Blomfield v Slater defamation – no credible defence

Suppression has just been lifted on the Blomfield versus Slater defamation case, which found that Slater had no credible defence – this is after numerous delays since the case started in 2012.

NZ Herald:  Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater loses defamation case and gets told: ‘Your day will come’

Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater has lost one of the country’s longest running defamation cases after failing to put up any credible defence.

The judgment has been greeted as “magnificent” by businessman Matthew Blomfield, who sued Slater for defamation after a series of blog posts in 2012 accused him of illegal and immoral behaviour.

The judgment recorded Slater had made claims in a blog post which included saying the “Blomfield files” would expose “drugs, fraud, extortion, bullying, corruption, collusion, compromises, perjury, deception, (and) hydraulic-ing”.

Blomfield said: “Finally there is something solid out in the public domain to show that all of Cameron Slater’s nonsense was just that, nonsense.

“As this judgment clearly shows, he was given every possible chance to show that he had a defence to my defamation claim, but in the end he could produce nothing.”

The judgment made public today saw Justice Paul Davison find in Blomfield’s favour, ruling out a defence from Slater after long delays and failures to meet legal requirements to defend a claim of defamation.

Slater has taken the judgment to the Court of Appeal. There is yet to be a ruling on what the loss will cost Slater.

The case against Slater and his company, Social Media Consultants Ltd, focused on nine blog posts on the Whaleoil website over a month in mid-2012.

It saw claims by Blomfield the blog posts were a deliberate attack orchestrated by a former business partner Warren Powell and associates after a falling out in their Hells Pizza business.

The blogger then obtained – allegedly from Blomfield’s former business associates – a hard drive which contained 10 years of Blomfield’s communications and information.

The new judgment came after a defamation hearing as due to start on October 8 was adjourned when Slater and lawyers arrived at court without a proper defence.

In total, Slater had entered or attempted to enter five statements of defence over the course of the case which all failed to meet the legal requirements for attempted defences of truth and of honest opinion.

Those defences required the blogger to either present the source of details he claimed as fact to show they were true, or to show statements had been made as opinion based on facts which were known at the time of publication.

Davison said Slater had been “afforded considerable leniency” to meet deadlines and get a proper defence before the court.

There had been “indulgence” to allow Slater to change his defence with one High Court judge even providing the blogger guidance as to how to prepare for the defamation hearing.

Davison said Slater’s attempts to change his defence and to introduce new pleadings was rightly seen as “a last-minute attempt to prevent the (Blomfield’s) claim from being heard and determined by the court”.

He said it was possible to see delay as Slater’s objective when seeking court hearings on issues such as a security for costs.

Davison said the statement of defence Slater had arrived with when the trial was due to start failed to identify the facts which would have been used to prove his blog posts were true.

Instead, large piles of evidence had been pointed to which, in a number of cases, relied on “a third party’s allegations about the plaintiff”.

And instead of providing a defence of honest opinion, Slater’s court filings instead repeated his inadequate defence of truth.

Davison said it wasn’t necessary to rule on the merits of the case because of the legal, technical flaws in Slater’s attempted defence.

“However, in my view the documents relied on by the defendants do not provide cogent support for the propositions and conclusions they seek to draw from them in relation to the defences of truth and honest opinion, or the bad reputation of the plaintiff.”

Blomfield said he believed the case would likely run another year or more through the appeal process.

“Our justice system is fundamentally broken in this way.”

He said it allowed a litigant intent on delaying justice to drag out the court proceedings.

I have experienced plenty of that myself, deliberate delays and the deliberate (I beliueve) inflicting of court costs in three years of failed litigation against me by Dermot Nottingham that Slater was also involved in (as informant and proposed ‘expert’ witness).

Nottingham has also been associated with this defamation case, as has the lauda Finem \website that a court found Nottingham to be closely involved with last year.

Asked if he had a message for Slater, Blomfield said: “You cannot do this to a person and suffer no consequence. You cannot make up lies about someone and try to destroy them and then simply walk away.

“You were paid to destroy me. You did irreparable damage to my businesses, to my family, to me. But no matter how long you delay things, your day will come.”

Justice Raynor Asher, in a 2014 judgment, said ” the material provided by the sources appears to have been unlawfully obtained” and it had “the hallmarks of a private feud”. He said there was no public interest in the blog posts, which appeared driven by a “personal vendetta”.

Asher also found the hard drive and other documents provided to Slater “appear to have been obtained illegitimately”.

Note that this went to court in mid October last year, where Slater finally ran out of delaying tactics. He had a stroke just after this (late October) – and then in January on Whale oil this was blamed on stress from media pressure. Court and financial pressure must surely have been a major factor. Slater engaged a lawyer so will have legal costs as well as potentially having an award against him. Going by this judgment that could be substantial.

Whale Oil have been trying to distance Slater from the blog, it appears to try to protect them from financial risk. But This is a major blow to Slater’s (and Whale Oil’s) reputation.

7 Comments

  1. duperez

     /  February 15, 2019

    Over years I thought Slater was a bully and oik. I don’t like it when bullies and oiks win. Their behaviour smears the whole world, their getting away with it more so.
    At the moment the finding in this case is a little bit like the Empire Striking Back for decency.

  2. Finbaar Rustle

     /  February 15, 2019

    USA, China Russia take a back seat.
    Whale oil v Pizza man.
    6 years and counting.
    Good publicity for Whale oil.
    Millions of tax payers money spent on male ego.
    Could have built a 100 new houses.
    Would you like chips with that?

    • Duker

       /  February 15, 2019

      Millions of tax payers money?
      It’s a civil case, doesn’t involve the Crown that I can see.

      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  February 16, 2019

        Its held in the Courts. Judges court staff buildings admin all cost money. Lots of it.

  3. Tipene

     /  February 15, 2019

    More FUBAR for Mr Dribbly, – and more to come.

  4. Gezza

     /  February 17, 2019

    A thoroughly enjoyable Court Decision. May there be many more like it.

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