Advertisement

Leading figures from New Zealand’s film, art, and classical music industries wrote letters requesting leniency from the judge during the sentencing of sexual predator Sir James Wallace, according to information revealed by openDemocracy.

Before his sentencing in May 2021, Wallace had reached out to over 100 individuals and organisations, soliciting letters of support to present to the judge. The contents of these letters have now been made public.

In his emails, Wallace did not disclose the nature of the charges but proclaimed his innocence and expressed confidence in winning the appeal. For six years, he sought support from friends and industry leaders while attempting to keep his identity hidden from the media.

Advertisement

The letters, written by 89 individuals, including actors, writers, artists, musicians, academics, and political figures, were submitted to High Court Justice Geoffrey Venning between April and May 2021.

The judge acknowledged these letters’ importance in determining the sentence, granting the media permission to publish them.

It is reported that the letters played a role in reducing Wallace’s prison term by 30%, resulting in a two-year and four-month sentence, which he is currently serving.

Among those who wrote letters of support was Grammy-winning opera star Simon O’Neill, who emphasised Wallace’s decades of generosity and friendship towards New Zealand artists. O’Neill sympathised with the victims and acknowledged their courage in reporting the crimes. Award-winning actress Rena Owen also praised Wallace’s support for the arts and described him as an “old-school gentleman” and a beloved elder.

Vincent Ward, a Hollywood director, and artist, mentioned meeting Wallace at the Cannes Film Festival and expressed disbelief at the accusations against him. Novelist and scriptwriter Elspeth Sandys, former mayor Sir Bob Harvey, philanthropist Dame Jenny Gibbs, and concert pianist Michael Houstoun were among the others who wrote letters of support.

While some individuals declined to comment on their letters, others stood by their contents. The letters underscored Wallace’s philanthropy and contributions to the arts, with supporters highlighting his positive impact on the cultural landscape of New Zealand.

It should be noted that Wallace’s request for support came amid his ongoing legal battles and public allegations. He has consistently denied the charges and claimed to be a victim of blackmail and the #MeToo movement. His appeals, including attempts to reach the Supreme Court, have been unsuccessful.

The Prime Minister’s office has initiated the process of revoking Wallace’s knighthood, and several prominent institutions in New Zealand have distanced themselves from him.

Advertisement