Nelson MP Nick Smith has blasted Lewis Stanton over the cost of his on going dispute with Nelson City Council.
Dr Smith released a strongly worded media statement earlier this morning saying that legal aid costs have reached $45,684 and legal costs to Nelson City Council total $53,451.
Mr Stanton, who likes to be known as Hone Ma Heke, is involved in a long-running dispute with the council over parking tickets incurred from his horse Barney, which has since be confiscated by SPCA.
Mr Stanton is due to face the courts again on Monday over an alleged assault between him and a protestor upset with Mr Stanton’s ongoing Trafalgar St occupation of the footpath outside Farmers.
“Lewis Stanton’s case has become an expensive legal farce essentially over parking tickets,” says Dr Smith.
“There are ninety nine better ways $99,000 of taxpayers and ratepayers money could have been spent.”
Information provided from the Ministry of Justice to Dr Smith through the Official Information Act, reveals that Stanton has had 29 successful legal aid applications totalling $45,684 of this, $41,698 relate to the six-year battle with the council.
Dr Smith has written to Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell seeking a review of the criteria for legal aid.
“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 says the purpose of the letter is not to seek the Associate Justice Minister’s comment but to “highlight the policy issue of legal aid being used by serial litigants that clog up the court system and which undermine the public confidence in our justice system.”
Stanton has incurred over 700 parking tickets, and has now filed a $400,000 claim against the Council, SPCA, and the Attorney General for a perceived breach of his human rights.