Ngaro apologises, sort of

Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro has apologised, sort of,  for a speech that threatened repercussions against an application for a partnership school involving Willie Jackson if Jackson cricised National during the election campaign – see Charter school threat from National MP.

Actually that sounds like a poor apology.

This has seriously embarrassed National and senior ministers have (sort of) said that Ngaro’s remarks were out of order.

Stuff:  Apology over threat to withdraw funding from Government opponents

A junior government minister has apologised to his senior colleagues for “crossing the line” after implying people who bagged the Government would lose their taxpayer funding.

National’s campaign manager and Finance Minister Steven Joyce said Ngaro realised he had crossed the line with his comments and apologised.

“He apologised to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and myself as campaign chair. He got carried away…he crossed the line.”

Joyce said Ngaro’s comments were “not the way we operate”.

“We work with providers of all types all the time; people have their political views separate to work they do with the Government. The Government doesn’t take a view on people’s political views.”

Joyce and National and Ngaro will have to do much better than this on arrogance of power, or they could crash and burn this election.

There’s potentially been a lot of damage done to National – something like this could easily precipitate the current Government’s demise.

Did Stuff stuff up?

The Sunday Star Times pushed suppression under injunction boundaries with their story that made it easy to the identify Cabinet Minister who’s brother was to appear in court today.

And it appears that today Stuff posted an article (about midday) on the court case today and then pulled it. Except that things don’t disappear that easily on the Internet. They don’t even disappear that easily on Stuff’s website.

Did Stuff stuff up? Were they told to remove the article? or did they (or their lawyers) think better of it?

This case is like a jigsaw with a few large pieces, and most of the pieces supplied by Stuff.

In contrast NZ Herald reports:

Blanket suppression over man facing sex charges

A man has appeared in a district court facing sex charges.

A blanket suppression order has been put in place and will be argued in three weeks time.

The order not only covers the accused and the charges, but even the court he appeared in.

And once again The Standard allows revealing comments to stand. Their double standard over allowing speculation and revealing suppressed information continues.

Cabinet Minister willing to step down but won’t

NZ Herald reports that the Cabinet Minister who’s brother is facing child indecency charges is willing to step down from his position, but John Key doesn’t think it’s necessary.

PM John Key: Cabinet minister willing to step down if needed over brother facing indecency charges

Prime Minister John Key says a Cabinet minister whose brother is reportedly facing indecency charges was willing to step down if needed, but Mr Key was confident the issue could be managed without that happening.

Mr Key said the minister in question had advised Mr Key’s office about the situation as soon as the minister knew about it. Mr Key had sought advice on it.

“The advice I’ve received is that there is no conflict of interest and the issue can be managed. People appreciate that Cabinet ministers, like anyone else, have family but I’m quite confident the position can be managed.”

He said the minister was happy to step down if that was what was required. “But that isn’t the advice I’ve got.”

… the advice he received was “very thorough and that advice very clearly is to follow the action I’m taking.”

That will be criticised by some (who would criticise regardless) but it would create a problem of it’s own if the Minister stepped down – it would then be obvious who it was, effectively breaking name suppression.

Breach of interim injunction?

The Sunday Star Times (and Stuff) may have at least come close to breaching an interim injunction, and if covered by the injunction commenters on a major New Zealand blog have fairly blatantly breached it, and has so far the blog has taken no action about it. Tony Wall wrote:

A Cabinet minister’s brother is due to appear in court this week on child indecency charges.

The man has been summonsed to appear in the District Court on Tuesday — but the man’s lawyer, high-powered Queen’s Counsel Jonathan Eaton, last night went to the High Court in Christchurch to obtain an injunction stopping the Sunday Star-Times naming the man or the minister concerned.

Last night, High Court Justice David Gendall imposed an interim injunction preventing the newspaper naming the accused and the Cabinet minister.

But the article gives enough details to make it quite easy to narrow down possibilities.

And commenters on a major New Zealand blog have fairly openly and blatantly identified the Minister. And site moderators have taken no action, despite the comments being prominent, and despite being advise of possible legal issues, and despite a moderator being active on the same post.

And despite that blog having clear policy against this behaviour.

If we and/or our lawyers feel that the the comment or post oversteps a legal bound, violates good taste, invades the privacy of people outside the public domain, or goes beyond the scope of our site – then and only then will we do something about it.

Most of the time the moderators will be harsher on offending content than any court in NZ is likely to be.

The breaches began about 8.30 am this morning and subsequent comments confirmed what was heavily hinted at.

If they have identified the Minister then it’s clearly defying the intent to prevent revealing the identity which sounds likely to be subject to a name suppression application.

And the blog management would appear to be allowing these breaches to remain on public view.

UPDATE: I’ve been advised by the blog that if they haven’t been advised of an injunction then they don’t have to stop speculation (but they are obviously aware of the injunction).

They also claim that speculation is fine as ling as it doesn’t explicitly name the people protected by the injunction (despite the collective comments clearly identifying someone).

And the claim that suppression orders “just stop people being named, not speculated on”.

That surprises me – it’s not how I understand that name suppression works, and I’m surprised this blogger is taking this position.

UPDATE2: This question has been asked on the blog:

The courts granted an injunction to prevent publication by the SST of the Minister’s name. Does that injunction apply to the public?

A response from the moderator:

Likely. As I have no idea who it is, So to conform to the reported suppression, I will just limit people saying explicitly which minister it is.

From a legal point of view that surprises me. Taken as a whole the blog thread clearly identifies the Minister.

Mind you, after the questions on how Carmel’s mothers name got into media, I am only inclined to follow the letter of suppression orders.

From a blog and political point of view that doesn’t surprise me.