Labour behaviour problem deeper and wider than leadership

Last week The Standard demonstrated that the problems with behaviour in the Labour Party and the way it was dealt with runs deeper and wider than leadership and Parliament.

The Labour staffer story that was published last Monday by The Spinoff – A Labour volunteer alleged a violent sexual assault by a Labour staffer. This is her story – set off the biggest political news story through the week, with the spotlight on the Labour Party and it’s leadership. Party president Nigel Haworth resigned on Wednesday, and the staffer resigned from his job in the leader’s Office in Parliament on Thursday.

As the story progressed a lot of attention turned to what Jacinda Ardern knew or didn’t know , and to  lesser extent what one of her senior ministers, Grant Robertson knew and when.

The terms of reference of an inquiry are expected to be announced today by Ardern. She has promised a comprehensive investigation, but there have been reports of debate within the Labour Party council about the scope of the inquiry, with suggestions that some have tried to exclude scrutiny of how they handled the initial internal inquiry that is widely seen as badly botched.

But problems with how claims of bullying assault and sexual assault are dealt with have been deeper in the party, and wider than Labour.

Green MPs who are often speak strongly against attacks against women and abuses of power seem to have been silent on this.

There have been attempts to deflect by arguing that National have handled things poorly in the past – they have, last year and years ago, but that’s in the main an attempt at diversion. National have been accused by some of engineering the criticism of Labour and Ardern, with some bizarre conspiracies suggested. Paula Bennett in particular has been targeted because as a last resort some victims went to her to try to force Labour into action (which she helped achieve).

There has been a number of people on Twitter running the diversions, dumping on the messengers and blaming National and the media.

The Standard blog is strongly (but not exclusively) aligned with Labour. The way the issue has been dealt with there is s sign that the culture of bullying, and of burying bad news, runs deeper in the party than party and parliamentary leadership.

There was nothing mentioned about last Mondays biggest political story until I posted about it here.

I kept posting comments about it through the week, and it was well discussed.

It wasn’t until Thursday until the first and only post, by Te Reo Putake – Accused Labour Party Staffer Resigns

It was a light week for posts at The Standard, with Labour stalwart mickysavage doing his best to divert to National bashing and trying to portray National as worse at dealing with scandals.

But Open Forums were active discussing the issue through the week, aided by me posting daily revelations.

On Wednesday I posted about several media reports, and also on the open letter to Ardern by Labour Party supporters concerned about how it was being dealt with (they demanded the resignation of Haworth).

lprent gave me a not very subtle warning.

[lprent: I’d suggest that you be careful about claiming authentication of that ‘open letter’ here. I read that article and I simply don’t believe it. Apparently nor do many others – 100 people adding to it doesn’t exactly sound like a landslide.

To me it reads exactly like a fake false flag operation. And I never appreciate false news or outright lies being promulgated here. ]

He went on to argue a number of times that he thought the letter looked to him like a setup from National, with no evidence. The authenticity of the open letter hasn’t credibly been challenged anywhere, and media verified it as authentic.

This was the first of several warnings from lprent on posting information about the issue. He was trying to shut things down.

Attacks on messengers – in particular the media and Paula Bennett, and at The Standard on me continued as the story continued.

There was a lot of media commentary on the issue in the weekend. I posted on some of that on Sunday morning.

What followed looked like a planned and coordinated plan to shut me up. I don’t think all involved were working together, but that’s how it looks to me, and I have seen these executions often in the past.

Sacha and Anne immediately started to niggle at me (Anne is a long time Labour supporter, Sacha leans further left). Earlier in the week Anne had told me to eff off from responding to her comments, so ironic. She had called on moderators to deal to me more than once.

lprent started to give me lectures, like

Perhaps you and the idiot who wrote that quoted piece should engage your brain rather than your lust for gossip and consider what options gets killed if that kind of report gets released. For a start, just think of the consequences for victims.

Sometimes you are just an idiot.

And

[lprent: You must be blind. There have been comments all over the site for days. Unlike you, some of them have actually had suggestions about what should be done to prevent this kind of crap again.

I realise that you prefer to act as a brainless critic who carps and can’t offer any ideas. But perhaps you should try exercising your brain a bit.

But my toleration for outright lying by you and other is wearing very thin. If you can’t bring yourself to actually participate in debate about how to solve a problem – then leave. ]

I didn’t lie. Sacha and Anne had made things up about me, but they got a free pass – this is standard practice at The Standard. A few days ago marty mars had barely had his hand smacked for abusing others and making up accusations, something he haas a long record of doing.

Others joined in.

And at some time during the day, after moderator messages from lprent, weka and Incognito, I ended up being banned because I didn’t edit a quote up to their required standard – despite others in the same thread not complying.

It’s years since I’ve been banned there, but this looks like an attempt shut down discussion on the Labour staffer issue.

It serves as a not very subtle warning to others (some others have also been banned over the last week).

It’s not just the Labour Party hierarchy who seem intent on sweeping their bungling (and the victims of bullying and assaults) under the carpet.

 

Bradbury in court today contesting secret trial

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog: My trial against the NZ Police starts this month in Wellington – an invitation to NZ media

In 2014, the NZ Police secretly included me in their failed prosecution against Nicky Hager. Somehow, Cameron Slater managed to convince a friendly Police force that a shadowy conspiracy was involved in the hack against him that was the content for Hager’s ground breaking ‘Dirty Politics‘ book.

The Police illegally gained access to Hager’s bank records and illegally searched his house. At the time, I argued that the NZ Police could use their misuse of power to damage the credit ratings of activists they didn’t like, little did I appreciate how that would later encompass me.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal, the only court with the power to hold the Police to account, finally agreed to hearing my case two years after I started the process and 5 years after the Police had gotten away with it, but there was a shocking sting in the tail of that decision, the Police demanded to hold the trial in secret while using secret evidence against me to stop me from finding out why they were spying on me and who spied on me. 

In 2014, I was deeply involved with the MANA Party and talking to Kim Dotcom re his Internet Party. I was also leading the fight against the SIS and GCSB from obtaining mass surveillance powers. That there was surveillance on me and that the Police gained my banking records without any search warrant made me furious, but that the Police were now trying to hold the trial in secret simply shocked me beyond articulation.

Whatever you think of my politics, whether you vote National, Labour, NZ First, ACT or Green – we can all agree that to allow the Police to hold a secret trial using secret evidence in a court battle over their misuse of power is a precedent that simply must not be allowed to happen.

This legal battle is a unique one because the Police have never before been able to gain secret trails in a Human Rights Review case. On Wednesday 14th August, I am in Wellington with my lawyer Graeme Edgeler to argue against the State gaining the power to use secret trials.

Please note, we aren’t even at the stage where my case against the Police taking my bank records without a search warrant will actually be heard, we are debating the Police’s right to hold the trial in secret in the first place.

I appreciate that I’m deeply critical of many mainstream media journalists and that this legal battle to date has not been covered much outside of the NZ Herald or columns by  Chris Trotter and Oscar Kightley, but this legal case matters and it is unique.

If the NZ Police are able to create a precedence for secret trials using secret evidence, that impacts every single one of us as citizens in this democracy and so I invite all mainstream media to cover this exceptional trial on Wednesday 14th in Wellington. The only reason the Police are trying this on is because they don’t think anyone is paying attention.

My lawyer, Graeme Edgeler and I will be available for comment after the hearing.

The personal toll this has taken to get this case this far has been greater than I could have ever imagined, but if we individually refuse to stand against the abuse of power by the State, then we all collectively suffer.

Update – NZ Herald report on today’s hearing:  Fight over ‘secret evidence’ after police access bank records without warrant

In a Human Rights Review Tribunal hearing in Wellington this morning, lawyer for the police Vicki McCall said the tribunal must have “inherent power” to receive secret evidence.

The tribunal wouldn’t be able to determine whether means used to obtain the information were unfair or unreasonable without knowing what the circumstances of the case were, she said.

Police were “required” to withhold the information and without it they could not adequately defend themselves.

If the tribunal did not allow a closed hearing, police’s next move would be an application to strike out the case altogether.

“The claim should not, in fairness, be tried at all.”

The step could mark the first time the tribunal accepted secret evidence in a closed hearing against the objections of the person who had brought the prosecution.

Bradbury’s lawyer, Graeme Edgeler, said his client was in an “odd position”.

“Had police actually done a lawful search and found the information that had linked him to Rawshark and prosecuted him, he would be entitled to this information. The reason he’s not, is that he’s innocent,” he said.

“They’re not going to be wholly incapable of defending this claim if they can’t rely on this document.”

He said Bradbury being told what type of information police were planning to use would go some way to “assuage his concerns”.

“The blanket refusal to release this document – not explain what the document is, not explain the nature of the document – that is an interference with his privacy.”

Journalist Nicky Hager received an apology after police obtained 10 months of his banking records.

Hager wrote the book Dirty Politics based on information allegedly hacked by Rawshark.

Barrister Felix Geiringer, who acted for Hager in the Dirty Politics fallout, said it was a matter of law that procedures in hearings which were hidden from other parties were “extraordinary” and only to be used in “extremely limited circumstances, if ever”.

In Bradbury’s case, the Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has already ruled police “were not justified” asking for the banking record, and the case should have been put before a judicial officer.

Unsurprisingly the Human Rights Review Tribunal has reserved its decision, which means a decision will be made whenever they get around to it.

A decision made in favour of Matt Blomfield v Cameron Slater Hearings were held in October 2014 and February 2015, and the decision only came out on 12 March this year – see IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW TRIBUNAL [2019] NZHRRT 13

Bad journalism, bad blogging, bad case in Youth Court

A bad case in the Youth Court of two rapes, bad reporting, bad MP reactions, bad blogging and predictable blog comments rife with inaccuracies and misdirected blame.

Initial misleading report at Stuff: Teenage rapist ‘got off very lightly’ after admitting sex attacks on two girls

A teenager was spared jail for rape after a court heard he had a promising career as a sportsman ahead of him.

The now 18-year-old, who has previously represented New Zealand on the world stage, admitted charges of rape and sexual violation in the Auckland Youth Court.

But he will not be jailed after a judge took into account his “outstanding talent” when sentencing him for sex attacks on two teenage girls.

The teenager has automatic  and, aside from his record noting the Youth Court appearances, faces no punishment.

There was outrage on Twitter, only some of it justified.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Name suppression disgrace

He’s raped and assaulted two girls and he gets permanent name and not even a slap on the wrist – all because he is good at sports.

That is sickening.

I’m not saying he should go to prison. But to face no punishment at all is terrible, and no one should get name suppression for serious violent or sexual offending if they have been found guilty.

The victims must feel terrible that after what he did to them, he gets off totally. Not even community service, a fine, home detention etc. He gets zilch all because he is good at sports.

The Crown must appeal this travesty of a sentence.

Some of this is inaccurate because the Stuff report was inaccurate, but DPF has added his own inaccuracies. The offender got off very lightly, but did not get off totally.

Uninformed outrage ensued, including from a lawyer. other lawyers set the record straight…

GPT1

If you are going to rant and rave can you please get the law right. It was in the Youth Court. Suppression is the law. There was a time when you did analysis not talkback by blog.

…but as is common at Kiwiblog they were downticked for adding facts to the discussion.

Graeme Edgeler on Twitter also pointed out facts of the matter.

Stuff corrected their story: Teenage rapist ‘got off very lightly’ after admitting sex attacks on two girls

A teenager who has hopes of being a professional sportsman has failed in his bid to keep any record of his charges for rape and sexual violation from his record.

The teenager, who has previously represented New Zealand on the world stage, admitted the charges in the Auckland Youth Court.

The now 18-year-old has automatic name suppression and, aside from his record noting the Youth Court appearances, he faces no punishment.

An advocate for survivors of sexual abuse says the teenager has “got off very lightly”.

* CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the teenager had been spared jail after a court heard of his promising sport career. In fact, because the case was heard in the Youth Court a jail term was not a sentencing option available to the judge. We regret the error.

That has been pointed out on Kiwiblog but it hasn’t stopped the outrage raging.

Even an ex-Minister of Justice jumped on the bash-wagon (albeit reacting to first the Stuff report).

For anyone who wants to understand the court judgment accurately 2018-NZYC-490_New-Zealand-Police-v-OV.pdf [311 KB]

The BFD ‘nothing to do with Whaleoil’, except…

The BFD sold themselves as a new look to the old Whale Oil blog, but with the same authors and descriptions and promises of ‘moderation’ (effectively message control censorship). They even claim to be the same ‘fastest growing media site’ they same as they falsely claimed at Whale Oil.

But as legal pressures grow they are trying to claim that the new website is separate and nothing to do with Whale Oil.

A comment from All_on_Red at Kiwiblog yesterday:

‘ matter the Disqus list (note that the controlling login’s and associated passwords for the Disqus account is ‘property’
Sigh, I’m afraid I have to call it.
You’re an idiot.
Any blog can register with Discus to have Discus member sign in to use it.
WOBF doesn’t ‘own’ Discus members.
This has been explained to you multiple times but you still don’t seem to get it.
Now you are calling being banned a ‘criminal act’
Lol
Do you not understand TheBFD is a separate website and nothing to do with Whaleoil.
Are you retarded? It certainly looks so.

Resorting to personal abuse suggests they may be feeling some pressure. Making claims that conflict with what looks obvious won’t help their situation.

“TheBFD is a separate website and nothing to do with Whaleoil” – so why does whaleoil.net.nz have show this…

We have new home visit The BFD.

Don’t believe everything you read online, just login and enjoy.

..and link to The BFD?

Why does @Whaleoil @CamSlater on Twitter have http://www.thebfd.co.nz as it’s website and now solely consist of links to posts at The BFD?

Why does Cam Slater @whaleoil on Twitter have thebfd.co.nz as it’s website, and consists solely now as a promoter of TheBFD posts?

The last post at whaleoil.net.nz

Today it is a farewell to the site from the team and I and a grateful thank you to you all for being part of the Whaleoil community.

We are bigger now than just one man. We have a large community across the country and the site has constrained where we need to go to counter the increasingly shrill fake news that is delivered up by our mainstream media.

It is time to do something about that.

Join the new team and enjoy the new site where you will be able to enjoy the varied content along with features and functionality that a blog format could never deliver.

We have created a new home for our community. It is called The BFD.

  • It begins on the 1st of August.
  • It has a completely new look and feel.
  • All the same, writers you’ve enjoyed at Whaleoil will be on The BFD
  • Your existing subscriptions will be honoured at The BFDIn other words, just log in and continue as usual.

They claim a new team, but with “all the same writers you’ve enjoyed at Whaleoil”. This post was authored by SB/spanish bride/Juana Atkins, who appeared to be managing Whaleoil since October 2018, and is also prominent as an author at The BFD, with the same author description she used at WO.

When launched on 1 August The BFD content was all migrated from Whale Oil posts dating back to April 1 2019.

Whale Oil About states:

Most articles come from a centre-right political viewpoint, with constant analysis and commentary of political events. Whaleoil also breaks its own news, is a media commentator and provides other topics of interest and entertainment to its readers.

Whaleoil is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand. Its brand of news, opinion, analysis and entertainment is finding fertile ground with an audience that is feeling abandoned by traditional news media.

Whaleoil wears its opinions on its sleeve, allowing readers to be informed and entertained even though they may not even share the same position. Whaleoil allows comments from its readers, so any mistakes or excesses are quickly curbed.

Because of this, Whaleoil is also a community (The Ground Crew), with a vast network of people from all parts of the spectrum contributing and assisting in the effort.

If you are new to Whaleoil, we ask you to pop in once a day for a week and see if it suits you.

The BFD About states:

Most articles on the BFD come from a centre-right political viewpoint, with constant analysis and commentary of political events. The BFD also breaks its own news, is a media commentator and provides other topics of interest and entertainment to its readers.

The BFD is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand. Its brand of news, opinion, analysis and entertainment is finding fertile ground with an audience that is feeling abandoned by traditional news media.

The BFD wears its opinions on its sleeve, allowing readers to be informed and entertained even though they may not even share the same position. The BFD allows comments from its readers, so any mistakes or excesses are quickly curbed.

Because of this, The BFD is also a community, with a vast network of people from all parts of the spectrum contributing and assisting in the effort.

If you are new to The BFD, we ask you to pop in once a day for a week and see if it suits you.

The only difference is the name.

I suspect that retarded idiots may be able to see some sort of a connection with all of this.

They have even replicated “The BFD is the fastest-growing media organisation” – this was a dated claim at Whale Oil, which has been waning since Dirty Politics lifted a scab in 2014, and Slater and WO was suddenly seen and treated as toxic by politicians and media who had helped WO grow. It is nonsense to transfer this same claim to The BFD.

The BFD allows comments from its readers, so any mistakes or excesses are quickly curbed” is another misleading claim. WO was notorious for censoring and banning comments that challenged or contradicted false claims in posts.

The day before The BFD was launched this was posted by ‘Nige’ at WO: A Message from a Mod

As we approach a new political cycle with the imminent appointment of a new National party leader and as we get closer to the election at the end of next year, I would like to make it clear that the Moderation team have certain expectations.

We expect our commenters to get back to basics as we want to run a tight ship. We will be paying close attention to the comment sections on serious “authored” posts.

The comment sections help commenters to express their frustration with the New Zealand mainstream media as well as the rubbish that is being dished out and sold to us literally as news via online publications and the dead tree media, which somehow still manages to exist despite plummeting readerships and sales.

They do irony well.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce on behalf of the moderation team that we will be buckling down and taking more of a quality over quantity approach for the next few weeks on serious posts.

I hope that those of you who are part of our community will be responsible for your actions and will not cry victim but will learn from your mistakes. This post is the warning shot over the bow.

Our deleted bin is going to overflow in the next few weeks as we ruthlessly cull unsuitable or unacceptable comments.

There will be no warnings, comments will simply be deleted.

Commenters seem to be used to support and add weight to posts no matter how ridiculous or extreme they are, with alternate views and corrections censored out.

That seems to be how Whale Oil operated, at times at least, so even that hasn’t changed.

In addition, the domain registration of both whaleoil.net.nz and whaleoil.org.nz lists ‘Andrea Parkes’ (email @whaleoil.org.nz) as Technical Contact.

The domain registration for thebfd.co.nz lists exactly the same person and contact details (including email @whaleoil.org.nz)

But All_On_Red claaims “TheBFD is a separate website and nothing to do with Whaleoil.” Who are they trying to kid? Possibly lawyers and courts. But lawyers and judges tend to not be idiots or retarded.

They are trying to be different things to different audiences – they promoted themselves as largely the same Whale Oil with a new name and website, they had to do that to move their audience across from the old Whale Oil to the revamped The BFD.

But this looks like it could cause them problems with the liquidator of the company that ran Whale Oil and the Official Assignee dealing with Slater’s bankruptcy, and legal problems with possible asset stripping and not coperating with their liquidator.

Claiming The BFD has nothing to do with Whale Oil has hints of desperation from people who have dug themselves into a hole.

One down, more Whale Oil sites targeted

Yesterday Matt Blomfield took control of the whaleoil.co.nz website after purchasing it from liquidators. he has it redirecting to his own site which has a postscript to the Margie Thomson book Whale Oil. It concludes:

This site — whaleoil.co.nz — now serves as a perpetual memorial to the injustices inflicted on all those people, and to Matt’s long battle to curtail falsity, bullying and manipulation.

That is a very fine ending.

It is a fine ending to the original Whale Oil blog site, which became too nasty and too toxic, with Cameron Slater and those who supplied, aided and abetted him abusing the power of media while they could get away with it.

But the website had moved onto other sites.

Some of the recent events are traceable within the records of the Companies Register. There, the dry accumulation of company names, name changes, changes in shareholdings and directorships whispers of the sheer human drama and desperate planning that has gone on behind the scenes as Slater and his supporters seemed to do everything they could think of to rescue something from their sinking ship. Social Media Consultants, then-owner of the whaleoil blog, went into liquidation. A new company, Madas 114, was set up and then shortly after became WOBH; whaleoil.co.nz became whaleoil.net.nz before morphing, chameleon-like, into a completely new blogsite. Slater passed all his shareholdings and directorships to his wife, to his accountant, and then back to his wife.

The liquidator quickly took issue with what she identified as the illegal transfer of assets away from creditors and into new entities.

In short, the estimated claims against Slater and his company so far total more than $4.7 million.

‘Fill your boots,’ Slater said a few years ago. ‘When you’ve got nothing to lose, you’re dangerous.’

His problem now is that Blomfield has nothing to lose by finishing his goal of shutting down Whale Oil – all of it.

Blomfield’s lawyer, Felix Geiringer, tweeted yesterday afternoon:

Actually an attempt has been made to distance ownership of whaleoil.net.nz and thebfd.co.nz away from Slater and his wife Juana Atkins.

One is  registered to Regan Cunliffe, a long time associate of Slater (a few years ago they had jointly planned to set up some great new media site but I think funding fell through).

The other is registered to Andrea Parkes (who provides a whaleoil.org.nz contact email address).

Blomfield has proven he has determination and tenacity. He has a very capable lawyer who also seems to have determination to see this through. And they have widespread popular support to bury a dead horse.

Slater may feel he has little more to lose, and Atkins may also be similar.

But I wonder how willing Cunliffe and Parkes may be to be dragged into the legal mire.

And for what? Trying to give life support to a toxic, failed brand? And potentially being parties to attempts to misappropriate assets in a bankruptcy and in a liquidation?


Actually, Atkins may have quite a bit to lose.

Juana Atkins did not reply to the liquidator; neither did she comply with demands to relinquish control of the assets. On August 5, the liquidator who, remember, is an officer of the Court, wrote to the police for assistance, citing six sections of the Crimes Act she believed Atkins may have breached. The police replied briefly, telling Toon she should take her complaint to the front desk of her nearest police station.

Things may be yet to catch up on her.

That same day, a link to a nasty website was circulated, devoted to taunting the liquidator in the most horrible ways.

That is dumb – and I know someone who is trying to do this. They have been a significant contributor to attacks against Blomfield and to the the downfall of Slater. And they seem intent on continuing in their destructive behaviour. That may well catch up on them too.

The new look Whale Oil – as it should be

A new look to whaleoil.co.nz

A well deserved response. It’s worth reading all of Chapter 27, but here’s the final say:


Since the publication of Whale Oil, the book, there’s no question Matt’s life has changed. He is now generally perceived for who he is, and no longer for what Slater’s blog said he was, and he reaps the benefits of that every day, every time he gets a new client, every time someone reads the book and sends him a friendly message. And yet the exercise of holding Slater to account was, he says, a kamikaze effort. Winning against Slater in the High Court, finding justice for himself, was a massive victory but whether he can claw his way back to financial stability and to a sense of peacefulness for his family remains an open question.

I know he’s doing it tough. I probably know it better than anyone outside his family, after my four years of almost daily contact with this indefatiguable man; yet I can’t believe he won’t do what he always does: tough it out, battle through, do something audacious that will — somehow — save the day.

And so we arrive back at this masterstroke – this takeover of the whaleoil blogsite. What’s in it for Matt? Why would he bother? The toxic stuff once written up here about him is long gone, thanks to Matt’s efforts through the courts. The whaleoil site itself is worth nothing now, but it’s also worth everything.

All those other people, the ones who like Matt were slandered, bullied and humiliated on that blog over all those years — the horrible stories about them are still out there, recurrent reminders of vicious attacks. People like the woman I interviewed who was still too shaky to tell me what had happened but who simply googled herself and silently showed me the result on her phone; people like Scott Poynting, who knows that anyone googling him runs immediately into the whaleoil accusations against him. There are many, many such people.

All of that will — after Matt’s won the required court orders — be gone. Because the internet never goes away they will never be completely destroyed, but they will be gone from casual searches.

All the nasty stories, the lies and the taunts, will be pulled down.

This site — whaleoil.co.nz — now serves as a perpetual memorial to the injustices inflicted on all those people, and to Matt’s long battle to curtail falsity, bullying and manipulation.

That is a very fine ending.

Click here to get a copy of Whale Oil by margie thomson

Liquidator message on Whale Oil

Posted on the Whale Oil website tonight:


CRL Logo

It is the liquidator’s opinion that the director of Social Media Consultants Limited, Juana Atkins or someone directed by her has illegally used the customer database for the benefit of another business entity.

This appears on the face of it to have been done for the purpose of misappropriating the company’s goodwill and causing the company loss, therefore breaching the duties as a director to preserve the assets of the company for the benefit of creditors.

The Whale Oil blog and everything associated to the blog remains the property of Social Media Consultants Limited (in liquidation).

If you have any questions please contact info@restructuring.co.nz

 

 

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:

 

“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.