Setbacks for Slater, Graham in defamation proceedings

Cameron Slater has been the defendant in three defamation proceedings.

Versus Colin Craig a recent judgment found that Slater had defamed Craig but Craig had harmed his own reputation and no costs would be awarded to either. Craig has indicated he will appeal this decision.

Also recently Matthew Blomfield finally (after 6 years trying) got Slater to trial. It appears that later had little or no defence and could potentially face substantial costs, but that is all happening behind the scenes.

And the third proceeding has come up in the courts and news, still pre-trial. Newsroom: Whaleoil and Peters’ lawyer suffer court setbacks

The Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater has lost a bid to have hacked documents obtained by author Nicky Hager excluded from a High Court defamation case.

Slater, and a co-defendant Carrick Graham the son of former national minister Sir Douglas Graham, have also been ordered to front-up in court ahead of the defamation hearing to answer questions from the lawyers for the three health professionals who are suing them for defamation.

Justice Matthew Palmer ordered the cross examination in the court room because Slater and Graham had not cooperated satisfactorily with the written questioning from lawyers for medical researchers Doug Sellman, Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook.

Justice Palmer’s decisions were the latest setbacks for Slater and his lawyer Brian Henry, the longtime barrister for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, in the defamation case.

The three health professionals sued Slater, Graham, ex National MP Katherine Rich and her Food and Grocery Council for defamation after Hager’s Dirty Politics book revealed emails and communications linking the defendants in blog posts critical of the three men.

NZ Herald: Hacked emails allowed in Cameron Slater cash for comment defamation case – judge

Blogger Cameron Slater, lobbyist Carrick Graham and former MP Katherine Rich have failed in their bid to have hacked emails excluded from a defamation case.

The High Court has also ruled that Slater and Graham will have to take the stand to be “orally examined” during trial, as their written answers so far have been “inconsistent”.

And all three defendants have been ordered to provide more paperwork to the plaintiffs – a trio of health experts – particularly around what payment agreements were made between them.

Slater, who writes the WhaleOil blog, is accused of being paid to write the posts by ex-National MP Rich through her employer the Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC).

They accuse Graham, son of the former National cabinet minister Sir Douglas Graham, of being the middle man.

Previously, the defendants tried to get the case struck out, but the court declined.

A jury trial should go ahead next year; High Court Judge Matthew Palmer issued a second judgement on preliminary matters before trial today.

In it, the judge declined Slater’s application to exclude hacked documents obtained by the plaintiffs from Nicky Hager – the author of Dirty Politics – at this stage.

He also said the defendants had not complied with discover. While Slater disclosed 32 documents, other than blog posts, including 27 individual emails to or from Rich – there was no evidence of payments received and only one document containing data from the Whale Oil website.

Graham disclosed 172 documents including four emails from Slater and 114 emails to or from Rich or NZFGC. None of the discovered emails to or from Rich pre-dated the publication of Dirty Politics, the judge said.

Rich and NZFGC disclosed around 1200 documents, including 24 items of correspondence with Graham. No correspondence with Slater was included.

The judge said there were grounds for believing Slater and Graham had not provided some documents, and requested they be provided.

Some documents about payments were included, revealing the fact Graham’s company received $365,814 from NZFGC over about five years.

But he wanted a more precise account of the terms and scope of services between Rich and/or the NZFGC and Slater or Graham including any associated documents.

He said the hacked emails would not be struck out because he was not persuaded they were not genuine.

After examining Graham and Slater’s answers to interrogatories, the judge said he was concerned their statements that WhaleOil did not publish blogposts for reward were “not consistent” with the plaintiff’s evidence.

“They are inconsistent with reasonable inferences from the emails obtained by the plaintiffs,” the judgment said.

In other words, the judge has concerns that Slater and Graham have not provided documents under discovery that they should have – and it seems that hacked emails provide evidence suggesting that they haven’t complied. This could be a serious matter, hence the call to answer to the court at a hearing.

“I am also concerned a number of other aspects of the interrogatories may not have been properly responded to, regarding: who was the author of the blog posts; the involvement of each of the defendants in their preparation; downloading of blog posts; authorship of the comments; and payments received. I consider Mr Slater and Mr Graham have made insufficient answer to the interrogatories. “

He said the pair would be required to take the stand for up to an hour during trial.

An important question to be answered is whether Slater, or the company he is director of and jointly owns with his wife Juana Atkins, Social Media Consultants Limited, have been paid to post hit jobs. Nicky Hager suggested money haad been paid in his book Dirty Politics.

Meanwhile possibly not coincidentally and somewhat at odds with what the judge is saying, on Wednesday at Whale Oil:  Whaleoil is not free and telling the truth costs

To continue to service our Oiler community with real-life get-togethers and interesting and entertaining content we have had to think outside of the box as telling the truth can have legal consequences that put a massive strain on the blog’s finances.

Embellishing the truth and making up allegations are more likely to have legal consequences, and can be far more costly.

We don’t want to put out the begging bowl so have instead been working hard on finding alternative revenue streams that give our supporters something fantastic in return.

All this litigation is expensive, even without awards of costs and damages.

It can also be a strain on well being. As far as I know this is till undisclosed at Whale Oil, and Slater’s sudden absence from posts and comments a couple of weeks ago is still unexplained (the absence of curiosity or comment about his absence in comments is very odd).

I have heard claims that Slater may have suffered from one or two strokes and is to some extent incapacitated. Perhaps WO management thinks that telling the truth about this will be expensive if it adversely effects fundraising. Perhaps spanish bride can explain the truth when she reads this.

UPDATE:

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 24, 2018

    I don’t wish illness on him at all but sadly his troubles are self-inflicted and have fall-out that damage others.

    Reply
    • And others using him have also contributed to his credibility, legal, financial and health problems.

      Reply
    • Pickled Possum

       /  November 24, 2018

      Karmas a Bitch … then you go down screaming like one.
      Slater has hurt many people with his bad money dog mouth.

      Reply
  2. alloytoo

     /  November 24, 2018

    I am extremely uncomfortable with the use of stolen emails for any purpose other than prosecuting Hager.

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  November 24, 2018

    a recent judgment found that Slater had defamed Craig but Craig had harmed his own reputation and no costs would be awarded to either. Craig has indicated he will appeal this decision.

    For God’s sake. The beggar may as well buy an apartment in the Court Building.

    As to the rest of the post, karma is the word that springs most immediately to mind.

    Whaleoil was the first political blog I ever read, for a while. I think Bryce Edwards alerted me to it in one of his Political Roundup pieces. At the time I was interested mainly because of Slater’s battle to name the hip-hop DJ charged with inappropriate sexual shenanigans.

    But the more often I read it, the more I thought, nah, this blog has just got a “nasty” feel to it, for me anyway, and

    It’ll have to go 😡

    Who else have we got? 😳

    Reply
  4. Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 24, 2018

      Not sure how the son and close associate of a former Labour PM is allowed to judge a case involving a political opponent?

      Whatever you think of Slater this does not seem acceptable.

      Reply
      • Loki

         /  November 24, 2018

        Why, Slater has been Labour’s best attack dog (albeit at the behest and patronage of Winston Peters for a couple of years now) for a while.

        Reply
  5. Tipene

     /  November 24, 2018

    Not to mention the north-of-a-million dollars legal bill Slater copped the last time around………..it’ll be his Daddy that will have to don sackcloth and ashes soon -the poor guy has already bailed out his kid before for a myriad of bad business decisions.

    Even Slaters SDA adopted father figure is going to get a bit tired of it all, surely?

    Reply
    • Loki

       /  November 24, 2018

      His father is almost unbelievably a worse businessman than his son.
      And I am still struggling to believe the latest health crisis is nothing more than a suspiciously well timed spell of self imposed bed rest to avoid being forced to pay Blomfield.

      Reply
    • Amadeus

       /  November 26, 2018

      Slater doesn’t have a Legal bill.
      Brian Henry worked for “free”.
      Make of that as you will.
      Lawyers don’t work on high risk cases for free.
      Ever.

      Reply

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