Bennett accusations and online risks

Serious accusations have been made about Paula Bennett online, and Bennett has responded with a crease-and-desist letter and threats of legal action.

Warnings have also been issued about the risks of sharing and linking too potentially defamatory information.

1 News:  Retired judge warns public after Paula Bennett threatens lawsuit over online post

A retired judge with considerable experience in laws surrounding online issues says those who share posts which break the law could be legally liable themselves.

The comments by retired Judge Dr David Harvey, who is Director of the New Zealand Centre for ICT Law, come after Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett threatened legal action over an online post accusing her, without evidence, of several historical criminal acts.

According to a cease-and-desist letter sent to a North Island man by lawyers acting for Ms Bennett, a post and video were published on June 30 containing “material highly defamatory of the Deputy Prime Minister”.

The post has been widely circulated and the letter states it has already had more than 5400 shares.

Dr Harvey told 1 NEWS that people who hit share on such posts should be aware they could find themselves at the sharp end of a lawsuit.

“They themselves could be deemed to be publishers of the information and be liable for whatever legal wrong they have done,” he said.

“It could be a breach of confidence, it could be intentional infliction of emotional distress … it could be the sharing of information under the Harmful Digital Communications Act or it could be defamatory.”

So there must be no reference to, links to or hints of the actual allegations on this site.

The letter from Ms Bennett’s counsel said “not only do these allegations very seriously defame the Deputy Prime Minister, but she, and we as her lawyers, will regard it as a form of harassment”.

“You should immediately remove this content.”

The lawyers acting for Ms Bennett say that further action could be requested in future in terms of remedial action and also say a restraining order could potentially be requested.

The letter emphasises Ms Bennett’s “categorical rejection” of all claims made in the post.

Apart from the allegations from one person there apparently has been no corroborating evidence published.

If the person has real allegations and has been frustrated for years in getting them addressed then they are in a difficult situation. This may not be a sensible way to try and deal with it.

The person apparently tried to get parties to publicise their allegations during the last election campaign and no one was prepared to go public with them.

From time to time I get emailed stories that make serious allegations and claims, sometimes about MPs and Ministers. With no facts to back them I won’t do anything with them.

A recent email claimed that Princess Diana was still alive and living secretly living somewhere – I didn’t read very far, perhaps she is shacked up with Elvis in a Yeti cave.

I don’t know any details of the allegations against Bennett, I haven’t tried to find out, but some hints have been made on other blogs who have (in my opinion) promoted the story and encouraged some discussion unwisely albeit with some warnings and moderation. They have allowed some Bennett bashing.

I have posted this as a story of interest, but without any evidence in this case most of the interest is in the use of social media to both unfairly attack people and to try to redress perceived wrongs.

The general issues can be discussed, but please don’t post anything that hints at any detail of Bennett accusations. Any comment that could put this site at risk may be deleted.

25 Comments

  1. Tipene

     /  July 5, 2017

    The allegations are career-ending for Bennett if they are true, and could even trigger a host of statutory investigations against her.

    But without any evidence, it’s just “he said, she said”.

    Should be right up the medias alley – cue “anonymous interview” with “aggrieved party”, and if the media get it wrong, the cry of “qualified privilege” will once again illegitimately guard the increasingly shaky fourth estate.

    Bennetts legal response has been swift and brutal.

  2. Missy

     /  July 5, 2017

    Reading the comments on one of those other blogs makes me question the veracity of the claims (I won’t repeat them to protect PG).

    A couple of things raise a few warning bells:

    1. One commenter claims to have seen a youtube video in which the person making the allegations claims it isn’t about getting Paula Bennett, but rather the destruction of the National Government

    2. The main post says the person making the allegations claim to have sent the information to a number of people last election (they are named in the blog post). If the information was sent to those individuals and they didn’t use the information then I would wonder about how solid it is, they are people who would normally be first to jump on the information to use against the Government. Of course it could just be that they were too focussed on John Key and not too bothered by Paula Bennett at that stage – but I doubt it.

    It will be interesting where this goes, but it does seem that there are stronger political motivations behind it, and can lead to questioning if it is just dirty politics from the left.

    • Anonymous Coward

       /  July 5, 2017

      Because despite recent claims by some that the media is corrupted and will publish anything, when these claims were brought up they were found to be un-verifiable and therefore not fit to publish.
      That it’s news now is down to the viral nature of the facebook posts, but the only reporting I’ve seen in the MSM is on the cease and desist letter that Bennet sent not just to the claimant but CC’d to all the news outlets too. Streisand Effect!

    • PDB

       /  July 5, 2017

      Interesting if true however the poster has clearly stated a political motive which at present over-shadows any moral motive they may have unless evidence is presented.

      I also find it ironic that the left really hate ‘beneficiary bashing’ unless they are the ones doing it for political motives.

  3. NOEL

     /  July 5, 2017

    Is this about the accusations on Facebook?

    • PDB

       /  July 5, 2017

      Yep

      • NOEL

         /  July 5, 2017

        What is it? More than two million access Facebook here. Sizeable chunk of the voting public.
        Damage already done.

        • Gezza

           /  July 5, 2017

          Not necessarily. Been taken down. I can’t find. The number of people who have actually seen it & are bothered by it could be quite small, & won’t risk re-sharing I imagine

  4. Ray

     /  July 5, 2017

    Dr Google tells you all.
    And it is obvious why the media refuses to get into a very personal over hyped feud.

  5. Blazer

     /  July 5, 2017

    Corky will be…devastated…Bennetts …..’that was 30 years ago…’…is not inspiring.

    • Corky

       /  July 5, 2017

      I’ll save my reply for when she hopefully becomes PM, or takes this to court. Sadly, for you, this wont stop National winning the election. And ,if we want to drag up retrospective allegations, well, if National open their top draw…..ouch! Thing is, I doubt High Chief Billy English would sanction such a move….. more the pity, the depravity the Left can sink to is mind boggling…Blazer.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 5, 2017

    Those accusations by a then 10 year old?? Not credible.

    • Gezza

       /  July 5, 2017

      1. Why not?
      2. Says he has other witnesses.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 5, 2017

        1. Ten-year old wouldn’t be taking notice of that stuff.
        2. See you in court.

        • Gezza

           /  July 5, 2017

          1. Some would.
          2. Fair enuff.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 5, 2017

            1. Find me a sober adult at the time to corroborate the allegations and I’ll begin to consider it seriously. Until then I’ll believe this guy is a malevolent fantasist.

  7. lurcher1948

     /  July 5, 2017

    Any female who thinks shes PRETTY/SEXY wearing pancake slapped on makeup and purple lipstick at 7.00am is suspect

  8. patupaiarehe

     /  July 5, 2017

    The person apparently tried to get parties to publicise their allegations during the last election campaign and no one was prepared to go public with them.

    I can think of only two reasons why….
    1. The allegations are completely false, & there is no supporting evidence for the allegations.
    2. There is a suppression order involved.
    Hmmmm….

    A retired judge with considerable experience in laws surrounding online issues says those who share posts which break the law could be legally liable themselves.

    BTW, I havn’t bothered ‘googling’ the allegations yet….

    • patupaiarehe

       /  July 5, 2017

      Oh, rightyo! No suppression orders involved! Thank you Google, for a great example of hypocrisy at it’s finest… 😀 (and that’s all I’m going to say about it, Pete 😉 )

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