Stephen Franks on the Sutch Verdict

Lawyer and former ACT MP, Stephen Franks, posted this interesting insight on the Sutch verdict on David Farrar’s Kiwi Blog yesterday.

“Was Sutch Guilty?

I have no doubt that Dr Sutch’s defense lawyer at the trial, Michael Bungay, believed his client was guilty.

Bungay was a flamboyant man who loved company. He needed to share his pride after the jury’s “not guilty” verdict.

It came early in the evening. I was working alone in the Law Society Library, unaware of the drama across the corridor in the No 1 Supreme Court. The library gave lawyer access to the robing room, where barristers kept their special shirts, collars, wigs and gowns.

That particular evening there was nobody else in the library or the robing room.

Bungay came in fully robed, plainly looking for someone to share the moment. He did not know me then. I was simply a junior member of the fraternity, someone who could at least appreciate the verdict’s professional significance.

He told me the result, then could not resist adding – “that’s a first – the first spy to be acquitted in New Zealand”.

I have no doubt that he meant every word. In those days I moved more in left wing circles than today. Leading up to the trial the left had reassured itself that the charges must be trumped up, a product of SIS “Readers Digest” style anti-communist paranoia. The evidence at the trial was shattering. Stories circulated of his vanity, much greater than the ordinary leftist intellectual snobbery. Why had Sutch met clandestinely with the Soviets? Still we told each other there must be a respectable explanation.

Bungay knew there was not, and briefly, at that moment of triumph, he wanted the scale of his achievement appreciated.”

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