Legal jousting over ex-prisoner Arthur Taylor’s tell-all book

The publisher behind the book of one of the country’s highest profile ex-inmates will be hoping to avoid a stop-press calamity.

Former jail-house lawyer Arthur Taylor again locked horns with his old foe Corrections, this time in the High Court at Wellington, by video link from Dunedin, this week.

His book Prison Break: The Extraordinary Life and Crimes of New Zealand’s Most Infamous Escapee, published by Allen & Unwin, is due to hit shelves in August.

Worried Corrections might apply for a last-minute injunction against its release, Taylor said he made a precautionary application, asking for clarification from the court, which was urgently heard this week.

At the heart of it, he told the Otago Daily Times, was CCTV footage of his transfer from Auckland Prison to Waikeria Prison in 2017, dubbed Operation Swift, he later discovered.

Taylor said the film showed him restrained and unconscious for the trip and an Australian expert gave his medical opinion as to how that happened.

That commentary is set to feature in Prison Break.

The contention arose because of a confidentiality agreement which barred Taylor from disclosing the footage.

That came about, he said, because Corrections was concerned its dissemination could compromise prison security.

However, he was adamant the sections of the book which mentioned it give nothing sensitive away.

“They are trying to stretch [the confidentiality agreement] to breaking point,” said Taylor.

The CCTV footage would also be part of a case heard before the High Court at Wellington in February next year.

Taylor said the allegedly unlawful transfer and 15 months he spent in solitary confinement were the basis of his suing Corrections for $1.5million.

The High Court’s decision on this week’s matter is expected to be delivered today.

If the judge sided with Corrections, Taylor accepted it could have serious implications for his book, which he believed had already begun its print run in Australia.

Prison Break is described as “a warts-and-all look at prison life, a no-apologies insight into how the prison system can change you for the better, or the worse”.

Allen & Unwin refused to comment.

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