Pawns, Bishop. Who to believe?

On February 13 this was posted by ‘Cameron Slater’: Bishop victim of blue-on-blue attack?

Several reliable sources are saying that Chris Bishop was the victim of some utu by Bill English and his faction after Bishop, Nikki Kaye and Todd Muller were held responsible for the chatter about Bill’s leadership and leaking to Barry Soper and Richard Harman.

The beauty of the hit on Bishop is that no matter what Bishop says Bill’s team have framed him…

Slater made a number of very low, dirty insinuations in that story (hence no link). He went on the surmise quote a lot considering he had claimed to have “several reliable sources”.

Hit jobs always leave trails, and murk, and make the target look over their shoulder. I should know better than most, having been the target of a few hit jobs. Don’t look at who was hit, or where the information originated… look at who benefits. Look for who isn’t in the mix. Once you establish those things then you are close to identifying who is behind the hit jobs.

Don’t look for what and who was in the books, look for who was missing. Then, look at who benefited from all of those hit jobs. Look for who had previously been hurt or harmed by the targets in some way.

Now look at the Bishop hit job with new eyes.

There’s enough murk to make the post looked like dual hit jobs against English and Bishop, totally unsubstantiated.

Slater made a number of other claims of sources in his scatter gun attacks during National’s leadership contest.

Today, a month later: Now we know why Bishop’s Snapchat issues were leaked

I looked back at the date that Chris Bishop’s little issue with Snapchat was released to media by Labour associated people.

It was 11 February, just two days after the alleged sexual assaults at the Labour youth camp.

Now we know why. Labour thought they were going to be the news after four youths were allegedly sexually assaulted at the camp.

Cue the attack on Chris Bishop.

Heather Du Plessis-Allan fingered Labour for it back then…

She mustn’t have been one of his sources back then.

In the end, Bishop’s Snapchatting was innocuous and not really a story…

That’s a change from Slater’s very dirty insinuations a month ago.

And – there’s an accuracy fail in today’s assertions. Going by The definitive timeline of Labour’s sex scandal (at Whale Oil):

10/02/18 Day 2 of Young Labour Summer Camp

The alleged sexual assaults are said to have happened late that evening or early the following morning.

11/02/18 Day 3 of Young Labour Summer Camp

  • NZME runs story on Chris Bishop about a mother upset at him for messaging her daughter and other minors.
  • Alleged 20-year-old offender sent home from camp.

Slater’s changed claim is that Labour initiated the attack on Bishop via a story that was probably running through the printing presses about the same time as the offences were happening supposedly happening.

Going by comments, the WO army just lapped up Slater’s latest claims, as they believed his claims a month ago without question. One comment:

So the Chris Bishop smear article wasn’t “a blue on blue hit piece” originating from Bill English’s crew after all? It was Labour putting out covering fire a week before any trace of media coverage? Surely both scenarios can’t be true.

No, both scenarios can’t be true – but both were asserted and believed at WO.

Who to believe? The ‘Cameron Slater’ who wrote last month’s post, or the ‘Cameron Slater’ who wrote today’s post?

Also, this puts some doubt (if any where needed) on ‘several reliable sources’.

The WOBlog Party and a dirty politics encore

At times in the past Cameron Slater has promoted Whale Oil as a great new alternative to fading and flailing old media. He had some success until he got dragged down by exposure via Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’, plus getting embroiled in a number of defamation cases (three are still in progress).

He took a Breitbart phrase (probably claims they took it off him) – the media Party, due to the growing involvement of media in political activism as opposed to investigations and reporting. This was very ironic, given his very obvious emphasis on political activism, and this activism has raised a few notches recently.

One could suggest Slater is trying to run a WOBlog Party. One could also question who is financing his activism.It os on record that he has run a mercenary blog to an extent, and continues to not reveal any vested inteersts in his posts and campaigns.

Some of his hit jobs seem to be purely spite, he doesn’t let go of old gripes easily. This has been apparent with his numerous attacks on Bill English, making obvious he has longstanding differences.

All this would be just a now fairly irrelevant blogger flailing. He is generally regarded as politically toxic – he claims to have inside information but rarely has anything other than vague unsubstantiated assertions to offer these days, and quite notably was taken by surprise by English’s announcement on Tuesday – Slater was still busy trying to smear English when the announcement was made, and Slater obviously found out from news reports as it happened.

But in apparent desperation to be noticed (unless he is being paid to smear) Slater has lowered himself to past depths of dirtiness.

He tried this without getting much support in his attacks on English – often multiple posts a day at Whale Oil.

He got very dirty over the non-story about Chris Bishop, making disgraceful insinuations, worded in a way that he presumably hoped would protect his legal butt.

And this scum level politics has continued against potential National leadership contenders, with targeted attacks against some possible contenders yesterday. Again these involve insinuations and suggestions of impropriety, of course only as ‘suggestions’ with no evidence.

He is getting limited support on Whale Oil, with some opposition and criticism getting passed site censorship but ticks also show a general lack of support. He is now regularly trashed on Kiwiblog – there are some examples here yesterday – National leadership candidates.

Slater has obvious political motives, and other motives like money could also be reasonably raised.

However he is likely to be toxic for any MP and especially for any leadership contender that might be seen as associated with or a beneficiary of his dirty attacks. That may be why he generally attacks politicians he opposes without openly showing support for those he wants to promote.

Whatever he is up to Whale Oil is obviously being used as an extreme political activist site, delving to the dirtiest of depths again. That’s not something any politician or party would want to be seen to be a part of.

Bishop, Snapchat and Dirty Politics

The story about Chris Bishop’s brief use of Snapchat was known about and ignored by media before the election.

Several months later, it has now become a dirty politics style smear after the story surfaced at Stuff:  National MP confronted about his social media messages to teenagers

National’s Hutt South MP Chris Bishop was confronted before last year’s election by a mother upset at the older man messaging her daughter and other minors.

Witnesses said Bishop was taken aside and asked to stop what he was doing.

“I wanted to confront him as many parents felt very uncomfortable that their children were messaged,” said a mother who wanted to remain anonymous.

“He admitted it straight away and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.”

Another mother, whose 13-year-old daughter was allegedly in daily contact with Bishop for a week or two on Snapchat, took to Facebook to vent her frustration.

The mother, who also wanted to remain anonymous, allegedly wrote to MP Paul Goldsmith to complain about Bishop’s behaviour.

None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions were anything other than misguided.

Note: “None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions were anything other than misguided”. In other words, this was a non-story.

But it has become a dirty politics story, with claims that it was an internal National Party hit job, and counter claims that it was a diversionary hit from Labour.

When David Farrar posted about it at Kiwiblog as Anonymous innuendo – some will see some irony in his comment “Disappointed Fairfax has run a story like this, with anonymous sources” – Matthew Hooton both played down what Bishop had done, but blamed National party insiders:

I guess the problem with Snapchat is the lack of a record. But I have no doubt the exchanges were as anodyne as when MPs usually communicate with school kids who contact them. This is a hit job, presumably by people associated with Bill English against one of the new MPs seeking generational change.

Note ‘presumably’ – in other words, no evidence. And:

This is the sort of thing that happens when National has a subterranean internal war. People just forget, because it’s been more than 10 years since the last one. But Labour also on the suspect list, of course. But, if it was them, I think they would have dropped it during the election campaign.

Plus speculation that it could have been Labour.

Cameron Slater went further – much further, delving into extreme dirty politics with carefully worded (arse-covering) insinuations. I won’t repeat the dirt, but Slater claimed:

Yesterday there was a hit job on National MP Chris Bishop.

When someone commented ” I am also upset to see comments from some that they think it came from Bill English” Slater replied “Because it did. Join the dots.”

I’ll join some dots – Slater has no evidence, Slater has a long standing grudge against Bill English, Slater has attacked Bishop before, and Slater’s word is wothr bugger all, he has a reputation of being wrong and making up malicious shit. He repeats:

“Not the left. Internal Nat hit job.”

“My information suggests it was a Blue on Blue hit job.”

Note ‘suggests’. No evidence at all.

But Bill does, to protect himself. As Sally points out, if Labour had this they would have dropped it the week before the election. This is patch protection from National party players.

That sounds like nothing more than speculation laced with a long standing grudge.

Why the hell would National, who spent last week playing down leadership speculation and papering over any internakl division, do a dirty on a popular MP?

And Slater’s ‘Dirty Politics’ partner Farrar is notably in disagreement (or spinning a different line): HDPA on the Bishop smear story

Real dirty politics, but I predict no book written about this.

Labour just hate the fact Chris Bishop worked so hard that he won Hutt South off them, so this is what they stoop to.

Farrar referred to Heather du Plessis-Allan on Newstalk ZB (about 11:30): http://120.138.20.16/WeekOnDemand/ZB/wellington/2018.02.12-09.15.00-D.mp3

Why is this a story now? Because it’s a Labour Party hit job. That’s what I think.

I’ll be honest. I knew about this before the election. I knew there were messages about this. Guess how I found out? From the Labour Party. The Labour Party knew about this. So the only reason it has been delayed is probably because the parents would finally talk about it.

The Labour Party has probably been working on the parents to try and get them to talk to the media. So this in my opinion is a Labour Party hit job. And I think it’s actually disgusting to be honest.

And HPDA’s partner follows a similar line – Barry Soper’s The Soap Box: Vilification of Chris Bishop is sick

The vilification of Bishop is sick, mainly by those with warped minds, and is obviously politically motivated, curiously coming at a time when Labour was on the ropes over its unfathomable closure of charter schools!

Also no evidence that Labour was behind the stuff story. But this deserves more investigation, whether National or Labour are behind the attack smear.

This is dirty, and I think alarmingly so. Disregarding the Slater sleaze, the insinuations against Bishop, even though the original story said “None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions”, are dirty politics at it’s worst.

“What National needs to do” – a transparent envelope

‘Cameron Slater’ in  The back of the envelope analysis of what National needs to do to win in 2020 at Whale Oil:

National still has no path to 61 seats and victory.

That is the key.

They do have various paths to forming the next Government (‘victory’ is not a thing under MMP). It won’t be easy for them – and it won’t be easy for Labour, NZ First or the Greens either.

The problem is like a rotting fish for want of a better metaphor. Everyone knows the ancient proverb that a fish rots from the head down.

And so it is with National.

While Bill leads National, National has no route to 61 seats in the house.

Let’s face it, Bill English is basically devoid of personality.

English was actually credited with running a very good campaign, showing his own personality, and achieving a very creditable result for a third term party in government. He missed out on remaining Prime Minister because NZ First chose not to back them, that’s all.

He tried to emulate John Key’s blokiness and just came across as fake. You can’t spend a lifetime in the beltway scheming and plotting to counter for your own lack of ability and not have it affect your personality. When your chosen career of politician is a career actually chosen for you by your Mum then there is no real driving force inside of you…other that seeking power for power’s sake.

So it’s another attempt to trash English. Another of many attempts.

How popular National would be if they got rid of Bill English and a few other hangers-on like Nick Smith and Paula Bennett.

And others. Slater has been naming National MPs for months that he doesn’t like so wants them out.

So, what National needs to do is lop off the stinking, rotting head of the fish, and get themselves a new leader and deputy more suited to the modern political environment. That team must also show that unlike Labour, they have personality AND the necessary skills to lead the country.

Labour succeeded this year due to the personality of Jacinda Ardern.

English led the country for nearly a year, and was generally regarded as successful at that, except by extremists with their own agendas at the likes of The Standard – and Whale Oil.

All National needs to ask itself is “What is our route to 61 seats?”. As soon as they realise that Bill English won’t provide that route because of his long, long, long history then he will have his political throat cut. If he’s smart he will do it himself after wangling some offshore job somewhere…but he has only a limited time to do it.

Slater offers no analysis of what National should do except dump English and others he doesn’t like. His envelope is very transparent.

I think that English did the right thing staying on as leader of the Opposition. When Helen Clark and her deputy Michael Cullen stepped down straight after losing in 2008 Labour were rushed into appointing Phil Goff as a caretaker leader, and then struggled for nine years until the fortuitous rise of Ardern.

It may well be that it is best for English to retire, but it would be silly to rush that. Other senior National MPs will no doubt also step aside during the next couple of years. They will do it their way, not jump to Slater’s agenda.

And despite repeatedly trashing those in National he holds grudges against, as he did through the election campaign and since, Slater is still largely failing to rouse support on Whale Oil.

Tanya Stebbing commented:

English actually did lead National to an election win, he did brilliantly, it was just that Winston had an axe to grind. Well, Winston won’t have the chance at the next election, so it will be down to Labour/Greens versus National/Act, and if the new govt continue performing poorly they may well lose more votes. We will see petrol hikes next year, no tax cuts, inflation rise, food and services go up. Once people get hit in the pocket, votes become very volatile.

I hope English stays on, he did an outstanding job, wouldn’t it be amazing if he got up yet again for third-time victory, one that is unable to be stolen and there are no coalition nonsense talks! Now, that would be sweet indeed!

That got 24 upticks.

Christie, unlike Slater, tried some analysis (4 upticks):

I have said this before. I believe NZF will be gone t the net election, as Winston has promised and failed to deliver one time too many. That will leave 3 parties in place – two of which are joined at the hip. We will effectively be back to FPP and there is no reason why National cannot govern in such circumstances.

That’s one possibility that looks reasonably likely. Slater responded (1 uptick):

There is plenty of reason. Firstly you are defying the vagaries of MMP. Nowhere int eh world that has MMP has one party ever governed alone.

That doesn’t mean it will never happen. It’s quite feasible that NZ First and Greens miss the threshold next election if they disappoint voters this term. That will leave National and Labour and possibly ACT. A one party government would be likely, unless National tacked ACT on again.

Secondly…what is National’s path to 61 seats?

That’s about the extent of Slater’s ‘analysis’, a question he fails to answer except for banging on about a purge of people he doesn’t like.

I’ll suggest some possibilities to a pathway to 61 seats for National.

Leaders and MPs not rushing into retiring. Being an effective opposition. Coming up with a sensible set of policies. Running an effective campaign in 2020.

Other things largely outside the control of National will also play a major part in any pathways, like how Ardern measures up as Prime Minister, how Labour Ministers perform, how Winston Peters performs, whether Peters retires or not, whether Shane Jones looks anything more than an maleloquent idiot, how James Shaw performs, how the Greens perform.

National did remarkably well for a party in their third term in Government in this year’s election, and they managed that without heeding Slater’s advice.

My back of the envelope analysis of what National needs to do to win in 2020 is to continue to keep as much distance as possible from Slater and his transparent agenda.

Whale Oil dives deeper into dirt

Lurcher alerted me to this in a manner that was unsuitable for posting, but he makes a valid point – Whale Oil is sinking to shitty depths. One of the latest examples is a photoshopped image linking a Government MP to Charles Manson – I’m not linking to it and don’t want the image shown here.

It was posted under the authorship of ‘SB” – Spanish Bride, also known as Juana Atkins. She seems to have increased her management role at Whale Oil after the recent departure of Pete Belt.

Also posted under ‘SB’ recently was a  cartoon depicting African people as apes. Claiming ‘free speech’ is one thing but that doesn’t excuse being dirty and derogatory.

Posts under ‘Cameron Slater’ have also reverted to more of his bully blog style, with repeated petty labelling and name calling and derogatory comments. Political blogging reverting to it’s worst.

Yesterday alone, after other media had largely moved on, Whale Oil featured at least eight posts attacking MP Golriz Ghahraman and the Green Party.

That’s a gross misrepresentation, presumably deliberate, at best.

Whale Oil has also been running a sustained series of attack posts on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern which have been at times blatantly misogynist.

All this dirt does is discredits Atkins, Slater and Whale Oil even more (if that’s possible) and gives critics justification for proclaiming the return of ‘Dirty Politics’, which has already been done, associating David Farrar and Kiwiblog and Jordan Williams, who have also been attacking Ghahraman, and also the National Party by association.

This goes far outside acceptable standards of political coverage.

Dirty bully blogging is back as Whale Oil sinks into the mud, while hypocritically regularly applauding their standards.

Will trousers stay up at Belt-less Whale Oil

Without much fanfare late yesterday at Whale Oil: Goodbye Pete

Pete has worked his last day at Whaleoil. It marks the end of five years of what has been a rollercoaster ride for all of us. A lot of what happened was not what Pete had signed up for.

Pete has forever changed Whaleoil for the better with his moderation plan. He assured Cam that the initial pushback would be worth the stress and he was 100% right. His expertise in moderating online forums transformed Whaleoil into a place where everyone felt safe to comment and where comments were as much of an attraction for intelligent content as the posts themselves.

Soon after joining Whale Oil Pete Belt led the commenter purges in 2015. While it cleaned up some aspects of the WO forums it also sanitised them, removing critical voices and protecting the post messages – some of which we now know were paid for. Some criticisms have returned, carefully, but it often looks sycophantic like The Standard or The Daily Blog, with dissent moderated out.

“Comments were as much of an attraction for intelligent content as the posts themselves.” Sadly that is mostly delusion. There are some good comments and occasional good posts (most rely on mainstream media content) Whale Oil is nothing like the ground breaking story breaking force it once was. It is now just another blog, albeit still larger than the others, but operating in a corner of New Zealand discussion now dominated by Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter, and possibly overshadowed by quite non-blog performers like Reddit.

On a number of occasions, Pete stepped up and took up the slack. When Cam was in court for a week and a half he enabled Whaleoil to keep going when the going was really tough and when Cam needed the occasional weekend off to go hunting having Pete on staff made it possible.

Indications are that Belt held WO together through turbulent times, both financially and operationally. He will leave a big deficit in blog management.

Curiously SB (Spanish Bride) posted the announcement that Belt had left. Nothing from her husband in comments either. Perhaps some public thanks are yet to come from Cameron Slater.

Is SB taking over management of WO?

It will be interesting to see what happens there now. With content being nothing out of the ordinary now, apart from some now old hat colourful (or dirty) trashing of people and parties.

With the Belt gone, will the trousers stay up?

 

Whale struggling against the tide

Whale Oil continues with contradictory attacks on National and Bill English, but are struggling against the tide of opinion of commenters.

Yesterday under ‘Cameron Slater’: I just received an email from the Leader of the Opposition

Here I was, putting the last post to bed before putting  my feet up, and what would zap into my inbox?  An email from Bill no less.

A loss is a loss Bill.   You don’t congratulate yourself on how you ran the best ever campaign to become the opposition.  In the end, what you did failed.

Slater kept on saying he wanted English to fail, and then complains when he does.

What you are doing now is very similar to what Labour did when they lost in 2008.  They thought it an aberration and all they had to do was wait three years.

It’s a quite different situation to 2008, when Labour had no coalition options and dropped to 34%.

Oh Bill, you know I’m involved.

I just wish you remembered to fight for 1.1 million people when you were sitting in that room not listening to what was being said at the other side of the table.

It all came to tears.  And 1.1 million people, a lot of volunteers and the lower party hierarchy’s work came to absolutely nothing.

Cheers Bill.  Nice of you to stay in touch.

Call me sometime, if you have the guts.

Due to the bitterness and contradictions I think it can be safely assume that this was written by Slater himself.

He slams English (and others in National), and then shows that he wants to be called, to be included. He seems to hate being left out in the cold, but keeps showing that he is not an attractive option for any party these days. He can’t be trusted not to turn on anyone when he has a hissy fit.

Comment from wasailot (53 upticks):

I got that email too. $1000 donated to the National party just now, plenty more to come.

I am left a little confused by some commenters on WO. Some say that they voted for winston to see Bill, Bennett, Steven, et al thrown out of government. Some of those then bag National for not giving winston whatever it took to regain power. I would have thought they would be very pleased to see National out on their ear.

Response from ShoreRight:

Got the email too, donated often during the campaign and will keep on doing so.

Comment from Grant (51 upticks):

I actually respect Bill for not going with Winston. It was a great move – it was either Labour this election or next. One hobbled and controlled by Winston or the other just the Green’s and Labour with free range. National are playing the long game and it is you who is not listening or realising the obvious.

Comment from KGB (53 upticks):

Perhaps they did fight for what many supporters believed in.
No Winston!!!
I support the decision to not allow a corrupted NZF represent Racing & Fisheries.
National in opposition is for me a better result than bending over for, not only a man I don’t respect, but the riffraff he leads.

Comment from Rugged (25 upticks):

The article calls him out for not fighting for the values we all believe in. Unfortunately even this centre left version of National had incompatable values with Winston “crush capitalism” Peters. Surprise surprise National couldn’t land a deal with someone who thinks a $20 minimum wage is a good idea.
would honestly rather them be in opposition then trying to adopt Winstons interventions

Comment from AndrewG (12 upticks):

Well, the consensus seems to be that Bill has been a gracious loser, and a fantastic leader and the email certainly confirmed that.
But Winston was after utu for a long time and I suspect Bill was well aware of that.
Now it’s up to Bill and the team to start again and lead National forward.

Finally a response from Jman:

Cam has been encouraging us blog readers to vote NZ First for at least the past year, with the assurance that Winston would always side with National because he hated the Greens too much to ever be part of a 3 way Labour, Greens, NZ First coalition.

I can understand his annoyance at Bill for screwing up the negotiations and thus making him completely wrong.

For three years Whale Oil has been rendered toxic in wider politics, and increasingly over the last few months has been struggling against the tide in it’s own pond, which while retaining popularity as a forum for some has become a political backwater.

If inconsistency and bitterness continues to dominate then this is unlikely to change this much.

Craig v Stringer defamation

Details of one of the defamation cases related to the Colin Craig fall from grace in the Conservative Party were revealed in court in Christchurch today.

Stuff: Details emerge of defamation case settlement between former Conservative Party members

Details of a confidential defamation settlement between former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and former board member John Stringer have emerged from a High Court hearing in Christchurch.

The hearing heard that as a part of the settlement in January, Stringer was to pay $100,000 to Craig.

The payment was subject to a “means verification process”, which examined his ability to pay and after that process he was not required to pay anything.

The day-long legal argument was held in Christchurch on Monday after Stringer filed an application to have Associate Judge Rob Osborne recall his judgment, set it aside, and strike out the proceedings.

Alternatively, Stringer sought to have the judgment recalled and reworded to reflect the actual financial payment, without having it struck out.

At the settlement conference in late January, the parties agreed Stringer would apologise, retract his statement, and pay an undisclosed sum.

Stringer told the hearing the amount agreed on was $100,000.

Stringer argued on Monday that all the “financial matters” could not be discussed but in the days after the deal, Craig was reported in the media as saying Stringer would pay Craig an undisclosed sum.

After the means verification hearing, which decided nothing should be paid, Craig said Stringer had published on his Facebook page that the case had been “settled for zero”. A print-out of the Facebook entry was produced to the court.

Associate Judge Osborne said: “Publication of the zero settlement was clearly misleading.”

Craig told the hearing: “Disclosure of the zero payment has devalued the settlement to me.”

Stringer said Craig had disclosed part of the text of the letter from him to McGregor, but the full 12-page text only reached him after the settlement conference. It caused the settlement conference to be unacceptable to him.

Craig said he disclosed the part of the letter that he had kept on McGregor’s employment file at the party office, but he did not have the full letter himself. He had sought it from McGregor through a non-party disclosure application, and she eventually provided it.

The judge reserved his decision and said it would take 5-6 weeks for him to issue it.

This is one of a number of defamation cases related to revelations emerging from the Conservative Party. whose secretary resigned two days before the 2014 election.

Jordan Williams won a record award from a jury last year but that was subsequently set aside by the judge.

Result
[112] The parties are to file memoranda by 3.00 pm on Wednesday 26 April 2017 advising whether they consent to the Court substituting its own award of damages for the jury’s award, pursuant to s 33 of the Act. If confirmation is not received by that date that both parties consent to such a course, then I order that the jury’s verdicts be set aside and the proceedings be set down for a retrial on the first available date that is convenient to senior counsel.

I don’t know what has happened in the proceeding since then.

 

Craig attempted a defamation claim against ex Conservative staff member J Stiekma.

[36] The entire claim is therefore struck out pursuant to District Court Rule 15.1
pursuant to the Jam eel principle, and particularly because of the extremely limited
dissemination of the admitted statements and the unlikelihood that they would have
any effect whatsoever on Mr Craig’s reputation.

Craig v Slater tit for tat defamation went to trial in May, with the judge reserving his decision on June 1. There is no judgment on that yet.

Source: http://www.defamationupdate.co.nz/2017

Sellman, Swinburn, Bradbrook v Slater, Graham, Rich

Stuff: Whale Oil blogger, former MP, and PR specialist could face jury

Blogger Cameron Slater, Food and Grocery Council head Katherine Rich and PR specialist Carrick Graham have failed in a bid to get a defamation claim thrown out of court.

The case was brought by public health professionals Dr Doug Sellman, Dr Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook, who alleged they had been defamed in a series of blog posts on Slater’s Whale Oil blog, and comments Graham allegedly left on the posts.

They also alleged Graham had organised the posts’ publication and authored one of them himself, and Rich – a former National MP – and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council had paid Graham for his services.

The case was prompted by allegations made in Nicky Hager’s 2014 book Dirty Politics.

In a decision released this week, the High Court at Auckland declined the defendants’ bid to have the case struck out.

They had argued the case was filed too late as it was brought more than two years after the first publication of the statements.

However, Justice Matthew Palmer said as the statements were still available on Slater’s blog, they had, in effect, been published multiple times.

This is an interesting and important ruling.

[40] In relation to defamation proceedings Parliament reconfirmed in 2010 that a standard limitation period of two years is appropriate – less than for other claims. That reflects a policy that a person who has been defamed ought to take legal steps to vindicate his or her rights relatively quickly after the defamation has been published, or after he or she reasonably becomes aware of its publication. That may be two years after a blog is first posted. But if the blog is still up on the web, and the publisher cannot show the post has not been accessed in the past two years, I see no reason why a defamed person should not be able to sue for the continuing publication of a blog in order to vindicate their reputation. Accordingly, I consider the multiple publication rule is the law in New Zealand.

So a blog post is an ongoing publication. This must surely also apply to news items posted online by media, as well as tweets and comments in social media like in Facebook.

The judge also found that what Slater claims is ‘colourful language’ is potentially defamatory.

[85] Third, I consider the terms “trougher”, “rorter” and “ripping off”. Where these terms are used in the statements complained of here, the plaintiffs plead that, in its natural and ordinary meaning, the statement means and has been understood to mean, that the relevant plaintiff “has misused public funds”, “has misappropriated public funds”, and “has used public funds for his own benefit, to ‘enrich’ his own life and not in the public interest”. The defendants offer more innocuous meanings, as noted above.

[86] I consider an ordinary reasonable person would understand references to “troughing” and “troughers” to have connotations going beyond the meaning of being funded publicly. The same is true of “rort” and “rorter” and “ripping off”. I consider the ordinary reasonable person, with the attributes identified by Blanchard J, would infer those terms to carry a pejorative connotation of wrongdoing in the use of funding; being, in some sense, morally or legally illegitimate.

[87] These terms do not take their meanings only from the tone or adjectives that
qualify them. And their meanings are not altered by, or an ordinary part of, a context of the robust political debate. The dictionary definitions suggest “rorter” and “rip-off” may have a more fraudulent connotation than “trougher”. Rort, for example, can support a meaning of fraudulent or dishonest. For each, a derogatory meaning is part and parcel of the ordinary meaning of these terms in New Zealand. That seems likely to be why they were used. The reader is likely to think worse of their subject, in a more than minor way.

I think that has often seemed to be the intent of whoever writes and posts at Whale Oil.

[89] The terms “trougher”, “rort” and “rip-off” are capable of bearing the meanings alleged by the plaintiffs here, in the specific passages identified in the annex. Whether they are, here, is a question for trial.

So the applications to strike out were denied.

Result
[125] I decline the applications to strike-out the causes of action except in relation to the pleaded meanings identified in the table annexed to this judgment.

[126] I am inclined to let costs lie where they fall, since each party has had a measure of success.

[127] Because this proceeding could be the subject of a jury trial, and it is important the jury’s minds not be prejudiced, as the parties requested, the contents of the allegations in pleadings should not be publicly reported. The contents of the allegations are largely contained in the table annexed to this judgment.

So another defamation trial looks likely for Slater, this time accompanied by Graham and Rich.

The full judgment: https://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/sellman-ors-v-slater-ors/@@images/fileDecision?r=352.466892743

More from Newsroom: Whaleoil, ex MP, PR man to face jury trial

It will be interesting to see whether a Court accepts claims that Whale Oil has been used to attack people for payment, as claimed by Nicky Hager in ‘Dirty Politics’.

However it may not be ready to go to trial yet.

[123] Prior to the hearing I had directed the parties to propose further timetabling directions for the substantive hearing. The defendants indicated they would seek a stay pending the outcome of any appeal of this judgment, if the strike-out applications were declined. The plaintiffs indicated they would press for their proposed timetable to be ordered.

This is just one of a number of cases considering the use of Whale Oil as an attack blog.

Whale Oil was integral to the defamation case between Jordan Williams and Colin Craig. This initially resulted in a record jury award against Craig, but that was quashed by the trial judge and a retrial may be forthcoming.

Slater is also waiting for the judgment in the related defamation cases between him and Craig.

There is another case involving Slater and Whale Oil that is presumably ongoing. A judgment in July:

[2] Mr Slater has applied to strike out Mr Blomfield’s proceeding on grounds of delay. Mr Blomfield applies for further discovery, on an “unless” basis. Both applications are opposed. Mr Blomfield contends that the delay in prosecuting his claim to hearing has largely been caused by Mr Slater’s own actions.

This case has taken a long time.

[26] The primary reason why the case has taken so long to get to trial is the need to resolve an important question of law about whether s 68(1) of the Evidence Act 2006 (protection of journalists’ sources) applied to a blogger such as Mr Slater. That question was first addressed by the District Court in a judgment given on 26 September 2013 by Judge Blackie It was the subject of Asher J’s judgment on appeal. Subsequently, Mr Slater applied for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. An application to adduce further evidence was dismissed on 19 November 2015. Ultimately, on 17 May 2016, the substantive application for leave to appeal was abandoned.

[27] In the meantime, there were also contempt applications brought by Mr Blomfield in respect of alleged breaches of an undertaking by Mr Slater not to publish certain material relevant to the proceeding. Those applications were dealt with in two judgments given by Asher J on 10 February and 18 February 2016.

Slater’s application to strike out the proceeding was also struck out.

Judgment: https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/Documents/pdf/jdo/d4/alfresco/service/api/node/content/workspace/SpacesStore/1f0d30c0-f211-43f2-840a-00b90faf848d/1f0d30c0-f211-43f2-840a-00b90faf848d.pdf

In yet another legal action involving  Slater and Whale Oil and also Carrick Graham to attack people: Lawyer Jeanne Denham who tried to destroy ex-husband Peter Clague’s career suspended

Denham was found guilty of misconduct earlier this year over her decision to pursue a private prosecution of Clague for assault which the judge called an “abuse of process”.

She also conducted an elaborate PR campaign against both her ex-husband and Kristin School, with the assistance of controversial PR man Carrick Graham and blogger Cameron Slater.

From NEW ZEALAND LAWYERS AND CONVEYANCERS DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL

[8] Ms Denham engaged the services of a public relations consultant, Mr Carrick
Graham, who in turn provided press releases which were approved by Ms Denham, to the blogger Cameron Slater for the “Whaleoil” blog.

[9] Having equivocated and (she acknowledged in evidence before us) being concerned about the harm she was likely to do to her former husband, his reputation and the reputation of his employer Kristin School, Ms Denham determined in any event she ought to proceed with the media strategy.

[10] On 18 October 2012 she filed a complaint with the police regarding the alleged assault on 10 September 2010. The timing of this complaint was that it shortly followed the response (and opposition) by Mr Clague to her relationship property claim. Some six days after this complaint the first blog post on Whaleoil appeared stating that the head of Kristin School was being questioned by police regarding a
charge of male assaults female.

[11] The blog also named the Chair of the Kristin School Board of Governors and stated that the school had known about the allegations and done nothing.

[12] On 25 October 2012 Ms Denham texted Mr Graham saying “Carrick – Cameron’s blog is starting to generate interest in the Kristin community. It’ll spread like wildfire now!” Two minutes later the response from Mr Graham read “Excellent. We’ll talk more tomorrow about what else we can run on there!”

Many more details followed, including:

(6) That Ms Denham was paying a public relations agent and in turn a blogger (Cameron Slater) to publicise what would otherwise be private matters (at least until aired in Court), is a clear indicator that “justice for a crime committed” would not appear to be the dominant purpose. In examination about Mr Slater’s involvement in her payment to him, both in the District Court criminal trial and before the Tribunal, her evidence was evasive and unsatisfactory. Furthermore she misled the Tribunal in her affidavit dated 30 November 2016 where she stated “I did not have any editorial input into the Whaleoil postings and did not have any real understanding of who “Cameron” was at the time or the true nature of his Whaleoil blog”. Emails to Carrick Graham in late October 2012, in which she seems to have a clear view that her reputation might be tarnished by a connection with Mr Slater, and in which she certainly refers to editorial input to the press releases, if not the blog itself, discredit this assertion.

And from

[74] For example, at paragraphs [31-33] when discussing the Whaleoil blog that referred to “the fool” avoiding “a whole world of pain and trouble (not to mention public attention) by settling the issue when they separated”. His Honour commented at [32]:

“[32] It is difficult to interpret this as anything other than a blatant attempt to
apply pressure to the defendant to settle the complainant’s relationship property
claim, given the timing of the posting, with the affidavits in reply on that claim
due, given the complainant’s acknowledgement that she was aware of the
material which was going up on the Whale Oil site and given that she was
paying Mr Slater for his services.

[33] The complainant denied any input into these postings but against the
overall background as I have set it out I find that impossible to accept.”

Of course the defamation case between Sellman, Swinburn, Bradbrook and Slater, Graham, Rich is yet to be decided, but the latest judgment has found that it should not be struck out and should be tested in court.

Slater must have confidence in his defence, posts attacking those taking this case against him using some of the language detailed by the judge are still published on Whale Oil.

Slater implications on Peters Super leak

Cameron Slater continues to make vague accusations and implications about who leaked information about Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayments, claiming to know who leaked but also saying he is unable to say who it was. Given his changing claims in reaction to news it sounds most likely to be bluster and bull.

But yesterday Slater went further with another implication, this time of his source of information.

He posted So, if it wasn’t IRD then who was the leaker

If not IRD then who?

I’ll bet MSD has the same result. That then leaves Anne Tolley, Paula Bennett, Wayne Eagleson and several staffers on the hook. If it wasn’t the civil servants then it has to be one of that lot.

That sounds like spraying around accusations without having any idea who leaked.

It isn’t that anonymous…everyone knows who did it.

If ‘everyone’ includes Slater, if he knows who did it, why is he spreading the mud around so much?

They might be able to hide behind the OIA but they won’t be able to hide behind court discovery. National are just being cute. They leaked it and that will come out. If it wasn’t IRD or MSD then it can only be ministers or ministerial staff.

Back to vague again.

As is happening more often at Whale Oil, Slater was challenged on this in comments.

WhaleOilIRDLeak

So Slater has made vague insinuations against a number of people, claims ‘everyone knows’ who did it, and then says “you don’t know what I know’.

That all sounds very lame.

Not so lame is the implication by Slater that a source of information for him on the leak is Winston Peters’ lawyer, who also represented Slater in his defamation case against Colin Craig.

Slater has often claimed to be hard up, has often asked on Whale Oil for donations to help him pay for legal expenses, has often said how expensive defamation cases are…but that’s another story.

Slater has also been pimping for Peters and for NZ First for months, and has been throwing mud at the National and Bill English and various National Ministers and MPs…but that’s largely another story too.

What is of particular interest here is that Slater has implied that Peters’ lawyer may be providing Slater “what I know” about the Super leak.

Stuff on August 28: Winston Peters has investigators working on who leaked info about his pension overpayment

NZ First leader Winston Peters says he won’t stand by and let someone get away with “blatant dirty politics” after information about his superannuation overpayment was leaked.

“Someone decided they would break the law and leak it in a political way and some of those tweets and other comments point to knowledge out there that it was malicious and politically dirty,” Peters told media following a candidates meeting in Northland on Monday night.

Peters said he had investigators working on uncovering the leak and would let the public know who it was – “I’ve got my deep suspicions”.

Peters had also implied that a number of culprits were responsible for the leak, starting with IRD according to RNZ but that has now been ruled out.

There is no indication here that Peters’ lawyer is involved in the investigation. I think it would be extraordinary that he would give details to Slater at all, and especially knowing how loose with his fingers Slater is on Whale Oil.

Would Peters himself pass on information to Slater? I think that’s doubtful too.

Peters has a history of spraying around accusations, claiming to know who is responsible for things, claiming to have facts, but often failing to front up with any evidence.

In that regard Slater is very much the same. I don’t think his implication to fact ratio is very high. He is high on dirt and innuendo, and low on credibility.

I doubt that any lawyer will appreciate being name dropped by Slater trying to sound credible.

I think it’s most likely that Slater is guessing, he has no real idea who leaked, but he is trying to sound like he’s in the know to defend his accusations to readers who challenge him on “making accusations here based on nothing substantive”.

If the leaker is revealed then both Peters and Slater will probably claim to have been right – given the number of accusation’s they make the chances are one of their targets could be close to the mark.