The new look Whale Oil – as it should be

A new look to whaleoil.co.nz

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is a very fine ending.

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

Dermot Nottingham appeals fail, sentence increased

The original 12 month home detention sentence (three and a half of which has been served) and 100 hours community work has been quashed, and replaced with a new sentence of 12 months home detention presumably beginning from the appeal judgment made last week. He has been banned again from using the Internet for 18 months.

After being charged in 2015 and following numerous delays Dermot Nottingham went to trial last year and was found guilty by a jury of five criminal harassment charges and two breaches of court suppression orders.  He was sentenced in July 2018.

Nottingham appealed both the conviction and sentence, and the Crown also appealed the sentence, claiming it was ‘manifestly inadequate’.  Nottingham has lost both of his appeals, and the sentence has been increased, but again by a judicial whisker he has avoided a prison sentence.

NZ Herald: Blogger’s convictions for ‘malicious and misogynistic attacks’ on former MP, business people stick

Auckland’s Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey said at Nottingham’s sentencing the breaches were an “attack on the High Court”.

Judge Jonathan Down also categorised the breaches as “blatant and contemptuous” and noted Nottingham showed no remorse.

In one instance he sent one of his victims a scene from the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction, which showed a person being shot in the head.

He can be very nasty, and has attacked many people over the last decade. The charges were laid were deemed representative of the worst examples, but that’s debatable, I have heard claims of despicable attacks (disclosure –  Nottingham has attacked me extensively including trying unsuccessfully to prosecute and imprison me, which was part vindictiveness, part an attempt to concoct a defence for the charges he faced).

All of Nottingham’s harassment victims have been granted permanent name suppression.

The Crown also alleged various other acts of harassment, including “following”, and in one case initiating a private prosecution.

I’m ware of private prosecutions against seven people or companies. These all failed, and after hundreds of thousands of dollars of court costs were awarded against him Nottingham with no attempt made to pay them Nottingham was adjudicated bankrupt in September 2018.

Nottingham, who represented himself, had also called former Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to give evidence and argued at his trial that his “articles” were covered by freedom of expression rights.

Slater has also been implicated in making use of the notorious attack website that Nottingham was found to have been the main user of. From his sentencing notes last year “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published. He makes the concession…that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website…” – see “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

Nottingham and Slater have been associated in a number of legal proceedings (including the attempted prosecution of myself and three others), but others have also been involved and aided and abetted, including his brothers Phillip and Antony, Marc Spring and Earle McKinney.

During his appeal, Nottingham argued his convictions should be quashed because the blog site was based overseas.

“You cannot be a party to a crime that never occurred in an overseas jurisdiction,” he said.

So he didn’t deny attacking and defaming people on the website, he just claimed he was immune from new Zealand law.

However, in his summing-up at the trial, Judge Down said: “Even if the main parts of a crime are committed abroad, if you do something to further that crime, and you have done it in New Zealand, that crime, the whole thing can be prosecuted in New Zealand.”

The Court of Appeal judges, Justice John Wild, Justice Susan Thomas and Justice Matthew Muir, agreed.

“We identify no error in that direction,” they said.

Slater’s “unambiguous position” was it was impossible to do anything online which did not leave “footprints everywhere”, the Court of Appeal decision reads.

Despite this, the Court of Appeal sided with the Crown’s position that the circumstantial evidence relied on was “very strong, if not overwhelming”.

It included text messages and internet history showing Nottingham was trying to obtain and research information about the Dudley case, particularly the names of the defendants.

While a police search of computers Nottingham had access to identified several key court documents, including the judge’s sentencing notes, witness statements and a witness list.

Seven hours before publication of the blog, Nottingham also wrote to the police officer heading the inquiry with the subject line: “Report I Am authoring on the Dudley killing”.

The Court of Appeal said much of the harassment material “could at best be described as virulent opinion with only a tangential connection to anything arguably true”.

In other words, Nottingham attacked people making false accusations and assertions, something I have seen a lot of in emails and court documents.

“As the Crown said in closing, the posts were littered with ‘hate-filled [invective]’ and were strongly misogynistic,” the judges said.

In calculating the sentence the Court of Appeal judges arrived at 31 months’ imprisonment – about 30 per cent higher than Judge Down’s end point.

However, in re-sentencing Nottingham, the trio of judges was “obliged” to take into account the three and a half months of home detention he had already served.

“Allowing a seven-month discount in this respect again brings Mr Nottingham’s sentence to a level where the court is obliged to consider home detention.”

If that had been the original sentence last year Nottingham would have ended up in prison.

The court quashed the existing, part-served, sentence and imposed a new 12 months’ home detention term, plus the 100 hours of community work for the suppression breach.

Nottingham’s special conditions also remained, and include not using any electronic device capable of accessing the internet without prior approval from a probation officer.

I take from this that the new 12 months home detention term begins from last week’s appeal judgment. And I presume there remains a further 6 month Internet ban after that, which would run through to early 2021.

At least this and his bankruptcy (after he took nearly a year to file a statement of affairs he is due to be discharged from bankruptcy on 11 September 2022) should limit his capability to attack and harass people online should also restrict his habit of vexatious litigation.

Nottingham and his gang of online thugs remain unrepentant and a lot of defamatory attack material remains online, but that poses more risks to him than anyone. I think at least one legal proceeding continues against Nottingham for posts done years ago.

Will Nottingham try to appeal this new sentence in the Supreme Court? On past behaviour he may like to try, but the Official Assignee may make that difficult if not impossible. I need to find out, because bizarrely suppression on aspects of the failed case against me continues until his case has reached a final resolution.

When more details are available online in the judgment I will do a post on that.


Many judgments with suppression involved or from the District are not published online, but here is a reference to some of those that are:

Nottingham v Maltese Cat Limited [2019] NZCA 246 (24 June 2019)

That is just back to 2015, Nottingham has a long legal history.

I think in all but one of those Nottingham lost his case.

There is one appeal he won, where a High Court judge supported a District Court judge ruling that Nottingham was in contempt of Court, but due to the judge not following procedures correctly the finding was set aside.

Whale Oil scuttled

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journalists no longer fed or repeated Whale Oil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From yesterday’s announcement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other coverage:

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

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

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

RNZ: Whaleoil ends after 15 years of political blogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiwiblog: Vale Whale Oil

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

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

Comments from other National supporters at Kiwiblog:

Tony Stuart

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

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

peterwn

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

Tony Stuart

Highly likely, I would think.

The Standard: Later Whaleoil

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

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


Legal facts you won’t see on Whale Oil:

 

“Bankruptcy is a joke” – Slater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is good to see this may be changing.

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

And: Whale Oil company put into liquidation after rearrangements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Official Assignee office is frankly tits at their work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As will I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newsroom: Lawyer: Let me off Whaleoil case

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

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

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

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

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

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

The judgment yesterday details the latest court saga:

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

The proceeding

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

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

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

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

The state of play up until this judgment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And to the end.

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

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

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

Mr Slater’s medical condition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’ll be back if he chooses to be.

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

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

Bloody amazing man.

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

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

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

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

A large bit of deceit at Whale Oil

Whale Oil continues to deceive their readers, most of whom are likely to know at least some of the truth despite repeated posts that defy reality. I think that SB (Juana Atkins) is unlikely to be totally ignorant of what numerous court judgments and media reports have revealed over the years, but SB continues to make claims that are at odds with what Cameron Slater and Whale Oil have done – and some of which she has been a party to.

Posted yesterday:  A Little Bit of Justice

As I write this post I am acutely aware of my bias.

She begins with a frank admission, but it all goes downhill from there.

My view of New Zealand’s justice system is totally skewed by the fact that people with deep pockets were able to drag my better half through the court system for more than 7 long years until he had a debilitating stroke from the stress at only 49 years old and was forced to declare himself bankrupt.

I think it’s fair to say that Slater brought a lot of stress upon himself. he had his stroke last October, when he had embroiled himself in the Jami Lee Ross saga, was dealing with finally having to front up in court in the seven year Blomfield defamation, had just been slammed by another judge in another ongoing defamation case – see More court costs for Slater and co-defendants in defamation entree, abandons appeal in another case – and had just got bad news in his defamation tit for tat versus Colin Craig – see Craig v Slater – the biggest losers.

When SB first fronted up about the stroke at Whale Oil in February she blamed reporters for causing stress:

Prior to this event Cam was perfectly fit and healthy with no predisposing stroke risk factors. Doctors have concluded that the cause of the stroke was entirely due to stress.

That doctor claim has been debunked in court. The claim of no predisposing stroke risk factors also looks questionable if not downright nonsense.

“7 long years” has to be referring to the defamation case against Slater, doggedly pursued by Matt Blomfield after Slater had run an attack campaign of over a hundred posts on Whale Oil based on the contents of a hard drive that Slater had obtained that contained a large amount of private, personal and business information – Judge Asher found the hard drive and other documents provided to Slater “appear to have been obtained illegitimately”.

Being right didn’t matter at the end of the day as it came down to who could last the longest.

‘Being right’ is a ludicrous claim. Slater was eventually found to have been wrong about many things, with a court finding in the end that he had no defence to false and defamatory  claims.

And it was Slater who dragged the proceedings out for so long, trying to avoid being held to account with many delays and failed appeals. Some of the delays and the copious amount of inadmissible ‘evidence’ can be put down to legal incompetence. He was helped by Dermot Nottingham, who has a very poor record in numerous legal proceedings. But some appears to have been deliberate tactics to wear down legal opponents and to inflict as much financial hardship as possible.  That eventually backfired, with both Slater and Nottingham now bankrupt over hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal costs.

NZ Herald:  Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater loses defamation case and gets told: ‘Your day will come’

Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater has lost one of the country’s longest running defamation cases after failing to put up any credible defence.

The judgment made public today saw Justice Paul Davison find in Blomfield’s favour, ruling out a defence from Slater after long delays and failures to meet legal requirements to defend a claim of defamation.

The new judgment came after a defamation hearing as due to start on October 8 was adjourned when Slater and lawyers arrived at court without a proper defence.

In total, Slater had entered or attempted to enter five statements of defence over the course of the case which all failed to meet the legal requirements for attempted defences of truth and of honest opinion.

Davison said Slater had been “afforded considerable leniency” to meet deadlines and get a proper defence before the court.

There had been “indulgence” to allow Slater to change his defence with one High Court judge even providing the blogger guidance as to how to prepare for the defamation hearing.

Davison said Slater’s attempts to change his defence and to introduce new pleadings was rightly seen as “a last-minute attempt to prevent the (Blomfield’s) claim from being heard and determined by the court”.

He said it was possible to see delay as Slater’s objective when seeking court hearings on issues such as a security for costs.

Davison said the statement of defence Slater had arrived with when the trial was due to start failed to identify the facts which would have been used to prove his blog posts were true.

Instead, large piles of evidence had been pointed to which, in a number of cases, relied on “a third party’s allegations about the plaintiff”.

And instead of providing a defence of honest opinion, Slater’s court filings instead repeated his inadequate defence of truth.

Davison said it wasn’t necessary to rule on the merits of the case because of the legal, technical flaws in Slater’s attempted defence.

“However, in my view the documents relied on by the defendants do not provide cogent support for the propositions and conclusions they seek to draw from them in relation to the defences of truth and honest opinion, or the bad reputation of the plaintiff.”

So the judge found that Slater had no defence for making false and defamatory claims. SB must be aware of this, but still claims that Slater was right and is somehow the victim in this.

Slater appealed, but that appeal has since been dropped. Damages are yet to be awarded, that won’t happen until next year.

Costs on pre-trial proceedings have been awarded against Slater a number of times over the years (that happens when you’re wrong, not right). The last of these were awarded recently  – BLOMFIELD v SLATER COSTS JUDGMENT [2019] NZHC 1203 [29 May 2019]

By memorandum dated 23 November 2018, Mr Blomfield (the plaintiff), seeks an award of costs against Mr Slater and Social Media Consultants Limited (collectively “the defendants”), in relation to several interlocutory matters.

SB (Atkins) was a director of Social Media Consultants Limited (now in liquidation) so must be aware of all of this.

The defendants were planning on relying on a large body of evidence covering many different issues, and I determined that almost all of it was inadmissible.

The plaintiff is entitled to costs and disbursements of $59,000.29 as set out in the annexed schedule.

The Human Rights tribunal also found that Slater and Whale Oil were wrong – Human Rights Tribunal slams Cameron Slater:

This blog can only be described as a calculated attack on Mr Blomfield and an extended assassination of his character.”

Even if Mr Slater was not party to any illegality, it seems likely the information was obtained illegally by Mr Slater’s sources.

[175.1] A declaration is made under s 85(1)(a) of the Privacy Act 1993 that Mr Slater interfered with the privacy of Mr Blomfield by disclosing personal information about Mr Blomfield contrary to IPP 11.

[175.2] An order is made under s 85(1)(b) of the Privacy Act 1993 restraining Mr Slater from continuing or repeating the interferences with Mr Blomfield’s privacy, or from engaging in, or causing or permitting others to engage in, conduct of the same kind as that constituting the interferences, or conduct of any similar kind.

[175.3] An order is made under s 85(1)(d) of the Privacy Act 1993 that Mr Slater erase, destroy, take down and disable any personal information about Mr Matthew John Blomfield as may be held on http://www.whaleoil.co.nz and on http://www.scribd.com. Mr Slater is to likewise erase, destroy, take down or disable any of Mr Blomfield’s personal information published by Mr Slater and which may be found on any other website or database which is within Mr Slater’s direction or control.

[175.4] Damages of $70,000 are awarded against Mr Slater under ss 85(1)(c) and 88(1)(c) of the Privacy Act 1993 for the humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings experienced by Mr Blomfield.

The full judgment [2019] NZHRRT 13 is here.


SB continued yesterday:

Oh, how I hate the old “public interest” line. The New Zealand media and Nicky Hager justified what they did to us as being in the public interest. The information they had obtained was stolen and included private and personal communications but even though it revealed zero wrongdoing (no one had broken any law) they decided it was in the “Public interest” to publish what had been written between friends with an expectation of privacy.

‘Zero wrongdoing’ is a joke.

I have always expressed concerns about hacking for political purposes, but there is no evidence that Slater was actually hacked (although it seems likely). There have been suggestions a whistle blower inside the Whale Oil camp may have at least aided the revelations.

There was certainly public interest in revealing that staff (Jason Ede at least) in the Prime Minister’s office colluded with Slater and used Whale Oil as a medium with which to run political attacks – some of the dirtiest of politics (Slater used to brag about how dirty he played).

There was also public interest in revealing that Whale Oil was being paid to run attacks on businesses, academics and people.

Perhaps SB just hates being found out.

She is also being very hypocritical about personal information and privacy, given:

  • Slater and Jason Ede using private information obtained from a Labour Party website by dubious means.
  • Slater’s attempt to hack The Standard (he had to admit he broke the law to get diversion).
  • Slater’s use of Blomfield’s private information.
  • The attempt to overturn the Auckland Mayoral election, and the trashing of Len Brown, using private and personal information.
  • The trashing of Colin Craig’s political career using private information in a breach of confidence.

There must be few people now who are still deceived by claims of innocence at Whale Oil, and there will be little sympathy for their repeated claims to be victims.

They are running the risk of ongoing self inflicted stress. They could deal with this if they front up with some honesty, as well as admissions and acceptance of the harm they have dumped on many people, but there is no sign of that happening.

High Court awards more costs against Slater, SMCL

Legal costs continue to mount for Cameron Slater and the company that ran Whale Oil, Social Media Consultants Limited. Slater has already filed for bankruptcy, and the company is in liquidation.

The latest costs of $59,000 are for pre-trial proceedings and do not include preparing for and conducting the trial held last October, nor damages, neither of which will be determined until next year.

Judgment: BLOMFIELD v SLATER COSTS JUDGMENT [2019] NZHC 1203 [29 May 2019]

[1] By memorandum dated 23 November 2018, Mr Blomfield (the plaintiff), seeks an award of costs against Mr Slater and Social Media Consultants Limited (collectively “the defendants”), in relation to several interlocutory matters.

[4] Following two results judgments on 27 September and 16 October 2018,2 on 26 October 2018, I released a judgment detailing my reasons for ruling in favour of the plaintiff on several interlocutory matters. The interlocutory matters dealt with in those judgments were:

(a) the defendants’ application for security for costs;

(b) the defendants’ application for leave to file a fourth amended statement of defence;

(c) the defendants’ application for leave to file a fifth amended statement of defence;

(d) the defendants’ application for an adjournment of the trial for a day to enable counsel to prepare the fifth amended statement of defence; and

(e) the plaintiff’s application challenging the admissibility of evidence proposed to be adduced by the defendants.

It was Slater’s fourth failed application for security of costs.

Blomfield’s lawyer Felix Geiringer has pointed out that the it was actually Slater’s ninth statement of defence document in the lengthy (over 6 years) lead up to the trial. From the book Whale Oil:

Not withstanding (Judge) Laang’s orders for timetabling – all pleadings by 13 July; all briefs of evidence by 13 August – throughout September Slater embarks on a massive exercise, filing enormous quantities of paperwork, including a new statement of defence, with dozens of amendments and additions, making it substantially different to the document around which Matt and Geiringer have been preparing for trial. It even includes a new defence of public interest; that Slater was doing important civic duty in exposing Matt’s activities.

The material flooding in is overwhelmingly dense, and it’s now two months after the date that wss to have been Slater’s last chance to file his defence.

From the judgment:

[21] The trial was originally due to start on 8 October 2018, and the defendants’ evidence was originally to be filed by 13 August 2018. Two briefs were filed on 21 September 2018, following an unless order made by Wylie J in a Minute issued on 13 September 2018. A notice under r 9.7(6) of the High Court Rules 2016 was also filed by the defendants to the effect that they intended to call 27 witnesses who had not provided briefs of evidence. That notice did not contain the necessary information required by r 9.7(6). The defendants also did not finalise their list of documents to be included in the common bundle until 6 October 2018, two days before the trial was due to commence.

[22] The plaintiff’s counsel says that he urgently assembled a team of five lawyers, who worked extensive hours in an effort to try and preserve the trial fixture. In addition to responding to the defendants’ interlocutory applications, they assembled an electronic casebook ready for a delayed start of the trial scheduled for 23 October
2018. They also prepared reply evidence, submissions and cross examination materials.

[25] For those reasons, I have decided to allow the plaintiff to recover the full amount of costs it seeks on a mixed 3A/3B/3C basis, except for the amount claimed for wasted preparation for trial.

[26] Having considered the disbursements the plaintiff also seeks, I have decided to allow the full amount of $10,160.29.

Result

[27] The plaintiff is entitled to costs and disbursements of $59,000.29 as set out in the annexed schedule.

That adds to the already substantial debts in Slater’s bankruptcy and Social media Consultant’s liquidation.

The only significant assets disclosed so far are the value of the Whale Oil website (whatever that may be), and several hundred thousand dollars of costs awarded to Slater and Social media Consultants – see Slater awarded costs v Craig, but well short of actual costs (with Slater’s legal bills in that proceeding far in excess of costs awarded).

This will take some time to work through, as the damages award is still pending, as is another defamation case Slater (and others) still face versus Sellman, Swinburn and Bradbrook – latest public judgment: SELLMAN v SLATER NO 7 [2019] NZHC 467 [18 March 2019]

Blomfield may benefit from Craig costs v Slater

Here’s a possible twist to Cameron Slater’s defamation cases – he has been awarded substantial costs in the Craig v Slater defamation case, but as I understand it those will be paid to the administrators of Slater’s bankruptcy and company liquidation. And part of available funds from them could end up being paid to Matt Blomfield, who is likely to be a major creditor for both.

While Blomfield has won substantial costs in various court proceedings, Slater appeared to negate all of that by declaring himself bankrupt in February.

This week the a High Court judge awarded costs to Slater in the defamation and counter defamation trial versus Colin Craig – see Slater awarded costs v Craig, but well short of actual costs.

These costs amount to several hundred thousand dollars. It’s a good bet that Craig will appeal the costs, but there are very limited options with that, costs are at the discretion of the trial judge and are difficult to overturn unless an error of law is made.

So where do these costs go? I believe not, as I had initially presumed, directly to Slater’s lawyers. Slater has been billed (indemnity costs according to the judgment) $564,730. That is substantially more than the costs awarded, but presuming that Slater has paid not paid all of his legal bills, that is a debt incurred by his lawyers.

Costs are not paid to the lawyers, they are paid to, in this case, the first defendant Slater, and the second defendant Social Media Consultants Limited (Slater’s company).

But with Slater being bankrupt any costs will go to the Official Assignee, and with Social Media Consultants being in liquidation costs related to the company will be under control of the liquidator.

Slater’s lawyers will have to line up with all other creditors to seek their share of what is available to be paid out. Blomfield is already a creditor as well.

But there could be another substantial debt to be added, incurred before bankruptcy and liquidation, but yet to be quantified.

An award of damages in the Blomfield versus Slater defamation is yet to be made. Despite the case already taking nearly seven years, I understand that the hearing on an award of damages won’t take place until next year, and it could take some time after that for the judge to make a decision.

The judgment on defamation between Craig and Slater was made on 19 October 2018, but the judgment on costs has just been made (6 June 2019).

The award of damages in Blomfield v Slater may not be known until 1-2 years from now. But as they were incurred before the bankruptcy and liquidation, and funds available will be apportioned to Blomfield and any other creditors like Slater’s lawyers. Even if Craig appeals costs that should be decided on by then.

The cost of clearing his name has been expensive. Blomfield’s legal battles with Slater have cost him many hundreds of thousands of dollars. It may turn out that costs awarded to Slater in Craig v Slater may pay some of that back via through costs and damages incurred in Blomfield v Slater & Social Media Consultants.

But this may be even more complicated. Slater is still facing defamation in the action bought against him by Sellman, Swinburn and Bradbrook. If costs (either way) or damages are awarded there it could also affect things.

Note – I’m not a lawyer or debt expert, I’m just trying to get my head around how this all works.

Gavin Ellis on Whale Oil book: “a harrowing slaga” but enduring long form journalism

RNZ media commentator Gavin Ellis applauded what Margie Thomson’s book Whale Oil

Margie Thomson’s investigation into the Whale Oil blog suggests that books may be the most enduring type of long-form journalism.

Transcript (from 6:22)

Great cover on that book, it’s not a whale so much as a sort of a monster of the deep coming up from the bottom of the book.

I think it was Margie who said that a whale was inappropriate, too nice to depict Slater and the dirt he is infamous for.

I think the monster comes from Matt Blomfield’s famous wrestler grandfather Lofty, who created an octopus hold.

Whale Oil by Margie Thomson really is a harrowing tale about a man, a businessman called Matt Blomfield and his decade long fight to clear his name after it was besmirched in a pretty serial fashion by Cameron Slater on the Whale Oil blog.

The book itself, I thought Finlay Macdonald summed it up perfectly, let me just read you one sentence of what he said. he said:

“Many readers will need a shower after a session with this book, and and Margie Thomson is to be applauded for her willingness to go where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen could feel at home.”

And that’s really, this is a, when I say it’s an awful book, it’s a very very good book. What it said is really quite awful about the ability of social media to basically destroy the reputation of an innocent person, and she sets about disproving virtually everything that appeared on the Whale Oil blog.

Of course Matt Blomfield has won defamation cases against Cameron Slater over it, but it’s a harrowing slaga, saga, but the thing that impressed me most I think is that it shows, with books like this it shows that this sort of excellent very long form journalism, you know the book chronicles a saga over ten years.

It may be that the most enduring form of journalism that we have.

The work that we do as daily journalists is ephemeral, you know it’s here one day and gone the next. I used to hate people saying that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish wrapper, but there’s an element of truth in that.

This sort of deep investigation, and of course she’s not alone, we have a number of other journalists who’ve written books about different subjects, Rebecca McPhee, absolutely, and I think that they do us a real service by having an enduring form of journalism.

Now of course books are not regarded as a news activity, which is a problem under the Privacy Act, which makes them vulnerable, more vulnerable than a daily journalist would be.

Whale Oil was carefully vetted by lawyer Stephen Price to avoid possible legal actions.

Even with proposed changes to the Privacy Act I don’t think that this form of journalism enjoys the same protection as news activities do.

However books have an advantage of time to check out their accuracy and reduce risks.

But nonetheless I really commend not only this book but the whole process of committing to books.

This sort of long form investigative journalism, it really is great reading but also the lessons in them remain for the future, and that’s something in daily journalism we’re in danger of losing, particularly with the avalanche of material that we have bombarding us every day that is so ephemeral and this sort of anchors it with a degree of permanence. let’s hope so anyway.

It’s true that newspapers are published and sold one day, and disappear off the newsagents’ shelves by the end of the day. Books remain for sale on bookshelves for weeks.

But publishing news online means that it does endure far more than it used to. It can be just a Google search away. Enduring news – and blog posts – provide a lot of readily available research material for books like Whale Oil.

The difference with well researched and written books like Whale Oil though is that they collate and filter and edit a vast amount of material – and there is a vast amount of material in the Matt Blomfield story.

One of the successes of Whale Oil is that Margie took a huge amount of information and made it interesting and readable, while putting on record an awful campaign of attack that took place over many years.

It was, as Ellis says, a harrowing Slater saga, or saga.

Slater awarded costs v Craig, but well short of actual costs

Cameron Slater has been awarded substantial costs in the defamation case between him and Colin Craig, but the amount awarded is well short of actual costs claimed. As Slater is now bankrupt his lawyers may be the ones to suffer the shortfall. Craig will also be substantially out of pocket.

Slater had been found to have defamed Craig, but as Craig had been found to have then ruined his only reputation no damages were awarded.

Summary

Costs judgment in defamation proceeding Craig v Slater [2018] NZHC 2712. 3B costs allocated to Slater as the successful party. Craig succeeded only in proving that he did not place his press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, under financial pressure to sleep with him and that he did not sexually harass another woman. Craig failed on all other significant pleaded causes of action, including particularly the principal allegation that he had sexually harassed Ms MacGregor. Costs award to Slater reduced by 10 percent to reflect Craig’s limited success.
The Court held that costs should lie where they fall in respect of the counterclaim. Craig protected by response to an attack privilege, but Slater succeeded in proving the statements about his journalistic integrity were not true. Because it is difficult to identify precisely those costs incurred by Slater in respect of the counterclaim, a discount of 10 percent applied to reflect those costs lying where they fall.

Mr Slater’s claim for indemnity costs failed because the Court accepted that Mr Craig did not know he had sexually harassed Ms MacGregor when bringing the proceeding, due largely to his oblivious and self-involved perception of their professional and personal relationship. He therefore did not bring the proceeding vexatiously or frivolously.

Final disposition of costs awards as follows: first, Slater shall not receive costs for any interlocutory steps taken in respect of the counterclaim; costs in respect of pretrial preparation and trial appearances reduced by 10 percent to reflect the aspect of those costs expended in relation to the counterclaim lying where they fall; 90 percent of the remaining sum payable by Mr Craig to reflect the limited success he had on the substantive claim.

The judgment details who succeeded and who failed in the defamation claim and counter claim, and then explained the costs calculations.

Claim for indemnity costs

[56] Mr Slater seeks indemnity costs of $564,730 or, in the alternative, scale costs of $356,400 on a category 3C basis.

Indemnity costs were turned down because Craig didn’t think he was guilty of harassing MacGregor.

[75] It follows that I do not consider Mr Slater is entitled to indemnity costs against Mr Craig. Regardless of what I have said about his relative lack of success in the proceeding overall, I do not think Mr Craig acted vexatiously or improperly in pursuing his claims or resisting the counterclaim. He did not believe that he was guilty of sexually harassing Ms MacGregor. That position may seem wholly unreasonable to many, but it needs to be considered in the light of Ms MacGregor’s failure to protest, as explicable as that may have been.

Category C scale costs are the largest scale costs that can be awarded, although substantially less than indemnity ()actual) costs. But the judge awarded category 2 costs, which are about two thirds of category 3 – because of the lack of detail given in the lawyers’ invoices.

[83] For Mr Slater, Mr Henry has not explained why each, or indeed any, of the steps involved in the proceeding took a comparatively large amount of time. Rather, he asks the Court to undertake a blanket assessment for banding. As has been made clear by the Court of Appeal, that approach is not desirable. Mr Slater has provided the Court with the monthly invoices charged to him by Mr Henry. However, the invoices simply set out the total hours of work completed by Mr Henry (and Ms Foster) in each month. They do not specify how much time was spent on which steps in the proceeding. I am unable, therefore, to assess whether the time allocated to a particular step by band C might be reasonable by reference to the actual time spent by counsel for Mr Slater on that step.

So due to invoicing laxness that cuts the scale costs back by something like a hundred thousand dollars.

There were more deductions.

[85] The saga that is this case needs to be brought to an end. I do not think it is desirable to add more delay by requesting further information from Mr Slater. The principles I have discussed should be applied as well as they can be to the material provided. On that basis, I direct that the award of costs to Mr Slater is to be calculated as follows:

(a) Mr Slater shall not receive costs for any interlocutory step taken in pursuing the counterclaim against Mr Craig.

(b) Because of the difficulty in identifying from the information provided how much of the preparatory work for which costs are sought under item 33 in Schedule 3 related to the counterclaim, I direct that the costs claimed under item 33 shall be discounted by 10 per cent.

(d) Because of the difficulty in identifying with precision how much of the trial time was occupied by the counterclaim, I direct that the costs of both counsel under items 34 and 35 in Schedule 3 shall be discounted by 10 per cent.

(e) A further deduction is to be made to reflect the limited success that Mr Craig enjoyed on the substantive claim. On that account, the amount of costs payable by Mr Craig shall be reduced to 90 per cent of all costs and disbursements.

I don’t know how that all works out but it looks to be much less than half the $564,730 claimed.

There are still substantial costs for Craig to pay  (he could appeal them). But the shortfall from actual costs will be greater. As Slater is bankrupt that may be bills that his lawyers cannot recover (I don’t know how the timing of the award and the bankruptcy affects things).

Everyone seems have lost here, after several years of litigation after a very public online spat.

Decision

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