Whale Oil scuttled

The crew announced yesterday that they were scuttling the Whale Oil blog – It’s the End of an Era…and the start of a new one.

It’s certainly the end of an era, but far too soon to know whether it’s the start of a new one, or whether the transfer to another site and brand will rescue some fizz, or continue their fizzling out of significance. The final post by SB/spanish bride/Juana Atkins suggests that it will be the same old self delusion and denial.

It has been nearly 15 years since Whaleoil’s creator and editor Cameron Slater posted his first post. During that time Whaleoil became New Zealand’s number one most popular and most-read blog. It has won numerous blog awards including a Canon Media Award for Best Blog and to date, it has had two works of fiction written about it.

The site won  couple of contentious awards, but that was five to six years ago, before the scab was lifted by Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics (which was mostly uncontested fact), and Whale Oil was quickly (and Cameron Slater gradually) deserted by most politicians and media that had helped build and sustain the brash and dirty site.

The second ‘work of fiction’ presumably refers to Margie Thomson’s book Whale Oil that was published in May this year. That revealed a decade long campaign against businessman Matt Blomfield, including over a hundred attack attack posts on Whale Oil, which led to six years of Slater trying to avoid a trial before a judge found that he had no defence to a number of charges of defamation. So the fiction writer is Atkins.

Inevitably as the dirty trade and tirades were exposed things turned to custard for Slater, since Dirty Politics started the exposure in 2014.

Journalists no longer fed or repeated Whale Oil.

Politicians stopped using and feeding Slater – and Slater gradually turned on those who had fed him, as well as running bitter campaigns against Key, against Bill English, Stephen Joyce, Amy Adams, Michael Woodhouse et al – and that’s just from the National Party.

Three defamation cases converged in the second half of last year, with Blomfield winning his case, Colin Craig partially winning, and three academics pushing Slater to comply with legal requirements to disclose information aall in October 2018. The month ended with Slater suffering from a stroke. The severity of that is being disputed in the courts as what Slater’s supporters claimed conflicted with what Slater appeared to be doing.

Legal costs amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million or more, with the prospects of that growing to multi millions of dollars of debt.

In February this year Slater filed for bankruptcy. The company he had jointly owned with Atkins was put into liquidation, owing over half a million dollars. A new company was set up to continue running Whale Oil, but that was only going to delay the inevitable.

From the First Liquidator’s Report (29 March 2019)

The liquidator took over as registrar of whaleoil.co.nz on 10 June – see here. So it was a matter of time before Whale Oil ceased operations (they tried shifting to another domain name but that seems to have been futile).

From yesterday’s announcement:

Whaleoil was so influential that shadowy forces conspired to take it down and a hacker was paid to hack it.

What actually happened was a number of people held Slater and his company to account through the courts. The three defamation cases had a common target but were quite separate.

I have seen no evidence that “a hacker was paid to hack it” – ironically Slater was charged with (and admitted) paying a hacker to try to take down The Standard, but accusing others of doing what they did was common practice at Whale Oil.

Slater and Whale Oil attacks targeted and affected hundreds of people nd their families and associates. Not just MPs and Prime Ministers, but also people standing for National Party candidacy – I recall dirty tactics in the Northland and Rodney electorates for example, which appear to have been paid for hit jobs.

Len Brown and his family (and Bevan Chuang) were adversely affected by an attempt by Slater to overturn the 2013 mayoral election in 2013.

Families of dead people were attacked, most notably the West Coast feral incident which may be related to the hack that resulted in Dirty Politics being published.

There is a long list of victims of Whale Oil, and of Slater and associates including Atkins who continued some divisive attack posting, including support of international far right operators.

While there were some notable successes and achievements, Slater and Whale Oil will mostly be remembered for being dirty and toxic, and for crashing and burning while blaming others for their self inflicted predicaments.

The new site will lose the brand and probably quite a bit of recognition and support, but will carry with it the dirt and the failures of Whale Oil.more on that in another post.

Other coverage:

The Spinoff: RIP Whaleoil.net.nz (2005-2019): the blog that turned NZ politics feral

It is customary to say kind words about a person or entity when they leave this world forever. So what then can one say about Whaleoil, the blog which in 2014 described a victim of a car crash as a “feral”?

So farewell Whaleoil.net.nz. If it is to be remembered for anything, let it be for making politics a crueler, and more viscerally hateful arena. May we never see its like again.

RNZ: Whaleoil ends after 15 years of political blogs

The right-wing blog Whaleoil has closed in the wake of its parent company going bust, defamation cases and its controversial founder Cameon Slater suffering a stroke.

Whaleoil has been running for 15 years. It was the subject of the 2014 book Dirty Politics by the investigative journalist Nicky Hager, which detailed its close links with some National MPs in running smear campaigns against political opponents.

NZ Herald: The end of the Whaleoil blog – from an outlet for depression to financial pressure and court battles

The Whaleoil blog has shut down, bringing an end to an online publishing effort which began as an outlet for mental health issues – and ended in infamy and financial failure.

A number of people involved in the blog, or linked to it, did not wish to comment when contacted. National MP Judith Collins, who has described Slater as a family friend and was revealed in Dirty Politics to have passed information to Slater, did not respond to an interview request.

Neither Slater nor wife Juana Atkins responded to requests for comment.

Hager welcomed the final post as “positive for New Zealand politics”.

“The Whaleoil blog was incredibly destructive and hurt many, many people who didn’t deserve it and was part of an era of particularly ugly politics and we should rejoice it is finally gone.”

Kiwiblog: Vale Whale Oil

The end of one era but the start of a new one. I wish them well.

David Farrar loyal to the end, which is a bit odd given Whale Oil’s campaigning against Bill English and National, and their ongoing campaign against Simon Bridges .

Comments from other National supporters at Kiwiblog:

Tony Stuart

WO (the blog, not the individual) has been shilling for Bridges to be replaced for more than a year. As a paid-up party member, I can’t see it happening.

Bridges has emerged from the party conference last weekend in good form, with the party vote still holding up at 45%. I am almost certain that would drop if Bridges was rolled as leader. As much as I respect Judith Collins as a politician, I don’t believe she is the right person to be leading National at the moment.

peterwn

Most of the shilling has come from SB. I do not recollect her shilling against Simon when Cam was active. Is she taking instructions from Cam’s sick-bed?

Tony Stuart

Highly likely, I would think.

The Standard: Later Whaleoil

I wonder if this is strategic?  And I wonder how creditors feel about this announcement?  I am sure they will be interested that there is a proper amount paid for any IP the Whaleoil site may have.

While Whale Oil may have waxed, waned and now withered from public view there is likely to be more unravelling in the background.


Legal facts you won’t see on Whale Oil:

 

The Great Hack – democracy at risk of serious damage

If you value information privacy, online integrity and democratic processes, and you have access to Netflix, then I recommend you watch The Great Hack.

It is a documentary movie that shows how the acquisition of online data, in particular from Facebook, has been used to manipulate opinions and elections. The now bankrupt UK based company Cambridge Analytica is one of the main focuses, with close links to the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the Donald Trump nomination and election as US president. Russian influence in elections is also a part of the story.

 

From a review by Odie Henderson (robertebert.com):

“The Great Hack” concerns itself with the United States Presidential election of 2016 and, to a lesser extent, the Brexit vote and other international political campaigns. The common factor in all these events is a now-defunct firm called Cambridge Analytica, represented throughout the film by several former employees. At the height of its powers, the company held up to 5,000 data points about each of the people contained in its databases.

This information was used for a variety of purposes meant to manipulate a certain cross-section of people. The master manipulators didn’t go after people whose minds had been made up; they went after on-the-fence folks referred to as “the persuadables.” Using the collected data, Cambridge Analytica set out to create fear and/or apathy to achieve the results of the political parties that hired them. Carroll’s lawsuit is an attempt to retrieve the data collected on him.

And how did the thousands of points of data wind up in those databases? Well, you willingly gave it to them, dear readers. Remember those seemingly innocent Facebook quizzes that you took to determine what Disney villain you were, or whether you were an introvert or any other goofy question you couldn’t wait to have answered so you could share it with friends online? Those little diversions asked specific questions that were used to harvest data.

Based on this and other information gleaned from Facebook posts and the friends with whom you associated on that platform, the data analysis tools used artificial intelligence and evaluations to create a startlingly accurate profile of you. Carroll asks his class if they ever think their phone is listening in on them because the ads they see seem perfectly tailored for them. Everyone says yes. Carroll tells them that this manufactured profile is why.

This is sure to be a controversial documentary, not just because it sees Brexit and the GOP Presidential campaign involvement with Cambridge Analytica as a sinister, almost military-grade level of psychological warfare against an unsuspecting public, but because it also highlights how large groups of people can easily be led to vote against their own interests.

There’s a too-brief section focusing on the “Do So” campaign in Trinidad and Tobago, where social media was flooded with catchy graphics and slogans designed to foster apathy in folks who would vote for the side not allegedly in cahoots with Cambridge. The Do So campaign made it seem cool not to vote at all, so many young people did not. As with the American campaign, the bombardment of ads and demonizing and false news stories was relentless.

The movie named a number of countries in which similar Cambridge Analytica had experimented, and also showed a map of the spread around the world. New Zealand appears to have avoided being targeted – so far. But I think that it’s likely that similar targeted ‘psychological warfare’ is likely to be tried here, if it hasn’t been already.

Breitbart News is also connected in The Great Hack.  Here in New Zealand the now far right Whale Oil website has championed Breitbart and modeled themselves on them, including the use of ‘fake news’ targeting political and ethnic/religious groups. ‘Whaleoil staff’ put up such a post yesterday.

Some of those who like the result of the Brexit referendum and the last US presidential election may see no problem here, but unless solutions are found then democracy around the world may well be heading for destruction.

Indeed, that is the aim of some of those who are trying to manipulate minds online, and swing elections – they believe that a breakdown of the current political systems is necessary to impose their own power structures on countries.

One thing in our  favour here may be that New Zealand has been relatively insignificant in the  the whole scheme of world politics and power.

But – if the international populism of Jacinda Ardern is seen as a threat to those using online data and online forums to brainwash people who are susceptible to being influenced then I don’t think we can rule out significant foreign interference in a future election here.

Fortunately the firearms reforms here have had near unanimous support in Parliament, with no time for major interference from abroad, although the US NRA has been linked to some attempts to swing opinion here in support of unfettered access to weapons.

But upcoming referendums on cannabis law reform, and possibly in euthanasia could be at risk. The debates on these issues have already been subject to false claims and distortions by some groups intent on imposing their views on the wider population.

Democracy is at risk of serious damage, due to the quest for profits by huge online media companies, and the harvesting and use of private data in a new and insidious form of propaganda by interest groups and countries,

Our democracy has not been perfect, but it has been better than most if not all alternatives. It is at real risk of being munted by international money makers and power seekers.

Earth Overshoot Day – 29 July 2019

29 July 2019 has been calculated by Global Footprint Network as “the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

It’s worse for many countries, including New Zealand – they say that we used a year’s worth of resources on 9 May, well under half a year.

figure showing country overshoot days

While the trend has been flattening out over the last decade it has worsened substantially over the last four decades.

The calculation:

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:

(Planet’s Biocapacity Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

Global Ecological Footprint and biocapacity metrics are calculated each year in the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. Using UN statistics, these accounts incorporate the latest data and the most updated accounting methodology (the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2019 Edition feature 2016 data.) To estimate this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, Ecological Footprint and biocapacity are “nowcasted” to the current year using the latest data from additional sources, such as the Global Carbon Project.

While the actual dates could be quibbled about, I think that a valid and important point is being made – the human population and the way we live exceeds what our planet can cope with, by quite a margin. If this excess continues then Earth will suffer badly (more badly) – which means people and all creatures and plants will suffer. We may be able too carry on despite the damage we are contributing to, but bodes badly for our children and grandchildren.

It’s easy to dismiss this as not our problem, to say that it’s someone else’s problem, but that’s a part of the problem.

It won’t be quick or easy to turn things around, but there is growing attention being paid to at least making things less bd.,

Solutions to #MoveTheDate

From there, one suggestion from Gene Geveridge who is from the north of New Zealand:

Anecdotally there is interest in creating or joining a shared garden for the purpose of food production, food security, food education, and if possible ecological regeneration. Achieving some economy of scale, fostering community relationships and reducing food transport would be more general goals. Success depends on a few people with the right knowledge and experience and a wider group for man-power and to learn the ropes in time.

A setup similar to this could work: https://www.facebook.com/PakarakaPermaculture

That would have environmental as well as community benefits – but it’s remarkable that the right knowledge and experience to help people to learn the ropes to grow their own produce in a garden is seen as necessary. The knowledge and the practice of home gardening seems to have deteriorated alarmingly over the last half century.

I have a home garden and orchard, but could and should do a lot more. This is a project I will be working on more – on it’s own it will just make a tiny difference, but we need a lot of tiny differences to make a real difference.

 

 

Peter Ellis appeal to be heard by Supreme Court

Peter Ellis was found guilty on 13 charges of abusing children at the Christchurch Civic Creche in 1993. He served seven years of a 10-year prison term, being released in 2000.

There were a number of controversial aspects of the investigation and trial of Ellis, including a range of bizarre allegations, and I think the case is deserving of being re-examined.

In 2015 Justice Minister Amy Adams declined a request from supporters for a commission of inquiry, saying it did not contain new evidence and would not determine guilt – see Peter Ellis considers Privy Council bid

The Supreme Court has now accepted an appeal from Ellis.

Case Name Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis v The Queen
Summary Criminal Appeal – Whether there was a miscarriage of justice arising from risks of contamination of or improperly obtained complainant evidence – Whether there was a miscarriage of justice arising from lack of expert evidence on the reliability of children complainants’ evidence – Whether there was a miscarriage of justice due to unreliable expert evidence being led at trial.
Judgment appealed from – Court of Appeal CA 120/98 14 October 1999

Court of Appeal decision: The Queen v Ellis [1999] NZCA 226; [2000] 1 NZLR 513; (2000) 17 CRNZ 411 (14 October 1999)

Introduction

[1] Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis faced trial in the Christchurch High Court on 28 counts alleging sexual offences against a number of young children attending the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre. The trial commenced on 26 April 1993 and at its conclusion some six weeks later he was convicted on 16 counts. Three were the subject of a discharge by the Judge during trial, and 9 verdicts of acquittal were entered. On 22 September he was sentenced to an effective term of 10 years imprisonment. On appeal to this Court, in a judgment delivered on 8 September 1994 now reported as R v Ellis (1994) 12 CRNZ 172, three of the counts against one complainant were because of her retraction quashed and verdicts of acquittal directed, but the appeal was otherwise dismissed. Following two applications made to the Governor-General, acting pursuant to s406(a) of the Crimes Act 1961 His Excellency referred the question of the 13 convictions to this Court for hearing and determination. The Order in Council is dated 12 May 1999, identifies five broad grounds contained in the applications, and records these as forming the reasons for the reference.

Result

[95] For the reasons stated, we are not persuaded that any individual ground of appeal has been made out. Neither are we persuaded that their cumulative effect constitutes a miscarriage of justice. The appeal is therefore dismissed.

Now from Stuff:  Peter Ellis asks Supreme Court to hear his appeal over Civic Creche convictions

Ellis, now 61, served seven years of a 10-year jail sentence, before being released in February 2000.

The lawyer who represented him at his trial in 1993, Rob Harrison, is once again on the case and says thousands of hours of work had been done looking at the field of child psychology and what impacts on young interview subjects.

“It deserves to be aired and looked at again,” Harrison said.

Developments in research undertaken over the past 25 years gave better information about how children respond and how to get information from them.

“I would have often thought about the case and it’s one of those cases that is always there.

“It needs to be resolved and it’s a shame it has taken us this long.”

Ellis stood trial at the High Court in Christchurch in 1993, and was convicted of 16 charges after a six-week trial. He had been discharged on some charges and acquitted on others.

Three of the convictions were overturned on appeal in 1994 when one of the complainants retracted her allegations.

Following applications to the governor-general to exercise the prerogative of mercy, the case was referred back to the Court of Appeal in 1999, but the remaining 13 convictions stood.

Throughout, the case called into question the techniques used to interview child complainants and the risk that their evidence might have been contaminated.

It was suggested parents and professional interviewers had asked direct and suggestive questions of children, and that the children were spoken to repeatedly about the allegations.

The Supreme Court has a two-step appeal process.

The court first decides if it will hear the appeal, based on whether it is in the interests of justice. The judges consider whether it is a matter of general public importance, and whether a substantial miscarriage of justice has occurred or will occur if the appeal is not heard.

It is only if the court gives permission that an appeal can be heard.

Since Ellis was first convicted the Supreme Court has taken over from the Privy Council in London as New Zealand’s highest court. The Crown had agreed to Ellis taking his case to the Supreme Court rather than seeking a Privy Council appeal.

The Ellis case has prompted more scrutiny than almost any other in New Zealand’s legal history, involving three court hearings, four petitions seeking his pardon, and numerous other campaigns.

A senior Christchurch lawyer who had previously represented Ellis, Nigel Hampton, QC, has continued to take an interest.

“I think it is a festering sore,” he said recently.

Hampton said then he would not want judges appointed to a commission, and favoured allowing reviews to continue even after the subject of them had died.

“Peter Ellis comes to mind. If he were to die. I think [that] is an extraordinary miscarriage of justice.”

“In contrast to most miscarriage cases, where the wrong person is convicted of something, Ellis has been convicted of crimes that never existed. If he were to die, he would still die a convicted man.”

Obviously this is an important case for Ellis, and a test of the way in which child abuse cases are investigated, but it is also a very important test of the New Zealand judicial system, which seems averse to challenging questionable verdicts.

 

 

Boris Johnson now PM of UK

In the increasingly less united United Kingdom the Conservative Party has chosen Boris Johnson to take over as Prime Minister from Theresa May.

Missy reports:


Anyway, as you will know Boris won the leadership election as expected, today he was officially sworn in as PM by the Queen and immediately set about doing his cabinet reshuffle.

24 July 2019 is becoming known as the summer’s day massacre as Boris culls the cabinet.

So far he has sacked 18 from cabinet.

The big appointments so far are:

Chancellor – Sajid Javid
Home Secretary – Priti Patel

Expected: Dominic Raab to be named Foreign Secretary


Financial Times: Sajid Javid picked as chancellor in first Boris Johnson appointment – latest news

Guardian: Boris Johnson cabinet: Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab given top jobs – live news

An interesting lineup of names with just ‘Johnson’  being of English origin (the new Prime Minister’s multi-cultural full name being Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson).

Guardian: In full: Boris Johnson’s first speech as prime minister – video

Silver Ferns win Netball World Cup

Defying form over the last couple of years, and also seedings and predictions, New Zealand’s Silver ferns have won the 2019 Netball World Cup, beating Australia in the final in Liverpool by just one goal.

 

I even felt a bit emotional watching the final minutes, seeing the reactions to the result, and then the presentations and the national anthem.

Coach Noelene Taurua and everyone else involved in the campaign deserve a lot of credit too.

I’m not a great netball fan, but this is a great effort and a great result.

Netball New Zealand: Silver Ferns win Vitality Netball World Cup

 

“Bankruptcy is a joke” – Slater

Cameron Slater filed for bankruptcy in February in response to mounting legal debts in multiple defamation proceedings against him. He (via his lawyer Brian Henry) has also tried to use that bankruptcy to try to avoid complying with Court orders in one ongoing defamation case, but Palmer J didn’t agree:

On 20 March 2019, I ordered this proceeding to continue against Mr Slater despite his bankruptcy, under a wide discretion in s 76(2) of the Insolvency Act 2006 (the Act).

I now make it explicit under that discretion and/or under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to supervise proceedings before it. That means Mr Slater must comply with the court orders irrespective of Mr Henry’s argument about the effect of his bankruptcy. Further argument is not required.

I regard Mr Henry’s submission about the different legal personalities of a bankrupt and a bankrupt estate as a nice academic issue.

I would expect a bankrupt continues to be personally responsible for the discharge of duties in legal
proceedings which are purely personal in nature and unrelated to any property interest of the bankrupt.

The issue here is whether Mr Slater’s bankruptcy necessarily negates the need to comply with the Court’s orders to date. Irrespective of the default legal effect created by Mr Slater’s bankruptcy, I consider it need not and that it does not.

– see judgment CIV-2016-404-1312 [2019] NZHC 1666

In May 2014 Slater posted Bankruptcy is just a joke, really

Bankruptcy is like a toothless tiger that benefits the bankrupt more than the victims.

The number of times bankrupts hide assets and continue to operate companies by using a puppet on the paperwork is so frequent as to make the process of being in bankruptcy pretty much meaningless.

Use of trusts, partners or girlfriends to “own” things and plain hiding of assets from the Official Assignee are very common.

What isn’t common is for bankrupts to be prosecuted for this behaviour.

It is good to see this may be changing.

See (Stuff):  Whale Oil company previously owned by Cameron Slater goes into liquidation

And: Whale Oil company put into liquidation after rearrangements

In June 2014 Slater (Whale Oil) followed up with An insiders view of bankruptcy and insolvency in NZ

I read your blog from time to time and also tend to pick up pieces you run on insolvency type issues such as the one you ran recently titled “Bankruptcy is a Joke.”

I am in my 50s and have pretty well been part of the insolvency industry in NZ since the day I walked out of Uni all those years ago. I thought I would post a few pieces to you on insolvency to explain how it works and why we have so many issues in this area

By far the bulk of liquidations in NZ are voluntary appointments by shareholders. 75% of shareholders can vote to put a company into liquidation and appoint a named liquidator. If the liquidator consents to appointment then they are appointed.

There are two ways to get work as a liquidator, get clients who liquidate companies and get them seeking your consent to be liquidator or offer a service whereby shareholders can put their companies into liquidation (voluntary liquidation), or a mixture of both. Voluntary liquidations are by far the easier option.

But how do you sell yourself? – “Appoint me as liquidator and I will come after your company’s assets, the current account you owe and I will turn over those transactions where your mates got paid but others didn’t.” Not a great way to promote business.

On the other hand – “appoint me and I will just sit back and do bugger all. I will turn a blind eye to the transactions that have occurred and I will accept your weak ass explanations about how your current account had been paid back.” That is the dilemma facing a lot of liquidators who rely on voluntary appointments to make a living. Do I kick ass and lose business or do I go easy and get more business.

Some liquidators seem to do a good job some of the time but turn a blind eye at other times. Other liquidators are extremely active in providing a service to defeat creditors. They achieve this by simply doing nothing. They dismiss creditor enquiry and bury the company.

How can you deal with this? They are currently looking to regulate the industry and to have accountability back to an umbrella organisation. Will this work. I am sceptical, we already have chartered accountants doing liquidations who are under the supervision of NZICA with little in the way of holding errant liquidators to account. I actually don’t disagree with the powers liquidators have. They can get nearly any information they want, they can compel people to attend upon them and they don’t need to answer to anyone outside of reporting obligations.

The last thing a liquidator needs is people holding up a process of selling assets that wont cover everyone’s debt in full or even any of the debt. They need the freedom to do the job. But, and I think this is where the problem lies, the power granted to liquidators assumes that they are professionals with high integrity who will do the job properly, unfortunately I don’t think that is the case in all instances.

In the case of the liquidation of Social Media Consultants I expect the liquidator will do a professional job, although they may be constrained by the amount of funds available to pay for their services unless there are sufficient assets.

On Whale Oil on 6 June 2016: Rodney Hide on insolvency and the wild west of the industry

Rodney Hide writes in the NBR of the gobsmacking arrogance of the Official Assignee, the lack of accountability and the general parlous state of insolvency.

I have also been investigating several liquidators and I know of one who has recovered millions from debtors and also banked millions in fees leaving a few cents in the dollar for aggrieved creditors.

The whole industry appears peppered with former bankrupts, banned directors and convicted criminals.

The Official Assignee office is frankly tits at their work.

The whole industry is filled with ratbags and run like the wild west.

As I said the whole industry is filled from top to bottom with people who are little better than mafia stand over merchants.

On Whale Oil on 20 June 2016: Alarming incompetence at the Insolvency Service

One thing I admire about Rodney Hide, is that he sticks by his mates. But this story highlights some dreadful incompetence at the Insolvency Service. This is not an isolated case. I am sitting on files of equally alarming incompetence in the Auckland office of the Official Assignee.

It is so bad in some instances it might well be considered corruption, such is the inaction on several bankruptcies and the carry-on of the bankrupts.

It?s not that one officer with one decision screwed up. The very guidelines for their staff are based on the wrong law.

The minister should by rights have an independent inquiry into the Insolvency Service?s failure to stick within its own statute. I could help him. Indeed, I have enough in my own file to make his eyes water. I stand ready to serve.

As will I.

Slater has shown more interest in trying to serve his own interests.

But that didn’t work out for him in the current defamation case. I doubt he will be seeing bankruptcy as such a joke now.

Time will tell how his bankruptcy, his liquidation, and his blog will fare.

Sellman (and others) versus Slater (and others) – Slater and his lawyer want out

Another defamation proceeding involving Cameron Slater that is encountering persistent delays – this case starting in mid-2016, and three years later still looks a long way off going to trial.

(The Matt Blomfield versus Slater and Social Media Consultants defamation started after a series of posts on the Whale Oil website in 2012, and while Slater was last year found by a court to have no defence damages won’t be dealt with until next year. Colin Craig versus Slater began in mid-2015 and is still going).

Newsroom: Lawyer: Let me off Whaleoil case

In October last year and again in March, Justice Palmer decided Slater and Graham had provided insufficient answers to questions from the medical academics’ lawyers and needed to do so, both in writing and by turning up to court personally for face to face interviews.

Slater has not done so. On his behalf, Henry has argued Slater had two medical opinions saying he was too ill to continue with the case. Then he argued the personal bankruptcy meant the defamation action should be halted and any action that survived ought to be against the Official Assignee as legal custodian of Slater’s property and finances.

In March, Justice Palmer used his discretion to order the case would go on, despite the bankruptcy. The plaintiffs then sought orders forcing Slater to comply and making him respond in writing to their application.

In April Justice Palmer decided there was no “medical evidence on the basis of which I could be satisfied Mr Slater was then incapacitated so that I could appoint a litigation guardian for him.”

The judge regarded Henry’s arguments about the different legal personalities of a bankrupt and the bankrupt’s estate as “a nice academic issue” but decided “I would expect a bankrupt continues to be personally responsible for the discharge of duties in legal proceedings which are purely personal in nature and unrelated to any property interest of the bankrupt” and “no further argument is required.”

Now, in his eighth judgment on these matters, delivered on Tuesday, he says Slater is either actually too ill to continue – in which case either a “litigation guardian” should be appointed or a proper court hearing on his illness and examination of his medical evidence needs to be held – or Slater simply does not want to want to do so. “In which case, he must face the consequences of the plaintiff’s current application.”

The judgment yesterday details the latest court saga:

[1] In this proceeding, three medical professionals sue Mr Cameron Slater, and other defendants, for defamation…

The proceeding

[5] This proceeding was commenced three years ago, in mid-2016. The plaintiffs are three medical professionals, Dr Doug Sellman, Dr Boyd Swinburn and Mr Shane Bradbrook. They sue Mr Slater who they allege defamed them in a series of blog posts on his Whale Oil website. They also sue Mr Carrick Graham and his company Facilitate Communications Ltd (FCL) for defaming them in comments on the posts. And they sue Mrs Katherine Rich and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Ltd (NZFGC) for allegedly procuring Mr Slater, Mr Graham and FCL to publish the substance and sting of the alleged defamation.

Slater’s lawyer Brian Henry is now claiming that due to a stroke suffered in late October 2018 Slater is unable to give him instructions, but had given him instructions on some matters that suited Slater. And Henry wanted the court to excuse him from representing Slater, but he has continued to represent him on a personal basis anyway.

It’s a messy situation for Henry, made worse by Slater filing for bankruptcy in February.

Slater and his family are claiming that he should no longer participate in the proceedingsfor health and stress reasons.

The state of play up until this judgment:

[1}…In an interlocutory judgment of 23 November 2018, I ordered Mr Slater to provide further particular discovery and to attend court to be orally examined. Since then, Mr Henry, for Mr Slater, has: applied for a temporary stay on the basis Mr Slater’s medical condition prevented him giving  instructions; foreshadowed an intention to apply for appointment of a litigation guardian; advised of Mr Slater’s bankruptcy; and advised that he has instructions to oppose new applications but that Mr Slater no longer defends the substantive proceeding.

[2] The plaintiffs have applied for orders that Mr Slater comply with the court orders for discovery and oral examination or be held in contempt of court. Mr Henry now submits, on Mr Slater’s instructions, that Mr Slater is no longer a party to the proceeding or able to engage a solicitor, because he is bankrupt, and he seeks a formal hearing on that issue. Mr Henry also says there are medical reports from February 2019 confirming Mr Slater is unable to give evidence in court.

[3] On 20 March 2019, I ordered this proceeding to continue against Mr Slater despite his bankruptcy, under a wide discretion in s 76(2) of the Insolvency Act 2006 (the Act).

The full judgment may be of interest to legal geeks (I’m not a legal person but have acquired a habit of reading through legal judgments), but here I’ll skip to the middle:

[16] In Minute No 15 of 2 April 2019, I did not consider there was any medical evidence on the basis of which I could be satisfied Mr Slater was then incapacitated so that I could appoint a litigation guardian for him. I noted Mr Slater appeared to intend not to comply with the discovery and oral examination orders, made in the 23 November 2018 judgment, and that he had sought to avoid complying with them from 14 December 2018 by successively applying for a stay on medical grounds, indicating he would apply for appointment of a litigation guardian, withdrawing instructions from counsel, indicating he would take no steps and applying for bankruptcy.

So the judge is nu buying Slater’s claims without evidence.

And to the end.

[28] Section 76(2) of the Act provides that “on the application by any creditor or other person interested in the bankruptcy, the court may allow proceedings that had already begun before the date of adjudication to continue on the terms and conditions that the court thinks appropriate”. That is, if anything, wider than the court’s discretion in the predecessor section which was characterised by the High Court as wide.

[29] Under the discretion, on 20 March 2019, I ordered this proceeding to continue against Mr Slater. I consider it is an implicit term of that order that Mr Slater must comply with orders made against him in the proceeding, which was one of the reasons why the plaintiffs sought its continuation against him. If that was not sufficiently implicit, I now make it explicit under that discretion and/or under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to supervise proceedings before it. That means Mr Slater must comply with the court orders irrespective of Mr Henry’s argument about the effect of his bankruptcy. Given that, I do not consider the court and the parties need to incur yet further delays from, and the expense of, argument about that issue. Further argument is not required.

[30] Mr Slater must comply with the orders personally if the Official Assignee cannot do so through the exercise of the Assignee’s powers. The order to be examined orally must be complied with by Mr Slater personally, subject to what I say below about his medical condition. If the Official Assignee has possession of, and control over, Mr Slater’s documents sufficient to discharge Mr Slater’s obligations under the discovery order then I request the Official Assignee to arrange compliance with that order. Otherwise, Mr Slater will need to comply with that obligation personally too.

Mr Slater’s medical condition

[33] In terms of Mr Slater’s medical condition, I identify three possibilities:

(a) either Mr Slater is incapacitated and not able to give instructions, in which case a litigation guardian must be appointed for him under r 4.30 of the High Court Rules 2016; or

(b) Mr Slater is able to give instructions but is not medically able to provide discovery and/or be orally examined, in which case medical evidence of that must be provided and tested if required in response to the plaintiffs’ current application to compel compliance or sanction for contempt; or

(c) Mr Slater is able to give instructions, is able to provide discovery and be orally examined but does not want to do so, in which case he must face the consequences of the plaintiffs’ current application.

[34] I assume that possibility (a) is not the case, because Mr Henry has most recently said he has instructions from Mr Slater. If, now or at some future point, Mr Henry were to tell me Mr Slater is incapacitated and not able to give instructions, then I would want to see an affidavit explaining the basis of such a statement and its consistency with the various statements made to me to date and I would consider appointing a litigation guardian under r 4.35 of the Rules.

[35] If possibility (b) or (c) is the case, Mr Slater will need to file a notice of opposition to the plaintiffs’ application to compel compliance or sanction for contempt, with any supporting affidavits, by 1 pm Monday 22 July 2019, if he wishes to oppose the application.

Doubts have been raised here about claims of how debilitating the stoke was. Slater was commenting on Whale Oil soon after his stroke. And this was posted on Whale Oil in April:

Having just spent a bit of time with the boss I can tell you a couple of things.

He’ll be back if he chooses to be.

The mans grit and fortitude are unbelievable.
We had a reasonably active weekend and he stayed the course and even after he’d already told me he was knackered he then walked another kilometer.

Then the bloke that had lost all use of his right arm a few short months ago and has only regained a portion of its use and is in constant pain, picks up his shotgun, takes 3 practice swings and then proceeds to blow 9 out of 10 clay pigeons out of the air using the 2nd barrel only once.
If I hadn’t seen it (and scored it) I wouldn’t have believed it.

Bloody amazing man.

See Slater active recovering from stroke. Not such an amazing man when it comes to court matters – unless that grit and fortitude is applied to avoidance.

But it looks like the current avoidance hasn’t been successful.

 [32] …I will be hearing the plaintiffs’ application to compel compliance or sanction for contempt at 10 am on Friday 26 July 2019.

So the case will proceed, with Slater required to front up or risks being found in contempt of court for not complying with legal requirements. That can be a serious matter.

England worthy winners of Cricket World Cup

England were worthy winners of the Cricket World Cup just completed at Lord’s in London.

New Zealand’s Black Caps were worthy runners up.

They won by the smallest of margins. The scores were tied after 50 overs, 241 runs to each side. The scores were tied again after a super over, 15 runs each. England won due to the higher number of boundaries scored – that’s the rules so there can be no complaints about that.

There are a number rof things that happened during the game that could have made the difference, could have swung the game one way or the other, but in the end that is all irrelevant. What matters is the final score and the final deciding factor, and England did what mattered.

England have been a top one day team over the last few years and were tournament favourites. They had some wobbles during pool play but won their semi-final easily against defending champions Australia, and won the final just over New Zealand.

This is the first time England have won the World Cup, so very good for them, and despite some disappointment at the result I actually feel as good a as a loser could for the winning team.

The Black Caps exceeded my expectations against Inndia in their semi-final, and exceeded my expectations in the final. I always hoped they could win, and they came so close to doing so, but my main thoughts coming into this game were hoping they would wouldn’t lose badly, and that they would lose with credit.

They couldn’t have come closer so couldn’t have come out of this tournament with more credit, short of winning.

This was one of the greatest games of cricket ever and was also worthy of a final. It will be very good for the game to have had such a hard fought, close game, played in extremely good spirit by England and New Zealand.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand  captain):

“Look, it certainly wasn’t just one extra run. So many small parts in that match that could have gone either way as we saw. Congratulations to England on a fantastic campaign.

It’s been challenging, the pitches have been a little different to what we expected. Lots of talk of 300-plus scores, but we haven’t seen many of those.

I’d like to thank the New Zealand team for the fight they showed to keep us in the tournament, and get us this far. A tie in the final. So many parts to it. The players are shattered at the moment. Obviously it’s devastating. They’ve performed at such a high level through the tournament.

We were weighing up the overheads versus the pitch, it was on the drier side. runs on the board, as it proved, was going to be challenging. We would have liked another 20, but in a World Cup final we’ll take 240-250. Both sides showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight. For it to go to the last ball, and the last ball of the next match, it was pretty hard. That [the Stokes deflection] was a bit of a shame, wasn’t it? You just hope it doesn’t happen in moments like that. You can nitpick, but perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be for us. It is perhaps tough to review the match, and such small margins.”

Eoin Morgan (England captain):

“There wasn’t a lot in that game, jeez. I’d like to commiserate with Kane. The fight, the spirit they showed. I thought it was a hard, hard game.

This has been a four-year journey, we’ve developed a lot over those years, particularly the last two. To get over the line today means the world to us. The guys in the middle keep us cool, the way they play, the experience. It’s calming at times. Not a lot between the teams. Just delighted we’re lifting the trophy today.

As long as he wasn’t too cooked [sending Stokes back out for the Super Over]. Full credit to those two boys and Jofra. Every time he plays, he improves. The world is really at his feet at the moment.”

More misuse of Harmful Digital Publications Act?

The Harmful Digital Publications Act was promoted as a way to address online bullying, especially of young people, but here is another claim that it has been used to try to suppress critical information. ‘Mason Bee’:

There is a flaw in New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act that is being exploited to take down content on the Internet. Because most allegations have to go through the Approved Agency (NetSafe) before going to the courts anyone can start a trivial, frivolous, or vexatious case with them without having to prove that they had suffered the level of serious emotional harm that is required by the law.

I don’t know whether the HDCA is effective at addressing online bullying and abuse, but it has been misused be vexatious online bullies since 2015. A year before the HDCA came into force some of the worst online abusers in New Zealand duped a judge in trying to prosecute me and shut this site down because I kept exposing there attacks here. See:

I was notified again recently be Netsafe of a complaint from the same person, Marc Spring, who didn’t like being exposed here or in the Whale Oil book, along with co-online bully Cameron Slater.  Once again Spring appears to have not followed procedures defined in the act properly.

Mason Bee:

To make matters worse, NetSafe doesn’t appear to be keeping any records of the numbers of these cases. When asked how many public figures had sought to use the process they refused the OAI request on the grounds that they would have to search over 7000 records. With almost 3000 of those records coming from 2018 this is a hidden problem that is only going to get worse.

Netsafe have a job to do, and have to try to deal with both legitimate and frivolous or vexatious complaints.  I found them ok to deal with, but they didn’t provide me with any details about the complaint. They can only liaise and moderate, and if that doesn’t resolve issues it can become a police or court matter if there is merit in the complaint (although as I have found out, cases without merit resulted in lengthy and costly court proceedings).

Mason Bee:

How do I know this? Because I was targetted by a minor politician who decided to use the NetSafe process and demand that I change a post and cease writing about her in the future.

That post is titled Suzie Dawson and the Whistle-blower

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

It all came to a head for in March of 2019 when I wrote a post called Who is Suzie Dawson: Exile or Fraud? In it I questioned her claims, her history, warned people about her conduct, asked more questions and published a, then unanswered, complaint to the Secretary of the Internet Party saying I believed she had;

When the Internet Party Secretary replied, almost a month after the initial complaint, he refused to escalate the complaint and dismissed it as personal attack, not in the interests of the Party and because I had already published it online. Nothing was heard from Suzie during this time and she continued to ask for donations using the name and imagery of the Internet Party.

Then, in May, I received an email.

The same standard email I received from Netsafe saying they wanted to chat about a complaint that had been made.

At first I was absolutely sure it could not be Suzie Dawson. There was no way that a public figure who purports to fight for whistleblowers and journalist’s could be stupid enough to try and invoke a law made to protect teenagers from online bullying in order to silence criticism against her.

It turned out I was wrong. Suzie Dawson, in an act of lawfare, used New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015) to try and get me to remove statements from my website and to stop me writing about her in the future. She used a cyberbullying law to try and remove my right to Freedom of Expression.

I doubt there is a more perfect example of how she really feels about whistle-blowers or journalists.

If I had not been in a position where I had access to legal advice it is likely I would have been forced to alter or withdraw my posts, possibly even take down my website, in fear of litigation.

I’m not going to make any judgment on this specific issue, I’m merely giving it more of an airing because both online abuse and misuse of the HDCA and the courts as a weapon by online bullies, or of attempts to suppress information by people involved in politics is of  public interest.

If Suzie Dawson wants to put her side of the story forward in response here in a reasonable manner I offer her a right of reply.

I presume that legitimate complaints of online bullying are being dealt with by Netsafe, and some of them surface as prosecutions in the courts.

But I think that more information about misuse and abuse of the HDCA is needed. This is an important public online issue.

I think that it is important that Netsafe deal with valid complaints of online bullying, but also that people are aware their rights when subject to frivolous or vexatious complaints. The more extreme examples will be obvious, but there is likely to be a more murky middle.