It’s just been reported that John Banks has been successful in his appeal, with the Court of Appeal overturning his conviction and ordering a new trial.
The appeal hinged on the evidence of two US-based businessmen, David Schaeffer and Jeffery Karnes, who were at the lunch with Dotcom, Banks and their respective wives, when Dotcom claimed the donations were discussed. The Court has stated that:
“Although it was not fresh evidence, the Court was satisfied that if the evidence has been before Justice Wylie the outcome may have been different.”
The new trial will certainly be interesting, given the hit Dotcom’s credibility has taken over the Moment of Truth, and the forged email. However, the key piece of evidence for Justice Wylie wasn’t the lunchtime conversation. Instead, it was Mr Banks’ phone conversation on 8 February 2012 with Dotcom’s lawyer, Gregory Towers, in which Mr Towers called Banks to try and get Dotcom a better mattress in prison. Justice Wylie wrote at para 128 of his judgment:
“He [Mr Towers] said that Mr Banks told him that as much as he wished to publically [sic] support Mr Dotcom, it might backfire on Mr Dotcom if “it b/comes known about election support etc”. Mr Towers recorded this comment in a contemporaneous file note. He was confident that he had recorded the words that were spoken to him as best as he could. There was no evidence of Mr Dotcom having provided any other “election support” for Mr Banks. … I was satisfied that the discussion recorded in the file note could only have been a reference to the $50,000 donation by Mr Dotcom to Mr Banks’ 2010 mayoral campaign. In my view, Mr Towers’ evidence, and the file note, was compelling evidence, from a witness whose testimony was unimpeachable, that Mr Banks knew that the donations had, in fact, been made by Mr Dotcom.”
Will the new evidence lessen the impact of Gregory Towers’ evidence? Can Banks point to what other “election support” was provided by Dotcom? We shall see…
The saga rolls on…