Nelson MP Nick Smith says taxpayers and ratepayers are being taken for a ride by serial protestor Lewis Stanton with legal aid costs topping $45,684 and legal costs to Nelson City Council of $53,451.
“Lewis Stanton’s case has become an expensive legal farce essentially over parking tickets. There are ninety nine better ways $99,000 of taxpayers and ratepayers money could have been spent. The full cost to the public purse would be over double this amount if the costs of council staff, police, court staff and Judge’s time were also included.
Dr Smith requested under the Official Information Act the number of times and costs of Mr Lewis Stanton’s legal aid applications and was shocked to learn from the Ministry of Justice that he has had 29 successful applications totalling $45,684. $41,698 relate to the ongoing stoush with the Council that has spanned six years.
“Legal aid is important for ensuring lower income people are able to get a fair trial when facing serious criminal charges, but such funds should not be used for a serial litigant to fight the council over hundreds and hundreds of parking fines and the compounding disputes arising from these.”
Dr Smith has written to the Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell seeking a review of the criteria for legal aid.
“I am drawing the case to the new Associate Minister’s attention to highlight the injustice of having taxpayers fund this sort of serial dispute. My ambition is for policy changes that will tighten the criteria for funding. I am appalled that even after having cost ratepayers and taxpayers over $99,000 Mr Stanton is now suing the Council, SPCA, and the Attorney General for a further $400,000 claiming breaches of his human rights. It is the rights of taxpayers and ratepayers to have their money spent usefully and wisely that is the greatest injustice in this case” Dr Smith concluded.
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