Legal problems and hypocrisy mounts

It’s hard to know what is mounting more, Cameron Slater’s legal problems or his hypocrisy.

He is now facing another defamation case, this time from three public health researchers who have featured in a number of posts at Whale Oil over the years.

Defamation proceedings against Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater

13th June 2016

Today, we have filed defamation proceedings in the High Court at Auckland against Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater.

The proceedings relate to a series of blog posts and comments published on the Whale Oil website. For some years, Whale Oil has published articles with a negative focus on various public health experts and advocates. It was not until the book Dirty Politics was published in August 2014 that it became clear Carrick Graham was involved in the publication of material on Whale Oil.

We had hoped things would change, but the various articles and comments remain live on Whale Oil, and Mr Slater has continued to publish further material. Accordingly, we have decided to bring these proceedings to address what we claim is a campaign of deliberate and sustained defamation.

While we will continue to speak and write on important public health issues, we will be making no further comment on the matters at issue in the defamation proceedings as they are properly dealt with by the Court.

Professor Doug Sellman
Professor Boyd Swinburn
Shane Bradbrook

Slater has responded via NBR (paywalled):

Public health researchers’ defamation claim is ‘vexatious bullying’ – Slater ($)

ck4xknqwkaac-ha

Bullying, trying to silence critics, being vexatious and being involved in frivolous legal processes could easily be self descriptions of Slater.

It’s hard to know if he’s blind to his hypocrisy or he just doesn’t care about how it looks.

And it seems this is only one of Slater’s problems today. Veutoviper posted this at The Standard:

This afternoon a case management conference is also being held in the Auckland High Court before Judge Asher re the ongoing case between Slater and Matthew Blomfield, with each of them representing themselves. https://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/business/calendar/daily-lists/2Tue14062016.pdf

A couple of weeks ago, Slater dropped his appeal against an earlier decision by Judge Asher in relation to this defamation case against Slater, so it will be interesting to see the outcome of today’s conference, although it may not be made public.

http://www.defamationupdate.co.nz/sites/all/pdf/2014/Slater-v-Blomfield-2014-NZHC-2221.pdf

Slater has been trying to drag this out for years. His legal argument losses have been accumulating and he recently gave up on an appeal. That means that it must just about be time for the court file to be unsealed so Slater’s sources are revealed, something he had been trying hard to avoid.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

52 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  14th June 2016

    Pete your blog is so much better and brighter than slaters oil….who would want to be tied or linked to this sweaty overweight national supporter
    PS PG dont put youtube videos of kittens on,slater does

    Reply
  2. jamie

     /  14th June 2016

    Imagine deliberately attacking people for spending their lives trying to improve the health and well-being of the nation.

    That’s as clear a picture of the moral compass of Cameron, Carrick and the rest of them as you’re going to get.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  14th June 2016

      Ends don’t justify means.

      Reply
    • PDB

       /  15th June 2016

      So anyone with a ‘noble’ goal is therefore totally protected from anybody questioning their real motives, validity of their research? So we should just trust them to be telling us the truth, no questions asked?

      Reply
      • I don’t trust them any more than anyone else. Research Scientists are just as vain and self seeking when it comes to enhancing a reputation and increasing their personal benefits as anyone else. I’m glad Slater calls some of them. He can be all sorts of imperfect, but anyone on the public teat needs careful auditing and public accountability. He’ll either prevail or they will.

        Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th June 2016

    Maybe someone should pay for a decent lawyer to defend Slater on the basis that the public health lobby are acting as paid political lobbyists and propagandists and therefore should be treated like politicians for the purposes of defamation law.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  14th June 2016

      I’ll kick in 50c for the entertainment value Al, if you’ll match it.

      Reply
      • jamie

         /  14th June 2016

        I’ll match your 50c if it helps keep Slater in court where he belongs.

        Reply
    • jamie

       /  14th June 2016

      “the public health lobby are acting as paid political lobbyists”

      Really?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  14th June 2016

        Absolutely. They are campaigning for politically imposed sanctions against other individuals.

        Reply
        • jamie

           /  14th June 2016

          Can you explain what you mean by that?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  14th June 2016

            It’s perfectly clear. They seek legal prohibitions and sanctions to be applied to others in pursuit of their goals.

            Reply
            • jamie

               /  14th June 2016

              I don’t follow. It seems that you’re accusing them of having some sort of agenda that goes beyond what they’re supposed to be doing, i.e. conducting research in their fields of expertise and promoting the findings of that research in the interest of the health of the population.

              What do you think “their goals” are?

            • jamie

               /  14th June 2016

              (That’s not me downvoting your comments btw, I’m genuinely interested to know where you’re going with this.)

            • duperez

               /  14th June 2016

              Just wondering – if a public health lobby seeks controls to be applied to people, like for example having to wear seat belts or have children travel in special seats, are they campaigning for politically imposed sanctions?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  14th June 2016

              @duperez, absolutely yes. They want other people fined if they disobey their orders.

              @jamie, I’ve no problem with research and presentation of evidence. But when it comes to devising laws that affect other people they have gone far beyond the role of science into political advocacy.

            • jamie

               /  14th June 2016

              Ok, I think I see where you’re coming from.

              The experts in a given field should do research and present evidence, but should not have any input into legislation related to that research and evidence.

              Is that a fair summary of your view?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  15th June 2016

              Political and moral judgments are the business of the ordinary citizen and their politicians, not scientists and technical experts. They are paid to provide knowledge and expertise, not to lobby politicians for sanctions against their fellow citizens. That’s perfectly clear I think. When they step over that boundary they should be treated as the paid political operators they are.

            • PDB

               /  15th June 2016

              Totally agree with AW – there is a clear distinction between providing scientific research on an issue/ topic and politicising that research in order to achieve a pre-determined end result.

            • jamie

               /  15th June 2016

              Do you have any specific examples of what you’re talking about with regard to experts crossing the line and becoming lobbyists?

            • PDB

               /  15th June 2016

              How about Professor Jane Kelsey.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  15th June 2016

              PDB gives examples below.

    • I have no idea what the merits of this defamation action are, if any.

      I don’t agree with what some health experts propose and campaign for and strongly support the right to criticise them – if done reasonably.

      But that doesn’t give anyone the right to defame, and anyone has the right to take a defamation action if they see fit.

      It will be interesting to see what comes out from this. For example if Graham is found to have paid Slater to post defamatory attacks as a part of his lobbying (and that has already been suggested in the past in Dirty Politics) then I think it is of public interest to know.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  15th June 2016

        My point is the defamation law treats politicians differently and these people are acting politically and should be treated accordingly.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  15th June 2016

          No they’re not politicians. You’re starting to get confused by your hostility towards them perhaps? They won’t be treated by the Court as politicians, will they? Because they’re not actually polticians. It’s a defamation action. Don’t you believe in waiting until the outcome of Court decisions before making judgements?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  15th June 2016

            I’m saying that political activity deserves greater protection for free speech and honest opinion than a narrow interpretation of the defamation law would permit – and therefore good lawyers are needed to present the case to ensure the court rules wisely on this. Politicians are not the only people involved in politics.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  15th June 2016

              Defamation is the publication of a untrue statement that tends to harm another person’s reputation or standing.

              The bar for a defamation action to succeed in this country I think is set pretty high Alan. It has to be untrue. If it’s untrue, tough titties on the tattler. Surely you agree with that?

              http://www.defamationupdate.co.nz/guide-to-defamation-law

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  15th June 2016

              The problem is the onus on the defendant to prove the statement is true. And how do you prove the plaintiff is a ratbag?

            • Gezza

               /  15th June 2016

              Produce the bag and the rat.

            • Mefrostate

               /  16th June 2016

              Alan, what do you believe academics such as these should do when their research suggests a clear policy direction is needed? Just shush and hope the politicians catch on?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  16th June 2016

              @Mefro, first, publish peer reviewed. Second, send the publication to the relevant authorities and interested parties. Avoid making inflammatory and exaggerated statements to the media.

            • PDB

               /  16th June 2016

              Mefrostate: “Alan, what do you believe academics such as these should do when their research suggests a clear policy direction is needed”.

              If the research is that ‘clear’ then the study should be able to stand on it’s own when presented to government. However what we have seen is academics producing debatable evidence to back pre-determined conclusions and therefore they feel the need to promote/ publicise their dodgy ‘research’ themselves, usually driven by a personal financial motive and/or ideology they wish to promote.

      • Pete Kane

         /  15th June 2016

        Be interesting to know if Hager or Rawshark held anything in reserve for further down the track – ie this sort of thing. I assume not, but it’s a cute thought.

        Reply
  4. David

     /  14th June 2016

    The MSM happily repeat any nonsense spouted by these 3 without questioning them and on this Occassion I am with Slater, Eric Crampton pulls them to shreds in a far harsher fashion than Slater. On this one I think it’s an outrage they are trying to silence an opposing view and someone who has quite effectively shredded some of their nonsense.

    Reply
  5. I have followed Whale Oil with great interest for a couple of years, but have not been able to comment in it, after being disbarred by Slater for pointing out that he had apparently broken the Electoral Act by blogging political matters on election day – which he had.
    In my view, he defends his position in relation to the alleged defamation by claiming fair comment on a matter of public interest, and of calling to account the activities of people using taxpayers money. Under the Bill of Rights he is entitled to exercise his right to have and publicise an opinion, especially as the High Court has defined him as a journalist. I do detect that he has an inferiority complex, which translates into being overly bluff and masculine in his defence of his and his own. I really believe he in true life is a great big pussy-cat with an inner core of wanting to be loved, and held in regard by his fellow Kiwis. Because libel laws are fraught in NZ, I will refrain from commenting further on the rights and wrongs of the defamation case at this stage other than to say it reminds me of the tangles I always seem to get in my fishing lines on a boat. Frustrating and a waste of time!

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  15th June 2016

      Consistent, I guess, – attack is the………………
      http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2016/06/defamation-theyll-need-get-line/#more-255344

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  15th June 2016

        Cameron says in that linked article: I don’t believe any of the Three Troughketeers have a true understanding what they have just started, but I guess they can always withdraw when the full gravity of their mistake sets in. They have not asked for retractions or corrections. They have not asked for a public apology. He might be on to something:

        Defamation Act 1992
        25 Retraction or reply
        (1) Any person who claims to have been defamed by any matter published in a news medium may, not later than 5 working days after that person becomes aware of the publication of that matter in that news medium, request the person who was responsible for the publication of that matter to publish, in the same medium as the publication complained of, with substantially similar prominence, and without undue delay,—
        (a) a retraction of the matter in so far as it includes or consists of statements of fact; or
        (b) a reasonable reply.
        (2) Where, in response to a request made under subsection (1), a person agrees to publish a retraction or a reply, that person shall also offer to pay to the person who made the request (in this subsection referred to as the requester),—
        (a) where it is agreed to publish a reply, the cost of publishing that reply; and
        (b )the solicitor and client costs incurred by the requester in connection with the publication of the retraction or reply; and
        (c) all other expenses reasonably incurred by the requester in connection with the publication complained of; and
        (d) compensation for any pecuniary loss suffered by the requester as a direct result of the publication complained of.
        (3) In this section, reply means a statement of explanation or rebuttal, or of both explanation and rebuttal.

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  15th June 2016

          Yes – a big mistake.

          Reply
        • Pete Kane

           /  15th June 2016

          He may regret that Journalist/Publisher/Editor Court ruling yet.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  15th June 2016

            I’m still happy to kick in 50c towards his defence costs – as long as they set up a Give A Little page. I don’t want him to have my credit card details or email address. I don’t want a stream of begging emails.

            Reply
        • Joe Bloggs

           /  15th June 2016

          Only thing Slater’s on is drugs if he thinks he can swing that in court…

          The Act states “any person … may” and not “any person … must”

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  15th June 2016

            I’ll leave it up to the judge how they interpret that.

            Reply
            • jamie

               /  15th June 2016

              The distinction is crystal clear at law. There is no confusion between those two words whatsoever.

            • Gezza

               /  15th June 2016

              Should be an easy call for his or her honour then. No worries.

    • PDB

       /  15th June 2016

      I’ve had a quick look through some of Whale Oils posts on the people mentioned in the defamation and to be honest I can’t see where they are building a case?

      Doug Sellman for instance has been widely criticised for saying stupid things like this: “Supermarkets are drug “pushers” who are selling high quantities of discounted wine and should be viewed the same as dealers dishing out Ecstasy pills or morphine”. It may seem extreme but it’s a view that Professor Doug Sellman, director of the National Addiction Centre and spokesman for the Alcohol Action Group, is taking quite seriously (NZ Herald).

      Professor Boyd Swinburn “is calling for greater government regulation: a sugar tax on sweet drinks, improved food labelling and restricted junk food advertising” (stuff).

      To just report Sellman & Swinburn as simple ‘health researchers’ is simply untrue. They are political activists pushing an agenda that would greatly affect the citizens of this country and therefore they are open to criticism. I’ve seen no evidence that Slater’s criticism of these people was any worse than any others including David Farrar. In fact I’ve seen nothing as bad as Sellman’s own comments calling supermarket owners ‘drug pushers’ the “same as dealers dishing out Ecstasy pills or morphine”.

      One of Slater’s (rare) better pieces rightly shone the spotlight on the activities of the final claimant, Shane Bradbrook.

      http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2015/03/trougher-desperate-for-attention-trying-to-re-write-past-again/

      In this case Bradbrook blamed Slater for losing lucrative contracts etc rather than address the allegations made in Slater’s posts & the effect those had on his reputation.

      Reply
  6. Pete Kane

     /  15th June 2016

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/search/?q=Doug+Sellman

    I think they will be looking for (or feel they have) something quite specific in point of law (perhaps regarding the ‘paid for element), as well as the general harm test (reputational damage).

    Just remember they may simply be looking for a positive judgement (simple meeting the character test in law) rather than any attempt to establish considerable damage. I’d be surprised if it’s financially costing them greatly – that may be unfair but I suspect they will have considerable support.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  15th June 2016

      I’m sure they are well backed (could be interesting who) – I’ve no time for Slater but to me this just smells of some left-wing political academics/activists wanting to silence any critics whilst on the other hand attacking businesses and individuals (Katherine Rich for example) themselves. All under the guise of battling ‘dirty politics’.

      I’m sure the timing of this defamation proceeding is also opportunist with Slater already tied up in other defamation cases, considering he has been an outspoken opponent of the three for some years.

      Slater even criticised Bradbrook directly to his face when he spoke at the Maori Affairs Select Committee.

      Whaleoil: Then, when I appeared before the Maori Affairs Select Committee Shane Kawenata Frederick Bradbrook sat behind me whispering how much of a ‘fat c**t’ I was and that I was a ‘wanker’ and other unmentionable terms.

      His speech is here: http://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-nz/49SCMA_EVI_00DBSCH_INQ_9591_1_A38310/e135e4dfcfcb26311edf53a44925f7cab6107629

      Reply
  7. Pete Kane

     /  15th June 2016

    See I don’t think Slaters the main target or money at all the motivation. Abuse from Slater in his context might not meet the test anyway – all be it as repugnant as it sounds. The Food and Grocery Council etc (ie ‘the industry’).

    Reply
  8. I always thought that our legal system was designed to ensure that the Judiciary considered the truth of whatever transpired in a case they were asked to adjudicate on. That is, the TRUTH of the matter was pre-eminent, and Judges Rules were designed to distinguish between the TRUTH and obscuration of what actually occurred. That is why I have a huge problem with s68 protection claimed by journalists, no person should be able to get protection in a Court of Law, in my humble opinion, from telling the TRUTH on any matter that they have first hand knowledge of. I fail to see why Journalists who now are demonstrably pushing an agenda should continue to receive this protection. The role of the Judiciary to establish the TRUTH of any matter must take precedent of any perceived privilege of not revealing the source of any information relevant to the case. To deny this is to place an unacceptable constraint on the Court from establishing the TRUTH of what occurred. Why should Journalists be treated differently when they have in recent times demonstrated an inability to report both sides of an argument. The Fourth Estate have shit in their own nest and deserve the consequences.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  15th June 2016

      I’m just wondering how Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein would have got on getting Nixon’s side of the story before publishing anything?

      Reply
    • Jeeves

       /  16th June 2016

      You can capitalise TRUTH as often as you want- but that’s just your opinion, it is not the law.
      Judges are not ‘Truthseekers’, they are ‘Factfinders’.

      Their role is to establish what all the ‘uncontested facts’ or ‘common grounds’ are, through the rules of evidence etc. With those ‘facts’ on the table- they then use them to way up the factual probability of the ‘contested facts’. Then they strictly- pedantically- apply the law to them, with the assistance of both counsels.

      Other than witnesses swearing on a book and promising to tell the ‘truth’- the TRUTH has no other place in a proper court of law, except where it coincidentally agrees with the ‘common ground’.

      Reply

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