Thomas Thorp

Last updated

Sir Thomas Murray Thorp KNZM (1 December 1925 [1] – 17 October 2018) was a New Zealand lawyer and jurist who served as a judge of the High Court of New Zealand.

High Court of New Zealand Court in New Zealand

The High Court of New Zealand is the superior court of New Zealand. It has general jurisdiction and responsibility, under the Senior Courts Act 2016, as well as the High Court Rules 2016, for the administration of justice throughout New Zealand. There are 18 High Court locations throughout New Zealand, plus one stand-alone registry.


Professional career

From 1963 to 1979, Thorp was the Crown Solicitor in Gisborne.[ citation needed ] He sat as a judge in the High Court of New Zealand from 1979 until 1996.[ citation needed ] In the 1997 New Year Honours, Thorp was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, in recognition of his service as a judge of the High Court. [2]

Gisborne, New Zealand Urban area in Gisborne Region, New Zealand

Gisborne is a city in northeastern New Zealand and the largest settlement in the Gisborne District. It has a population of 37,200. The district council has its headquarters in Whataupoko, in the central city.

The New Year Honours 1997 were appointments by most of the Commonwealth realms of Queen Elizabeth II to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries, and honorary ones to citizens of other countries. They were announced on 31 December 1996, to celebrate the year passed and mark the beginning of 1997 in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Christopher and Nevis.

Thorp served as chairman of the National Parole Board and sat as a member of the Court of Appeal.[ citation needed ]

Court of Appeal of New Zealand New Zealands main intermediate appellate court

The Court of Appeal of New Zealand is principal intermediate appellate court of New Zealand. It is also the final appellate court for a number of matters. In practice, most appeals are resolved at this intermediate appellate level, rather than in the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal has existed as a separate court since 1862 but, until 1957, it was composed of Judges of the High Court sitting periodically in panels. In 1957 the Court of Appeal was reconstituted as a permanent court separate from the High Court. It is located in Wellington.

Later life and death

After his retirement as a judge, Thorp wrote reports into some controversial matters.[ citation needed ]

In 1997, he reviewed New Zealand's gun control measures, and recommended that all firearms be registered.[ citation needed ] He also wrote a report into the David Bain case in which he said he was satisfied with the trial verdict.[ citation needed ]

In 1999, he wrote a report into the Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis case.[ citation needed ] Thorp expressed misgivings with aspects of the case. He could find no corroboration of the children's claims of sexual abuse. He said that section 23G of the Evidence Act should be repealed because it allowed an expert to say that there was no behaviour inconsistent with sexual abuse. His report recommended that the Justice Ministry obtain the opinion of Stephen J. Ceci with regard to the children's evidence.[ citation needed ] The Ministry has ignored this and other recommendations from Thorp's report.[ citation needed ] His report contrasts with that written by Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, which upheld Ellis's conviction.[ citation needed ]

Stephen J. Ceci is an American psychologist at Cornell University. He studies the accuracy of children's courtroom testimony, and he is an expert in the development of intelligence and memory. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Lifetime Contribution Awards from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Psychological Science (APS) as well as many divisional and smaller society awards.

Sir Johann Thomas Eichelbaum was a New Zealand jurist who served as the 11th Chief Justice of New Zealand.

In 2005, Thorp published a book entitled Miscarriages of Justice.[ citation needed ] He researched 53 applications for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and found that at least 20 applicants may have been wrongly imprisoned.[ citation needed ]

Thorp lived in the Auckland suburb of Parnell. He died on 17 October 2018. [3]

Related Research Articles

Supreme Court of New Zealand supreme court

The Supreme Court of New Zealand is the highest court and the court of last resort of New Zealand, having formally come into existence on 1 January 2004. The court sat for the first time on 1 July 2004. It replaced the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based in London. It was created with the passing of the Supreme Court Act 2003, on 15 October 2003. At the time, the creation of the Supreme Court and the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council were controversial constitutional changes in New Zealand. The Act was repealed on 1 March 2017 and replaced by the Senior Courts Act 2016.

Sian Elias New Zealand judge

Dame Sian Seerpoohi Elias was the 12th Chief Justice of New Zealand, and was therefore the most senior member of the country's judiciary. She was the presiding judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand and on several occasions acted as Administrator of the Government.

Sir Douglas Arthur Montrose Graham is a former New Zealand politician. He was an MP from 1984 to 1999, representing the National Party.

In the English and British tradition, the royal prerogative of mercy is one of the historic royal prerogatives of the British monarch, by which he or she can grant pardons to convicted persons. The royal prerogative of mercy was originally used to permit the monarch to withdraw, or provide alternatives to death sentences; the alternative of penal transportation to "partes abroade" has been used since at least 1617. It is now used to change any sentence or penalty. A royal pardon does not itself overturn a conviction.

Kenneth Keith New Zealand judge

Sir Kenneth James Keith is a New Zealand Judge appointed to the International Court of Justice in November 2005.

Sir Thomas Munro Gault was a New Zealand jurist. He was a Justice of the Supreme Court of New Zealand and a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom as well as a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong. He was also a justice of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

Anand Satyanand Governor General of New Zealand

Sir Anand Satyanand is a former lawyer, judge and ombudsman who served as the 19th Governor-General of New Zealand from 2006 to 2011. He was chair of the Commonwealth Foundation for two 2-year terms, ending December 2016. He then chaired the Commonwealth Observation Group of the National Elections of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea in 2017. In 2018, the New Zealand Government appointed him to lead the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Institutions and Faith-based Institutions, which is scheduled to continue until 2020.

Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis is a former Christchurch child care worker who was at the centre of one of New Zealand's most enduring judicial controversies. In June 1993 Ellis was found guilty in the High Court on 16 counts of sexual offences involving children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. His conviction was strongly criticised, with concerns centering on how the children's testimony was obtained and presented to the jury.

Sir John Steele Henry PC is a New Zealand jurist and former Court of Appeal judge, and member of the well-known Henry family.

Sir John Hugh Williams, generally known as Hugh Williams, is the current president of the New Zealand Electoral Commission and a retired judge of the High Court of New Zealand.

Sir Erima Harvey Northcroft was a New Zealand lawyer, judge, and military leader.

Sir Noel Crossley Anderson is a New Zealand judge who was President of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand from 2004 to 2006, before being elevated to the Supreme Court. He left office in 2008.

Cameron Slater is a right-wing New Zealand-based blogger, best known for publishing the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog. He edited the tabloid newspaper New Zealand Truth from November 2012 until it ceased publication in July 2013. Slater's father, John Slater, served as President of the New Zealand National Party from 1998 to 2001.

Colin Craig New Zealand politician

Colin Craig is a New Zealand businessman who was the founding leader of the Conservative Party of New Zealand.

Sir Peter Blanchard is a former Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

Lowell Goddard New Zealander judge

Dame Lowell Patria Goddard, is a former New Zealand High Court judge, from 1995 to 2015. She is thought to be the first person of Māori ancestry to have been appointed to the High Court. In 1988, she was one of the first two women to be appointed Queen's Counsel in New Zealand and in 1989 became the first woman to hold a Crown warrant. In 1992, she became Deputy Solicitor-General for New Zealand. Between 2007 and 2012 she chaired New Zealand’s Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA). In 2010 she was elected as an independent expert to the United Nations Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) and served in that capacity until 2016. From February 2015 until August 2016, she chaired the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales.

Charles Blackie

Charles Stuart Blackie is a New Zealand judge who is currently the Chief Justice of the Pitcairn Supreme Court and is also a judge of the District Courts of New Zealand. He is a former Commander in the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Ellen France

Dame Ellen Dolour France is a New Zealand jurist. She is currently a Justice of the Supreme Court, and was previously the president of the Court of Appeal.

Helen Winkelmann New Zealand judge

Dame Helen Diana Winkelmann is the 13th and current Chief Justice of New Zealand, having been sworn in on 14 March 2019. She is the second woman to hold the position, following her immediate predecessor, Sian Elias.


  1. "Death search: registration number 2018/29496". Births, deaths & marriages online. Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  2. "New Year honours list 1997". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 1996. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  3. "Sir Thomas Thorp death notice". Dominion Post. 22 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.