalculable.

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I looked round the tiny court room that day in the High Court.  There were a few CPAG supporters, Judge Faire, two officials from WINZ in black, 2 legal reps from Crown Law and the indefatigable Frances Joychild QC who has been vigorously and ably defending Kathryn largely pro bono. She does it because this case has enormous ramifications for other debt ridden beneficiaries, mostly women with children.

Kathryn herself was too sick to be there. At stake was her right to have her case heard in a higher court, not the substance of her actual case against the reparations, nor the original conviction.

At one surreal moment, Justice Faire pondered whether the reparation could be reduced to $10 a week. That, he mused out loud, would mean it would take her about 20 years to repay in full.  Fortunately one of the Crown lawyers was sufficiently awake to say “Sorry your Honour. Don’t you have the decimal point in the wrong place?  It would actually take 200 years!”

Kathryn’s health is very poor. Even repaying $5000 over ten years is a cruel ask.  Ironically the costs of the hearing alone would probably be around $5000.  

Justice Faire was the one who made the previous High Court decision to send her back to the Social Security Review Authority for them to determine repayments. Now he was judge and jury as to whether she could have his decision reviewed in a higher court. So how did Justice Faire sum it all up?  Guess what, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas:

It is clear that [Kathryn] has a significant private interest in the decision; it involves a debt of over $100,000. What is not clear is whether there is a general or public interest which warrants the case being heard by the Court of Appeal. I consider there is not.

Fair dos Judge Faire!

Now Frances Joychild will have to take the case to ask for the right to go to the Court of Appeal, to the Court of Appeal in Wellington on the 28th November.

It is all very weird in a world where a rugby player can do a real crime with real victims and not even get a conviction because it would hurt his career. Women without means can have their lives ruined because they must be made examples of as warning to others, while the plight of their children can be totally ignored.   Fairly disgraceful.


  1. The system is rotten to the core..

    We have had politicians double dipping , ripping off the tax payers and only when caught out and shown up as the arse hole he is, did he offer to repay.
    But no worries, he is still in charge of the nations purse strings, no court battle for him.

    This Judge needs to have a human face and give this lady a break.

    • Sadly even if he did, enormous damage has already been inflicted. The reason CPAG commissioned lawyer Catriona MacLennan to write up Kathryn’s story was to provide some insight into the lives of the women that judges treat so punitively. Clearly it had no impact on this hearing. I hope that the Wellington hearing is packed out to give a sharp message that something is rotten in the state of so called ‘relationship fraud’ prosecutions and reparations.

      • If sanity reigned and the benefit was no longer reduced for a relationship, there would go all this insanity.

        And there is no logic to the backdating of this debt on an ex’s claim. This is vindictive bureaucratic dystopian hell.

        • PB absolutely – crazy to punish people for being maried and sadly even in less formal relationships.
          I like ‘vindictive bureaucratic dystopian hell’ VBDH well said

  2. The ever to dedicated, hard working Frances Joychild, QC, she deserves thanks and respect for fighting for Kathryn.

    What MSD are doing is just plain nasty, out of a Charles Dickens story, I presume, and so fitting they come dressed in BLACK.

    The Judge appears to be above reality and lacking humane feelings, perhaps “judicial” positions require this, a detachment from emotions?

    So it goes on, it is disgusting indeed, and so many on benefits live in fear, always wondering, “am I allowed to do this?” “Am I allowed to challenge their decision?”

    Hence many do not even bother holding WINZ officers to account when they make bizarre, at times very unreasonable and unjust decisions.

    This is what drives people to rather sleep in cars or even sleep rough in any weather.

    What a disgrace New Zealand has become under this rotten government!

    • What a disgrace New Zealand has become under this rotten government!

      This government has certainly made it worse but it’s never really been good. Beneficiaries have always been at the mercy of government simply because they cannot afford justice.

      This persons only real option is to appeal the first conviction. If she can win that then there’s no grounds for everything else that’s happened to her and she should get compensation.

  3. Thanks Susan for keeping us informed about this act of malice started by her ex, and continued by Winz and now the ‘justice’ system. May I ask if he was convicted for child molestation do u know? I bet he got off or was acquitted, as that is what frequently happens, and did not pay for his crime or get rehabilitation etc, so why again is she facing such an enormous repayment and harrassment, when the crime against the child seems to just be glossed over?

    • Her children’s evidence was not believed and he was acquited. He dobbed her in and she went to jail. If she did get money and he was genuinely with her he was a beneficiary of her so called fraud. He had previous convictions for paedaphilia. It just gets worse. Read Kathryn’s story. Link in article
      You can’t make this stuff up

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