Royal Commission into Christchurch mosque attacks begins this week

A second commissioner has been appointed and the Royal Commission into the Christchurch Mosque attacks on 15 March will begin this week.


Terror attack Royal Commission begins work

The Royal Commission into the March 15 terror attack will begin considering evidence next week following the appointment of the second and final commissioner.

Former diplomat Jacqui Caine, the former New Zealand Ambassador to Chile and most recently Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Director of Special Projects in Christchurch, will join the Commission Chair Sir William Young.

“The Government is confident that the Royal Commission now has the right people in place to carry out the important task of fully understanding what happened in the lead up to the March 15 terror attack, what could have been done to stop it and how we can keep New Zealanders safe,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

The Commission has already been established, is scheduled to begin considering evidence from Monday and is due to report by 10 December 2019.

Ms Caine has resigned from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to take up the role.

“This is a critical part of our ongoing response to the attack. The Commission’s findings will help to ensure such an attack never happens here again,” Jacinda Ardern said.


Details on the Royal Commission into the attack on the Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019

Background

1. On 15 March 2019 fifty people were killed and over fifty others injured, some seriously, when an individual attacked the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch while worshippers were at prayer.  An individual has been charged with offences in relation to the attack and awaits trial.

2. The Government has announced a Royal Commission will be appointed to inquire into what relevant state sector agencies knew about the individual’s activities before the attack, what, if anything, they did with that information, what measures agencies could have taken to prevent this attack, and what measures agencies should take to prevent such attacks in the future.

3. The Inquiry needs to report on these matters urgently, so Government has an independent and authoritative report on these matters to reassure the New Zealand public, including its Muslim communities, that all appropriate measures are being taken by state sector agencies to ensure their safety and protection.

4. Government expects the Inquiry to connect with New Zealand’s Muslim communities on these matters.

5. Government has received assurances and expects that all relevant state sector agencies, officers and employees will do their utmost to cooperate with the Inquiry given the importance of the issues it is charged with examining and reporting on.

Purpose and matter of public importance

6. The matter of public importance which the Inquiry is directed to examine is

  • what relevant state sector agencies knew about the activities of the individual who has been charged with offences in relation to the 15 March 2019 attack on the Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, before that attack;
  • what actions (if any) they took in light of that knowledge;
  • whether there were any additional measures that the agencies could have taken to prevent the attack, and
  • what additional measures should be taken by relevant state sector agencies to prevent such attacks in future.

Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019, as approved by Cabinet on 8 April 2019:

An attempt to address Māori reoffending rates launched

The biggest problem with Māori imprisonment levels is that too many Māori get involved in crime in the first place.

People identifying as Māori make up about 15% of the new Zealand population, but just over half of those in prison are Māori.

Ethnicity of Prisoners (March 2019)

However it is very difficult to deal with problems before they manifest themselves as criminal activities.  High recidivism rates are also a major problem.

Corrections: Re-imprisonment rates by ethnicity

The re-imprisonment rate over 48 months for Maori offenders (55%) is considerably higher than the rate for both NZ Europeans (45%) and Pacific offenders (36%).

graph-6

Overall recidivism rates are bad, but especially so for Māori

So the Government are trying to break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment with a new plan. It will take time to tell how effective it will be, but different ways of addressing the problem have to be tried to try and turn things around.

Announced yesterday:


A whānau-centred pathway to break the cycle of Māori reoffending

The Government has today announced it is taking action on the long-term challenge of Māori reoffending rates and delivering on its target to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent, with the creation of a new Māori Pathway at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison and Northland Region Corrections Facility.

This initiative will be co-designed and implemented by Māori, with Corrections, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) working together in partnership with hapū and iwi. It will initially focus on Māori men under 30 years of age, as this group has the highest reconviction and reimprisonment rates. The Pathway will enable people to experience a kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred approach for all of their time with Corrections, from pre-sentence to reintegration and transition in their community.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says the $98 million Wellbeing Budget investment is a major first step in changing the way Corrections operates to help break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment.

“We are acknowledging that our system does not work for the majority of Māori. The answer is not another programme. This is a new pathway for people in prison and their whānau to walk together. This is a system change and a culture change for our prisons – and that change starts today,” Kelvin Davis said.

“The Māori Pathway delivers on a number of our Government’s priorities. It’s about reducing reoffending so there are fewer victims of crime, building closer partnerships with Māori, and enabling us to keep delivering on our target to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent.

“This is a great example of the Wellbeing approach in action, with a number of agencies working together to target long-term change.”

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare acknowledges his colleagues Kelvin Davis and Carmel Sepuloni for being bold and taking a whānau-centred approach to their mahi.

“This is real progress towards incorporating Whānau Ora into their portfolios and agencies, extending Government support and buy-in to the Whānau Ora approach, as recommended by Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao,” Peeni Henare said.

“Whānau Ora successfully supports positive outcomes for whānau because it recognises the power of the collective and promotes self-determination. It is a holistic and strengths-based approach, allowing whānau to define and work towards their own aspirations. This is an important step for Government to improve whānau wellbeing.”

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says MSD is committed to supporting the person and their whānau to achieve their goals.

“This is an exciting initiative which aligns with recommendations in the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s report to improve outcomes for Māori and enhance support for people in prisons,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Media agreement on coverage of Tarrant trial

David posted this comment:

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/05/01/self-censorship-media-new-zealand-white-supremacist-2019-226766

Kiwiblog also covers this. Its an outrage that the press has self censored itself as a collective with the government complicit.

“The Kiwi editors don’t appear to trust their readers and viewers to handle the difficult and disturbing material that’s sure to billow out of the Tarrant trial. They regard New Zealanders as children who must be sheltered from the heinous and despicable lest they become tainted with its influence.”

Its worth reading the story from an outsiders point and shines a light on the paternalistic overview that our “betters” in the media exhibit. I would like to see full coverage without sensationalizing the bits that irresponsible media usually do, I want the different perspectives of a varied and uncensored free press usually give. And its appalling that the government and the press think that if we hear what this loon says we will see it as a call to arms. Bloody ridiculous.


Here are the “agreed editorial guidelines” – Reporting the Trial of Brenton Tarrant

MEDIA STATEMENT – NZ MEDIA FREEDOM COMMITTEE
REPORTING THE TRIAL OF BRENTON TARRANT
[1 May 2019]

Senior editors of the major accredited news media companies in New Zealand (TVNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, NZME and RNZ) have committed to a united approach in reporting the trial of Brenton Tarrant following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March, 2019. The group of editors, representing the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee, has agreed a set of protocols to ensure that the outlets they represent cover the upcoming trial comprehensively and responsibly.

A group statement and a copy of the agreed editorial guidelines is attached for your information.

Requests for further information or comment should be directed to the respective media organisations.

MEDIA STATEMENT – NZ MEDIA FREEDOM COMMITTEE

REPORTING THE TRIAL OF BRENTON TARRANT 

We are the senior editors representing the major accredited news media companies in New Zealand (TVNZ, Stuff, Mediaworks, NZME and RNZ).

As a group and as individual editors we are committed to ensuring the outlets we represent cover the upcoming trial of Brenton Tarrant comprehensively and responsibly.

We have agreed to abide by these guidelines throughout the trial.

BACKGROUND 
Brenton Harrison Tarrant is charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 charges of attempted murder relating to shootings carried out at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, 15 March, 2019.

Victims of the terror attack include citizens of twelve different countries.

We represent accredited New Zealand media organisations that plan to attend the trial and associated proceedings for the purposes of reportage.

As editors we are mindful of the public interest in the trial, in New Zealand and internationally.

We are also mindful of our role as the “eyes and ears of the public” in the context of court reporting. In this instance, we acknowledge the particular importance of this function, given the many victims’ friends and families outside New Zealand who may otherwise be unable to engage in the trial process.

We are aware that the accused may attempt to use the trial as a platform to amplify white supremacist and/or terrorist views or ideology.

GUIDELINES
We agree that the following Protocol will apply to our outlets’ coverage and reportage of the trial:

(a) We shall, to the extent that is compatible with the principles of open justice, limit any coverage of statements, that actively champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology.
(b) For the avoidance of doubt the commitment set out at (a) shall include the accused’s manifesto document “The Great Replacement”.
(c) We will not broadcast or report on any message, imagery, symbols or signals (including hand signals) made by the accused or his associates promoting or supporting white supremacist ideology.
(d) Where the inclusion of such signals in any images is unavoidable, the relevant parts of the image shall be pixellated.
(e) To the greatest extent possible, the journalists that are selected by each of the outlets to cover the trial will be experienced personnel.
(f) These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.
(g) This Protocol shall continue in force indefinitely.

SIGNED:
Miriyana Alexander (NZME and chair of the Media Freedom Committee)
John Gillespie (TVNZ)
Shayne Currie (NZME)
Mark Stevens (Stuff)
Paul Thompson (RNZ)
Hal Crawford (Mediaworks)


This is an unusual approach for what is an extraordinary situation.

Media always make judgements about what court cases they will report on and what they will report. What is different here is agreement between all the major media organisations.

Thins could change if circumstances change – “These guidelines may be varied at any time, subject to a variation signed by all parties.”

Explosive device and ammunition found in Christchurch

A ‘top secret list’ of people being monitored by the police

This should be no surprise – Stuff reports that the police have a ‘top secret list’ (as it should be) of people they are monitoring, including “white supremacists, Muslim converts and people left disgruntled by the Christchurch terror attack” and “disaffected” people with firearm licences, and others with racist and radical views.

As long as there are genuine concerns about these people and the police are operating legally this should be a reassuring thing?

Stuff – Christchurch terror attack: More than 100 people being monitored by police

More than 100 people – including white supremacists, Muslim converts and people left disgruntled by the Christchurch terror attack – are being actively monitored by police.

Stuff has obtained part of a top secret list that names those who are of concern to police following the March 15 terror attack. Stuff has chosen not to name anyone on the list or contact them for security reasons.

It should be a given that Stuff doesn’t name anyone on the list, it would be highly reckless and inappropriate to do so.  Stuff seems have made a habit of praising themselves for doing what is expected (and required) of media.

The list, which is understood to have included more than 100 people, includes “disaffected” people with firearm licences, and others with racist and radical views. Police appear to be placing a large focus on social media, with one person making it onto the list for posting “concerning information”, including how to make their own live feed on social media.

Police deputy commissioner Mike Clement…

…told Stuff the operation was designed to reassure New Zealanders.

This includes raising awareness through increased visibility on the streets, and visits to thousands of schools, religious places, businesses and community centres.

“While the number of reports has increased since the Christchurch attack, fundamental to being safe and feeling safe is the willingness of people to report behaviours that concern them.

“As a result of the help of the community [we have] spoken with many individuals across New Zealand and in a few instances interventions including arrests have been undertaken.”

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price…

…also declined to comment on the list’s existence, but confirmed there was a group of people whose actions and behaviour had concerned police. He said the intelligence phase of the operation was focused on trying to understand other people who are of interest in the community.

“There may be some concerns around their ideologies, or the fact they may have access to illegal firearms, so that’s a large part of that, determining and then acting on that information”.

I think that if the police are aware of illegal firearms and access to them then they should be acting on that, not just monitoring them.

“A lot of it is generated through people telling us, looking through social media and other information streams that come into the mix. You scan your information sources, you then analyse those information sources and get to a point you can assess the risk of the threat level.”

“If we consider that people may have access to illegal firearms that would raise a concern, it may be that the people are expressing views that we may think is not aligned with our way as New Zealanders”.

“If we think there’s an inherent risk through that intel we will act on it depending on how considered the threat is to the community as a whole.”

Not surprisingly, there is nothing much new about this apart from increased efforts after the mosque killings.

The intelligence model was nothing new, with police regularly using it for other areas of heightened focus to establish more informed information, including family harm, burglaries, volume crime and organised crime.

Clement asked that people remained “vigilant”.

“Be aware of your surroundings and if you see something that doesn’t look right or is suspicious, report it to police. We would sooner investigate those concerns in a preventative way even if those concerns were unfounded.”

If any of your saw things said of concern online would you report it to the police?


More from Gezza:

A Wellington convert who describes himself as “probably the most radical Muslim” in the city says he is happy to co-operate with police and understands their concern.

The man, in his 30s, said he was probably on a top secret list, obtained by Stuff, that names some of more than 100 people police are monitoring since the March 15 attack.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/112302738/radical-muslim-convert-happy-for-police-to-do-due-diligence

Arps pleaded guilty to distributing footage of mosque attacks

Christchurch man Philip Neville Arps has pleaded guilty of distributing video of the Christchurch mosque attacks. He told police that modified coverage (with cross hairs and a kill count added) was ‘awesome’.

That sounds despicable, but does it justify a prison sentence? He was remanded in custody when arrested, and seems likely to get a custodial sentence.

Stuff: Philip Arps guilty of sharing livestream of Christchurch mosque massacre

A Christchurch business owner who admitted sharing the Christchurch terror attack livestream told police he thought it was “awesome”.

Philip Neville Arps pleaded guilty on Friday to two charges of distributing the mosque murders video and was remanded in custody for sentencing on June 14.

When questioned by police about the massacre –  in which 50 people were murdered and 39 more shot and wounded – he replied: “I could not give a f…, mate.”

So maybe I shouldn’t give a fuck if he is imprisoned.

Arps asked for Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll to have him assessed for a possible home detention sentence, but the judge ruled it out, indicating Arps would be jailed.

His lack of empathy doesn’t help his case. His sentence is likely to be affected by whether he shows any remorse or not.

I see some need for deterrent sentences  – this seems well up the seriousness scale. If a strong signal needs to be sent he seems a good candidate for copping a jail term.

He is one of 10 people police have taken action against for objectionable publication offences relating to the video of the Christchurch terror attack, including a 16-year-old male.

I presume (hope) these are the worst examples that have involved more than just downloading or viewing the video.

Alleged offences far more serious than downloading massacre footage

It isn’t surprising to see that one of the people charged with downloading footage of the Christchurch massacres is alleged to have committed more serious offences than just that.

Stuff: Teen on footage charge allegedly planned mass shooting at school

A high school student who allegedly downloaded footage of the Christchurch massacre also allegedly discussed plans of how best to conduct a mass shooting at his school with fellow students.

The 17-year-old appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Tuesday afternoon on a charge of possession of objectionable material, where he was granted interim name suppression.

The charge against the teenager reads that on April 8 at a location in the Waikato he, “without lawful authority or excuse, had in his possession an objectionable publication, namely camera footage of the Christchurch mosque shootings, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the publication is objectionable”.

The portion of the police summary that can be reported reveals that police allege they were called to the boy’s high school by the principal on Monday, after he was found to be in possession of a USB stick containing footage of the mass killings in Christchurch on March 15.

According to the police summary, he had allegedly been talking to other students about how easy it would be for a mass killing to take place at the school.

His alleged plan involved activating a fire alarm, which would prompt the students and staff to evacuate and congregate on the school fields, where they would be an easy target for a shooter.

The portions of the summary Bourke divulged in court also revealed the teenager had allegedly searched for footage of the Christchurch shooting using the Google search engine. However Google prevented this, so it is claimed he found “alternative ways” of accessing several files of the footage.

He allegedly showed the footage to other male students and the USB stick was passed around, however the teenager did not know whether any of those other students had made copies of the files.

So based on this there seems to be good cause for the police to have arrested and charged him.

Thousands of people will have accessed the video and the manifesto, and most of them won’t be investigated or charged. Only those who appear to pose more serious risks will (or should) attract the attention of the police.

Police re-investigating home invasion assault after complaint by Blomfield

Police are re-investigating a 2014 home invasion in which Matthew Blomfield was seriously assaulted, including being shot at in front of his family. The assailant was caught through  a DNA match, convicted and imprisoned, but the motive was never disclosed. Blomfield has complained to the police that others may have been involved, but until recently they have not done much to investigate.

This is detailed in David Fisher’s latest Big Read:  The blogger and the businessman – how the police failed, and new inquiries into a vicious home invasion

I’m familiar with a lot of the history covered in this. I have posted here about the attacks against Blomfield on Whale Oil, the long defamation case that resulted in Cameron Slater being found in October 2018 by a judge to have no defence (Slater recently withdrew an appeal), the illegal use of private data when a hard drive was supplied to Blomfield, and a number of other related things.

I have also posted about the assault on Blomfield. What is new are the claims of police inaction in investigating, and the current re-investigating.

Remember how quickly the police investigated Nicky Hager after a complaint by Slater that he had been hacked? The police overstepped in their raid on Hager’s home and obtaining bank information, for which they have since apologised for and paid compensation.

Remember how the police investigated and prosecuted Ben Rachinger after a complaint by Slater? And how, when Slater was prosecuted for trying procure a hack of The Standard, the police gave him diversion after Slater accepted guilt (but soon after posted that his contrition was not genuine).

Blomfield seems to have had a lot more difficulty getting the police to investigate for him, on complicity in the assault, and in how Slater got thehard drive. This has ended up resulting in a complaint to Independent Police Conduct Authority, and the re-opening of an investigation.

Blomfield’s complaints to police began in April 2012 when he told police Slater had obtained a hard drive with his personal and business information. Slater used the material as the basis of a series of blog posts over the next six months which led to the seven-year defamation action.

Blomfield’s interaction with police over the next four years included complaints about the hard drive, being interviewed as the victim of a home invasion which took place in April 2014 and a further complaint after his computer was hacked – possibly on more than one occasion.

Blomfield complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority over police handling of complaints, leading to a review of police files identified areas that “warrant further police investigation”.

Detective Inspector Hayden Mander followed with a letter in December 2017 in which he said there had been multiple failures by police investigating a range of complaints.

On the hard drive:

He said there was “little comprehension” the first complaint about the hard drive could be seen as a possible crime involving the use of the data.

“Having reviewed the file, I believe there was a failure from the outset in comprehending the complexity of this investigation; in that it might be something other than a theft or burglary.

“Once computer crime was considered, there are gaps in the investigation and there was a lack of comprehensive assessment of the criminal culpability of the persons of interest that were identified during the inquiry.”

Mander, who has since left the police, said a specific complaint of “computer crime” had been made by Blomfield at the time. He said there was no evidence it had been investigated and no victim statement had been taken.

He said there needed to be a new investigation into the use of the hard drive and whether it was a “computer crime”.

There is an irony over Slater using the hard drive data to post a series of attacks on Blomfield on Whale Oil – Slater has long claimed bitterly about being hacked and data obtained being used to discredit him.

Mander also said police had not properly investigated a complaint by Blomfield made in 2014 after emails of his post-dating the hard drive were published online. The emails were from a password-protected cloud service, leading Blomfield to complain his information had been hacked.

On the assault:

Mander’s letter said there were further failures by police, including around a terrifying assault on Blomfield at his Greenhithe home in April 2014.

The incident saw Ned Tehuru Paraha, now 41, enter the home where Blomfield and his family live, face covered with a Spiderman mask and carrying a shotgun.

During the assault which followed, Paraha fired a shotgun at Blomfield on at least two occasions. One of Blomfield’s young daughters hid inside while the other saw her father – and for a period, her mother – fight back against the invader until he was forced to flee.

Blomfield was left seriously injured as a result of the assault, and has since testified as to the lasting damage the attack had on his and his family’s feeling of safety and security in their own home.

Paraha was caught a month later and pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to injure, aggravated burglary and assault with intent to injure. He was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison.

Mander said the “front end” of the investigation – Paraha’s identification through DNA and conviction – was carried out properly.

No reason or motive was disclosed.

“However, it was acknowledged from those conducting the police investigation and from yourself that others were likely responsible for the planning of this offending.

“To date, no-one else has been held to account for this offending.

“Despite you advising police of your suspicions that specific people were involved in the planning of this offending, these avenues of inquiry have never been followed up. Further, you have provided police with other lines of inquiry that remain on the file but have not been completed.”

Mander said there was a “clear need” to investigate parts of the incident.

He states that the police did obtain phone records that at least indicated others had prior knowledge of the home invasion, but didn’t act on this information.

In the recording, Mander said a production order had been used during the earlier investigation to access an individual’s phone records.

He told Blomfield police “didn’t really do a very good job of examining the data it produced”.

Mander said he had examined the phone traffic and seen contact the days before, the day of and the day after the assault which needed further investigation.

Blomfield claims that Slater knew about the attack and thinks the police should have south information from him (he doesn’t allege that Slater was directly involved).

Blomfield said he believed there was reason for police to speak with Slater in relation to the attack and had previously provided information which should have been acted on.

He said a comment made by Slater in the High Court precinct at Auckland, prior to a June 2016 judicial settlement conference, suggested Slater had knowledge as to where Paraha had obtained the shotgun used in the attack.

Blomfield said it was confirmation Slater had received information about the attack and the email was passed to police. He received a response saying: “Your email is noted and has been added to the file.”

A file that seems to have had more cobwebs than police attention.

Blomfield said he since received information anonymously from someone describing themselves as the hacker Rawshark, the identity used by the person who hacked Slater’s computer in 2014 then passed the contents to journalist Nicky Hager. The hacked material was used as the basis for the book Dirty Politics.

He said the information provided to him – which matches information supplied to and printed by the Herald in 2014 – gave him cause for concern over Slater’s attitude towards him.

The Rawshark files included social media correspondence between Slater and contacts developed through the blog. Some of the content from late 2013 reflected the defamation action was placing Slater under increased pressure.

In other messages in November 2013, Slater told the contact he believed gang members were looking for Blomfield in relation to money owed on behalf of a family member. It is unknown if there was any basis for this belief.

In the message, Slater says: “they are now looking for him … I know where he is and where he works if they want to find him … name is Matthew Blomfield”.

In another message, previously unreported, Slater tells the same contact: “Can you find out who wants to bash blomfield … I can help them find him.”

Slater has testified since he embellished claims made in conversations obtained by Rawshark. There is no evidence in the Rawshark material Slater’s conversation turned into actions in the real world.

The month after the messages, on December 14 2013, Slater posted to his blog a copy of a district court decision from the defamation case which included a cover letter with Blomfield’s home address.

In a blog post which has since been deleted, the blog’s administrator wrote: “I wouldn’t want to be Mr Blomfield for the next 10 years. The other side of Karma is coming.”

It seems that Karma has been catching up on Slater, with a series of losses in defamation proceedings, bankruptcy and a stroke (a common cause being stress).

Blomfield has said he believed the attack was somehow connected to the Whaleoil blog posts, although is definite in saying there is no evidence directly linking it to Slater.

On the Whaleoil blog, Slater has rejected any connection between his website and the attack. In a post, since deleted, he pointed to Paraha’s gang connections and said he doubted any of his readers mixed in such circles.

It was claimed in a comment here on Your NZ last October that gang members were present outside the court on the day of a hearing  on the Blomfield v Slater defamation. A name other than Slater’s (but in his circle) was associated with this.

Blomfield told the Herald there were lines of inquiry police should have pursue in relation to most complaints, yet did not.

He said the home invasion in 2014, during which he was shot at least two times, was never properly investigated.

“Someone sent this guy to do this.” Blomfield said the delay in the investigation meant evidence would have decayed. “It now seems that (information) is going to be lost.”

He said there was no sensible reason for a Tribesman-affiliated gang member from Manukau, to whom he had no links or connection, to come to his Greenhithe home firing a loaded shotgun.

“It would be totally reasonable to ask the Police why it is taking so long and when that investigation will be completed.”

But Blomfield and his lawyer claims that the police have continued to do little to investigate.

Barrister Felix Geiringer, who was Blomfield’s lawyer in the defamation case, said the lack of action by police was shocking yet even more so given the police review appeared to show an officer had acted in a way which prevented a proper investigation taking place.

He said the home invasion offending was criminal behaviour at the most serious end of the scale and it was “terrifying” police could “so easily decide not to take basic investigative steps”.

Geiringer said there was a clear lack of urgency which included delays with the fresh investigation.

“Six months after informing Matt that they had never properly investigated the attempt on his life, a newly appointed investigator informed Matt that he had not yet read the file.

“Over 18 months later, and the Police have still not decided what further action, if any, they intend to take.

“Matt and his family have never felt safe since the attack. They don’t feel that the New Zealand police have any interest in protecting them. Who could blame them?”

I for one can’t blame them. I was dragged into this long running feud and attacks via blog posts and the courts.

I have had what could be construed as implied death threats. I have had my address and photo of my home posted on a website that ran a series of attacks on me, and incorrectly linked me with Blomfield. I believe that people in Slater’s circle of associates were involved (they and Slater were definitely involved in vexatious legal actions against me).

Emails on the court file show the meeting, with former business associates of Blomfield, saw discussion focused on targeting Blomfield in a scheme called “Operation Bumslide”.

In the chain of emails between the conspirators, there was a joke about Blomfield being raped and one in which an associate of Slater’s made disparaging sexual remarks about Blomfield’s wife.

So far Slater has borne the brunt of Blomfield’s fight back via the defamation, and he is the only one named in Fisher’s article.

The impression I get from this latest ‘big read’ from Fisher is that Slater may be able to help the police with their inquiries, if they ever make proper inquiries. Perhaps ‘an associate of Slater’s’ (or more) could also warrant some investigation. So far they have managed to leave Slater to cop most of the fallout. It looks to me like Slater may have been used as a ‘useful idiot’ in what started as a business feud against Blomfield.

Things can hardly get much worse for Slater, but others who have so far escaped being held to account may find things getting awkward for them if the police start doing their job properly.

Justice Minister says hate speech laws ‘very narrow’ with gaps

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has said that New Zealand hate speech laws are too narrow and there were gaps in the law, but also said that any changes needed to be robustly debated.

RNZ:  Current hate speech law ‘very narrow’ – Justice Minister Andrew Little

Justice Minister Andrew Little says gaps exist in current laws around hate speech and what should be considered an offence.

Mr Little announced on Saturday that he was fast-tracking the review, which could see hate crimes made a new legal offence.

Mr Little told Morning Report today the current law specific to hate speech offences was “very narrow”.

“It applies to inciting racial disharmony, it doesn’t relate to expressions that incite discrimination on religious grounds or identity or a range of other grounds.”

“If you look at the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which is the other law we have dealing with what we might describe as hate speech, it’s very thorough but the question is whether the processes that are available under that legislation are as accessible and as good as they might be, so there’s grounds to review both those areas,” he said.

On who is covered under current law, Mr Little said: “If your hateful expressions and hateful actions are directed at somebody’s religion, or other prohibited grounds of discrimination other than race then actually it doesn’t cover that, there’s no offence at that point.”

He said you could potentially lay a complaint for mediation with the Human Rights Commission, but that the most gross type of expression seen around the Christchurch terror attacks wouldn’t be covered by it and that looked like there was a gap in the law.

He said the review would make clear whether the law does fit. He’s not convinced it does, but said he’ll leave it up to the experts doing the review.

Mr Little said the issue about where the line was drawn was the most difficult part of any law that constrains expression and speech.

“The reality is we know that there are forms of expression on social media and elsewhere that you can see at face value are totally unacceptable and not worthy of defence but then there are opinions and views that we might disagree with or might even find offensive but are legitimate contributions to debate.”

Mr Little said any change to the law would need to be robustly debated.

I’m sure any suggested changes will be robustly debated.

Gordon Campbell (Werewolf) on the legal crackdown on hate crimes

Obviously, deterring hate speech and outlawing hate crime has the aim of providing better protections to vulnerable persons and communities, but without unduly restricting the public’s rights to free expression. It isn’t an easy balance to strike.

Hate crimes have a broader effect than most other kinds of violent crime. A hate crime victimizes not only the immediate target but also impacts every member of the group that the direct victim represents. Hate crimes affect families, communities, and sometimes the entire nation.

With hate speech, it is maybe worth keeping in mind that this is not purely a hate crime vs free speech issue. Speech has never been entirely free, under the law. Some language (obscenity) some speech in some contexts (eg yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre) and some types of threat have always been illegal.

Theoretically, the online expression of hate speech should fall under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, but given (a) the superheated and extravagant nature of much “normal” online debate and (b) the extent to which hate content online originates from offshore, the New Zealand law doesn’t currently offer much in the way of a defensive shield.

Moreover, regulating speech online to the point where hate speech and/or the perception of it was entirely eliminated would require a surveillance apparatus and enforcement powers like those more commonly found in totalitarian states than in social democracies. Online, the cure may be almost as mad as the disease.

It could easily be worse if allowed to go too far in restricting speech.

To me hate is a very strong term, but many people say they ‘hate’ many trivial things.

With hate crime, and hate speech then, there may well be some scope for adjusting the boundaries of what counts as “intimidation” – where co-ercion is involved or implied – and “menacing”, where the intention is to engender fear and subservience in the victim. Unfortunately though, when Parliament has tried to deal with this sort of thing in the recent past, ordinary civil liberties have gone out the window in favour of rank political posturing.

Political posturing is a problem in any serious debate.

As Andrew Little has said, we have until December to find viable ways to criminalise expressions that (currently) do not meet the traditional tests of criminality – but which nevertheless have left vulnerable communities or persons feeling less safe. (Arguably, the repeated expression of hostile sentiments can serve to make an actual attack more likely.)

Any pre-emptive law however, which tries to restrict expression in areas where strong social disagreement exists will still need to be even-handed.

Putting that in context of recent discussions, that means restrictions on derogatory expressions related to religion would have to be ‘even handed’ – so should apply equally to ‘hate speech’ against Muslims and Islam, Christians and Christianity, and also agnostics and atheists.

This requirement may not suit groups that feel they have historical grievances, or socio-economic inequality etc on their side.

As the late US justice Antonin Scalia once famously wrote, the state has no authority to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquis of Queensbury Rules. That’s one of the ironies.

The pressure for change may have to do with expressions of hostile content, but the solutions – if they are to be enforceable – will probably need to be formulated in ways that are content neutral. There will be few easy political points to be scored from such formulations.

The free speech versus hate speech debate is more than political – it is about the fundamentals of democracy as well as the fundamentals of a (relatively) free and open society.

Tarrant mad or bad?

Christchurch mass murderer obviously did a very bad, despicable thing. But can his badness be explained by madness?

The only viable starting point for opposing such people is to understand them as neither mad nor bad, but wrong.

In response to Understanding the ideology of the Christchurch killer barrieseargant posted this comment:


“Mad or Bad?

Is Tarrant a psychopath? He may be. The vast majority of ordinary people could not kill in cold blood as he has done.

Tarrant’s manifesto and actions are bad, not mad. Driven, cold and calculating, and fully responsible for his actions, he had been captured by an evil ideology, which made him a hero in his own eyes”

Why is it such people are often framed within a false dichotomy of mad/bad? Its true people have difficulty killing in cold blood, hence the millions of dollars governments spend on taking 18-year-olds, putting them in the army and indoctrinating them to kill people they otherwise wouldn’t say boo to if left to think for themselves.

I doubt the Christchurch terrorist is mad. That would be too easy to dismiss him as “not one of us” if he was just crazy. He could be safely dismissed as the ‘other’, we could locate his decision using some kind of pop-psychology…he was neglected as a child or bullied or didn’t get enough vitamins or his mum was an alcoholic or etc.

I suspect he had a normal childhood, went to the same schools as the rest of us, probably didn’t litter, watched the same TV programmes, and did all the other things the rest of us did. We don’t like the idea, but he is as sane as anyone else.

As for the ‘bad’ part. I don’t find the use of such moralistic categories useful analytically. Sure, his actions may have had repugnant consequences in moral terms but it fails to appreciate the political motivation. Having read his manifesto, it is undoubtedly an eclectic hodge podge of ideas that have been circulating on the far Right for decades, along with personal experiences. Isn’t that how everyone forms the basis of their political views ie reading stuff and experiencing things?

Again, the implicit assumption in a lot of discourse around such people is that if we hugged them enough and they had a better sense of morality, they would choose to repent and become good liberals/social democrats or conservatives like the rest of ‘us’. Few people can handle the idea that the terrorist, in this case, took an internally consistent (once he accepted his initial working premise, which could externally be viewed as faulty) and in that sense ‘rational’ decision as part of a political ideology.

The only viable starting point for opposing such people is to understand them as neither mad nor bad, but wrong. Then the challenge comes in offering a more attractive political alternative. That’s hard work but its the only starting point that has any real hope of working. Locating his actions in personal psychology or moral failure won’t do that.


See Mark Durie’s The Christchurch Killer’s Anti-Humanist Ideology