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

PDF document icon SCC_0.pdf — PDF document, 196 KB (201019 bytes)

 

Sprung – damaging attack tactics of Marc Spring

Many years of attacks against Matt Blomfield have been detailed in the book Whale Oil launched last week. Most focus was on Cameron Slater, but it also shows how involved Marc Spring was in a sustained campaign against Blomfield.

Two days before a hearing in the defamation trial Blomfield versus Slater last October, Spring sent an email to Blomfield’s lawyer, Felix Geiringer:

Perhaps a thought: when it goes to trial, the reporters will be there all day, every day, as the scores of witnesses give evidence against your client, so your client will be able to read all about himself for weeks on end in the mainstream media. That should leave a great footprint for all to see for the rest of his days. That will end any chance of a job or company ever being successful for your client. Oh the notoreity!!!

That brazenness is typical of Spring. And his obsession with trying to destroy Blomfield’s life. The book details how the campaign against Blomfield included extensive efforts to destroy any businesses, business relationships and employment opportunities.

Obsessed with attack that Spring and Slater thought they could use the trial to continue their attacks on Blomfield. But they put so much of their focus on attack they missed the boat on defence.

The trial judge ruled that Slater had no defence. All the attacks and claims and accusations he and Spring had made against Blomfield were distortions, misinformation and lies.  The judge saw through their tactics, refused to allow them to attack, and threw out Slater’s hapless and hopeless defence.

In social media, especially when there is a huge power imbalance like what they had with Whale Oil, attack can work in lieu of a defence. But when it came to the crunch in court the attack tactics failed. As they should have. Slater initiated an appeal of the decision, but after spinning the courts along for a few more months he withdrew the appeal as his lawyers deserted him.

In the years before this, despite a court agreement not to attack Blomfield, despite a restraining order, Spring kept attacking Blomfield wherever he could find an outlet. The worst of these attacks were on the Lauda Finem website. Last year Dermot Nottingham was convicted of five counts of criminal harassment and two of breach of suppression (a representative tip of an attack iceberg) and was found to be the principal participant in Lauda Finem, which in court he maintained was outside new Zealand law.

A lot of the attacks on Blomfield there, via posts and comments, look to me like they have at least the input of Spring. Multiple identities support each other in comments – and this looks suspiciously like Spring’s style and tactics, and he has proven motives.

He tried similar here at Your NZ. See: The many identities of Marc Spring and The many identities of Marc Spring

THE TYRANT (Spring) 8 May 2015:

Its just days away until another Blomfield scam gets made public. The guy is a recidivist criminal with no thought for any of his actions, or the consequences he leaves for people. Someone close to me just got taken for a ride – post his bankruptcy he just continues on and on, telling lies, acting like a thug, bragging about being a gang associate, and just being a general piece of shit. How many of his lawyers have complaints against them???? i was told 2 from one firm have multiple issues they face from working for this scum bag – i am betting soon multiple people will face multiple charges. The guy i was introduced to seemed pretty straight up, and a “take no shit” person. If more like him stood up to scammers like Blomfield the place would be all the better for it. Luckily my mate has met up with this person and he is going to facilitate the story becoming public.

Now we know that Blomfield has been vindicated, and Spring is totally discredited. This is typical of him – he repeatedly accuses others of doing what he has himself been doing.

Shagger (Spring) 5 May 2015 referring to Lauda Finem:

Posts are long, informative, pull no punches, and link often with legal speak of a well versed lawyer, or knowledge of the local laws. Or in some cases our lack of law. They are neither left nor right, but in my view slightly left at times. They have also been HIGHLY critical of Cameron Slater at times and certainly seem to not share much he says – with the exception of the Blomfield issue. Blomfield has unwittingly become the man who has opened up the rules surrounding the blog space. His case of defamation against Slater is also doomed to failure. I would not be surprised if Blomfield is the whipping boy for Prentice and co as they are using him to get to Slater.

– “link often with legal speak of a well versed lawyer, or knowledge of the local laws” is laughable. A long line of failures in court show how poorly versed Nottingham is in law. An attempted diversion from involvement for Slater, he was criticised in some posts but he was also complicit at Lauda Finem.

THE TYRANT (Spring) 8 May 2015:

@shagger – funny you mention the Thompson / Torensen dicks. I read the “Pet Detective” post at Lauda Finem today – the picture showing the dad with that ape had me in fits of laughter and tears rolling down my face with the “Reverse Darwinism” line. Great humour to say the least and actually quite uncanny the resemblance

I found that often here Spring was responding to his own comments under different identities to try to make it appear there was support for his accusations.

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to Hustler (Spring) 8 May 2015:

he sure is well known as a scamming fraudster – just ask ANYONE who has done business with him. i see back in the day Slater was using Blomfields own emails as evidence – that being the case then if its your own emails it can only be what Slater wrote. Blomfield could always provide a different set if they existed or provide his side of the story – but alas i guess what Slater said was in fact 100% true so now Blomfield continues to further his lies to try and make it go away. does anyone know what happened to the guy who attacked Blomfield in his home? something tells me it was a set up and that the DNA on the mask worn was not actually meant to be there

Slater misused Blomfield’s emails, he cherry picked them, he misrepresented them, he embellished meanings to a ridiculous degree. There are a number of examples in the book. At trial the judge rejected them. All of them.

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to Shagger (Spring) 15 May 2015:

oh how great that would be! Blomfield could turn up and serve another baseless defamation tort and waste 3 more years going round in circles trying to clear his dogshit name. Oh wait he ain’t got the nads for that. I suppose Blomfield will be at [deleted] 10 year orgy. A wankfest of epic proportions! [deleted], Blomfield, [deleted] and all the dodgy gaggle of layers – [deleted], [deleted], [deleted], [deleted], [deleted] – what a gang! bang !

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to BUCK WIT (Spring) 23 May 2015:

Pretty sad state of affairs by the Parole Board and the NZ Police force. This guy needs Preventative Detention. When reading the report thats attached to that link even the writer seems to be having some difficulty in defining the subject as to who he might prey on next. Appears to not just be little kids.

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to THE GRIM RAPER (Spring) 23 May 2015:

Busy allowing the Court, Cops and Parole Board time to come up with a story to cover their arses for allowing what happened to happened. Heads need to roll.

There are many more like this. I think that anyone familiar with comments and posts at Lauda Finem will recognise this style and content, especially some of the latter posts that suggest someone with an altered or ill mind is involved.

These are more extreme examples, but I think that it’s Fair to suspect that Spring used these same multi-personality tactics at Whale Oil, Kiwiblog, and elsewhere – I believe there is evidence he was also active in the comments sections of news sites.

The book Whale Oil shows that the attacks on Blomfield over many years were defamatory, deplorable, false and often extreme. The obsession with ‘fucking over’, and the tactics Marc Spring used, were a major factor in causing Blomfield and his family (and others) significant hardship – and from what I have experienced and heard this is continuing, albeit with much more limited opportunities.

He has complained here about his own life being adversely affected. He has blamed me and others for what are self inflicted problems.

It’s not just those who he has targeted who have suffered – this dire situations Nottingham and Slater now find themselves are in part self inflicted, but Spring has contributed sign to their predicaments.

I hope Spring seeks and gets help before he does more damage.


See also: Statement from Matt Blomfield on ‘Whale Oil’ book

Statement from Matt Blomfield on ‘Whale Oil’ book

Statement from Matt Blomfield (posted on Facebook):


On Tuesday last week we had the launch for the book Whale Oil by Margie Thomson. It was an incredible and humbling experience. About three hundred people turned up. My wife and kids attended and afterwards they talked about what an amazing night they had with other friends and family.

This weekend with the dust starting to settle I looked back at the week that followed the launch and I felt uncomfortable. It was a busy week with media appearances and messages of support, and naturally there was a big focus on the details of my protracted battle against Cameron Slater. What got me thinking, though, was a book review on Newsroom by Finlay Macdonald – not his words but the image at the top of the page: Cameron Slater knocked out in the first round of his boxing match with Jesse Rider. He looks broken. I needed to beat Cameron in court in order to win back my reputation. It was never my intention to break the man.

Cameron Slater has had his struggles in life. He’s had business failures. He struggled with mental illness; he lost his home. More recently he has had health issues. It follows that my mind takes me to a place of sympathy for Slater. He has a wife and kids just like me; he has tried to succeed, just like me. I feel increasingly concerned at the tone of some of the comments about him that are appearing online. I know what it’s like first hand to be ridiculed online, to be bullied and it affects more than just the individual. It flows through to that person’s friends and family.
Slater is not well. His attacks against me are not the actions of a right thinking individual. He needs help.
I’m concerned that some of the coverage given to the publication of Margie’s book gives the impression this book is a tit-for-tat exercise. It’s not, and that’s clear to anyone reading it. Yes, it’s the story of my long struggle to rescue my reputation and get justice, but
it’s about much more than a fight between two individuals. It is about our changing world and a system that needs to change so that our children are protected. It introduces readers to some incredible individuals and shows that even during the hardest of times good people will stand up and be counted. It’s about never giving up, and that sometimes the decision to fight can come from a place of love, compassion and family. Finally, it’s about people as a whole and how we choose to live not only on the internet but as a society.

The people who have read the book have all had the same reaction; a feeling of surprise. It follows that those same people have expressed to me what an important book this is and how much it impacted them as individuals.

I am now going to focus on my family, my health, my education and hopefully move past this. My story has been told.

I hope that people will move past attacking what can be only be described as a damaged individual. Let’s put him where he belongs, in the footnote of history, and move on to talking about the important issues he only symbolizes.

 

Newsroom review: Whale Oil

Finlay Macdonald has a very good review of the Maggie Thomson written book on Matt Blomfield book, Whale Oil – Where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen go

Many readers will feel like a shower after a session with this book, and Thomson is to be applauded for her willingness to go where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen could feel at home. As she explains early on, her book was born from a footnote to Nicky Hager’s 2014 bestseller Dirty Politics, arguably the book that marked the beginning of the end for Slater by laying bare his methods and the scabrous demi-monde he inhabited.

Calling their vendetta “Operation Bumslide” (a lexicon of vulgar and puerile Slaterisms would make a short book in its own right), these detractors harnessed the then-popular Whale Oil machine to depict Blomfield as a fraudster, a thief, a liar, a pornographer and a lunatic. Strange and sinister things happened along the way, including a violent home invasion and assault, which was at the very least worthy of far greater scrutiny in the context of Blomfield’s other travails than the police gave it.

Being from the same publisher and with an admiring foreword by Hager, you could be forgiven for thinking Whale Oil might represent one dip too many into the same dank well of character assassination, paid hit jobs and vicious mockery of undeserving victims. It’s not. Rather, Thomson has constructed an elegant psychological study of both main protagonists, equally obsessional in their own ways, locked in a kind of death-embrace from which only one can emerge the winner, but which will leave neither unscathed.

The term Kafkaesque is over-used and mis-used, but Blomfield’s predicament surely meets the criteria. Defamed, denigrated and physically attacked, he was nevertheless incapable of defending himself through any normal channel. The police, the courts, the media, the bureaucracy all live down to Kafka’s vision of a system designed to serve only itself and its own absurd purpose. The more Blomfield struggles to extricate himself from this web of perfidy and stupidity, the more he appears fixated and vexatious to indifferent observers. The more he professes his sanity, the more insane he appears.

It really is a wonder that Blomfield didn’t go completely raving mad – or just give up, as so many of Slater’s targets did.

I think that many of Slater’s targets will be grateful that Blomfield had the determination and tenacity to see this through, as far as it has come at least – a successful defamation after over six years of delays and attempts at avoidance by Slater, and of course the book detailing it all.

But this shouldn’t be the end of it. It would be worth following through with more holding to account. There are serious unanswered questions about inaction by the police on a number of occasions, including doing nothing about attack death treats that came very close to a murder being committed.

And accomplices of Slater should be nervous about being held to account for their actions too.

When truth finally does arrive, albeit on crutches and with a bandaged head, it’s almost an anticlimax. Having gamed the courts for years, delaying and prevaricating (for much of the time continuing to gleefully defame and otherwise harass Blomfield), Slater has nothing to offer; no proof whatsoever that anything he posted was true, fair or reasonable. So he loses. But the outcome is less than our aforementioned primitive instincts for story might demand. Slater is a bankrupted wretch, those who conspired with him are untouched by the verdict.

Some are untouched, like Warren Powell, who (the book claims) probably paid Slater at least in part for the protracted attacks on Blomfield, and also Amanda Easterbrook, who has kept a low profile.

Others have been affected to an extent. Dermot Nottingham is now bankrupt as a result of court costs incurred after multiple unsuccessful private prosecutions, some related to the Blomfield saga. He is also currently serving a home detention sentence which includes a ban on him using the internet, but remarkably Blomfield wasn’t included in the prosecution of him on five charges of criminal harassment.

Marc Spring has been at least as involved in abuse, false claims, defamation and harassment as Slater and so far has avoided court action against him – more due to police inaction than anything. He continues to attack Blomfield, although his major online options are now limited. He conducted sustained attacks against Blomfield in 2015-2016 when Blomfield had a restraining order against him, but the police decided not to take action.

But Spring has been affected. His credibility, his employment, his business affairs and his family have all been victims of his obsession with trying to destroy others, this has become more a self destruction.

What animates the likes of Slater and the haters he attracts remains a mystery, other than that they lack normal empathy and a sense of decency.

This whole affair is bad enough on it’s own, but there are very important wider issues.

That they are enabled by the failings in our systems and our souls is more the point, and this necessary but unpleasant book should be required reading for anyone interested in reforming the media-legal nexus for the realities of the attention economy. That will be too late for Matt Blomfield, but at least he’s finally out of the shit, while those he wrestled are still in it.

Blomfield’s long fight has finally managed to prove his attackers were malicious and almost totally wrong, and he himself has won back some of what was taken from him. The book has resulted in almost universal sympathy, admiration and respect – as far as I have seen the only exception being a small number of Slater apologists at Kiwiblog (I was accused of hate speech there yesterday for being critical of Slater and his accomplices).

Things should get better now for Blomfield. He will never get back everything that was taken from him, he and his family will bear the scars of vicious attacks online and physically,

The same can’t be said for the trolls and the spiritually misshapen, who still claim to be victims (as bullies do when someone stands up to them), have shown no remorse, and show no sign of recovering from their self inflicted miserable situations.

The many identities of Marc Spring include…

Here are some pseudonyms that I believe have been identified as being used by Marc Spring in various media and social media forums.

  • ThreeMonkeys
  • SHAFT
  • The Ape
  • NOT MIKE
  • 4077th
  • Gweg pwesland
  • pimp
  • phillip
  • DaveG
  • slicedcheesesandwich
  • Justice4Matt
  • BLOMFIELDS EX BIZ PARTNER
  • Harry ‘Gold Star’ Stottle
  • Harry Stottle
  • to HELL in a handbasket
  • The Assasin
  • David Jessop
  • CHEEKY DARKY
  • the MONKEYS RAINCOAT
  • Elton
  • Samantha Hays
  • The Barber
  • They Walk, they talk, they harm
  • THE PRIEST
  • Hannibal Lecters Psychologist
  • Inspector Clouseau
  • Rod
  • I HAVE THE HARD DRIVE
  • MARC NEVER FORGETS CUNT
  • I AM OWED TOO
  • THE WORST NIGHTMARE
  • When dies Bankrupt = Businessman
  • Jean
  • Bus Driver
  • LORD DONKEY
  • Harvey Specter
  • TYRANT/THE TYRANT
  • HUSTLER
  • BUCK WIT
  • Shagger
  • Gimp of Greenhithe
  • Spiderman wants his mask back
  • RAMBONE OF RAMBONIA
  • Reaper Crew
  • Gay Mo
  • Rolf Harris
  • Bill Brown
  • Reaper Crew

I expect there have been many more.

A number of those are familiar to me.

An H Stottle commented on Lauda Finem on 3 March 2017. On the same thread there is also a Cock Goblin comment.

Cock Goblin also comments on a post on 8 January 2017 – that’s on a post that sounds to me like it was also written by Spring.

Reaper Crew rang a bell, and sure enough, on Lauda Finem:

SHAFT (aka Spring) also comments on that thread.

This is very familiar to me. The rest of that latter comment published an article from NZ Herald that Dermot Nottingham, aided by Marc Spring, Cameron Slater and Earle McKinney went on to run a private prosecution against the Herald (sort of, they charged the wrong company), Allied Press, myself and Lynn Prentice. They also demanded that the article was taken down, claiming it could prevent  fair trial that Nottingham was facing, while it remained on Lauda Finem right through to his trial (and is still online).

The following comment:

Charges were indeed filed within 4 months, but the prosecution was a vexatious mess and costs awarded against Nottingham contributed to him being declared bankrupt.

Background to the APN/Prentice charges is detailed in a failed appeal: NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 596 [29 March 2018]

As well as being bankrupt Nottingham is currently serving home detention after being convicted of criminal harassment and suppression breaches where he was found to be the main force behind Lauda Finem (an appeal will be heard against the sentence and also for a stronger sentence later this month).

Slater has also fallen foul of court costs after a length defamation proceeding with Matthew Blomfield and has also now bankrupt.

Earle McKinney has managed to escape most consequences, but put his company Advantage Associates Limited into liquidation last year. Nottingham had been his sole employee until he had an accident in April 2016.

Spring has also escaped major consequences – so far.

Spring was still active under different pseudonyms this week. One he has been using at Your NZ for several months is Bill Brown.

The many identities of Marc Spring

The launch this week of the book Whale Oil understandably put Cameron Slater and his dirty blogging at the centre of attention. But he has been in some cases paid and aided, abetted and used by a number of accomplices.

Someone who has been closely associated with Slater in his sustained attacks on Matt Blomfield is an ex-business associate of Blomfield’s, Marc Spring. If anything he has done more for longer than Slater.

One way Spring has kept attacks going against Blomfield (and others including myself) is his use of many identities (pseudonyms) in his online activities.

How many identities? That’s hard to quantify, but it’s many. my guess is well over a hundred identities, if not many more.

Spring has used multiple identities to make it appear as if there is wider support for his claims, his false and misleading information, and his mistruths or lies.

From Whale Oil (the book):

..,an increasing number of nasty and inflammatory statements about Matt started  appearing on news sites and blogs, under many different names, this giving the appearance of many people hating Matt and saying he was dangerous and damaging.

It was at this point Dunedin blogger Pete George inadvertently poked the bear. Noticing a number of nasty comments about matt on his blog he allowed Matt – with whom he had no previous contact – a right of reply.

As a result George found himself targeted on Twitter, tagged on @laudafinem and @marcspring…

Things got much worse for George, who found himself embroiled in a length and expensive legal action taken against him by Dermot Nottingham. Marc Spring also served documents on him, as well as suggesting to George that he could be ‘fucked over’ as someone else had been on Whale Oil.

Following a few clues, George ‘began’ to think about things that could be related’.

In September 2015 he wrote to Matt to let him know what he’d discovered: a list of 47 aliases, all emanating from digital addresses related to Marc Spring.

(Excerpts from the book)

That number of identities astonished me (but it isn’t that many names, it was also included many email address identifications). They had started in January 2015, so over about eight months.

He used more since then, especially over the next few months when there was a major attempt to disrupt and discredit Your NZ. He continues too use multiple pseudonyms here. How many in all? I haven’t counted. Fifty, sixty, seventy perhaps. And that’s just here.

One common technique is posting a comment under one pseudonym, and then replying under one or more other pseudonyms that agree with or add to the original comment, trying to give an appearance of wider support and agreement for his accusations and attacks.

I’ve also seen similar methods used at Lauda Finem. It’s quite possible most comments there are by Spring and associates trying to give the appearance of credibility and support for the outlandish posts there. I believe that Spring has also either written or at least contributed to posts at Lauda Finem. Some of the later ones sounded deranged.

Spring has close associations with Dermot Nottingham, who was found last year by a jury and a judge to have been the main person behind Lauda Finem (Slater also has links to that website).

I also believe that Spring has probably been using multiple identities at Whale Oil, and I believe at Kiwiblog – there was a comment there this week that sounded very Spring-like to me.

It is likely he has used other identities elsewhere in social media.

Spring was blatantly and openly active on Twitter, often associating with @laudafinem in harassment of me, but has now tried to scrub that. But he has mostly acted anonymously.

It is hard to know whether Spring operated all these identities himself, or whether he had help. I know that Nottingham also used multiple identities, but they were identifiably different.

This use and abuse of pseudonyms has not only been a means of attack, abuse, harassment and defamation, they have also at times been done in breach of court orders.

It’s hard to imagine how Spring managed to manage so many identities, but to an extent that gave him away – he often tried to disguise himself when establishing a new identity, but eventually revealed the same old style and tricks. It became a giveaway when he inevitably attacked Blomfield. The manner in which he does this has become very familiar.

In ways Spring’s deception has been quite sophisticated, either carefully planned or from a lot of experience. But he couldn’t keep disguising his motives, which were to attack Blomfield, and anyone he considered a threat to his campaign of harassment.

This multi-identity deception is an abuse of the use of pseudonyms, and it makes things more awkward for the many people who legitimately and reasonable use pseudonyms (or more to the point, a pseudonym).

It means one has to be sceptical of online claims and campaigns. With experience it becomes easier to spot the pseudonym abusers, but only if you’re looking for it.

The use of multiple pseudonyms or switched pseudonyms is largely under control here at Your NZ. It happens, but I usually know when it happens.

Whale Oil in particular cannot be trusted. While I think it’s likely Spring has used multiple identities there it also looks to me like it is a common practice there – not of ordinary users, but of blog management. A few years ago Pete Belt was sprung giving a favourable review to  book Slater had published using an alias. Slater and Spring have worked together so it is not a surprise that they might use the same sort of deceptions.

From my experience and observations Spring has to be the king of fake online identities. And he is still at it.

Accusations of bullying for posting about Slater

The ‘Whale Oil’ book about the attacks on Matthew Blomfield by Cameron Slater and others over many years was all over the news yesterday – online, in newspapers, on TV and radio.

I posted bout it here, and also posted a comment about it at Kiwiblog.

David Garrett dumped on me in a number of comments, before eventually admitting:

PG: Thank you, I was unaware of all this…and for the record I wasn’t playing dumb; I had never heard of this Matt Blomfield before this morning (my participation in social media is strictly limited to this blog).

So he jumped on me without knowing anything about the topic, informed only by Kiwiblog. Good grief. This sort of attack the messenger stuff is common at Kiwiblog (and on blogs and social media generally).

Tony Stuart joined the messenger attack with this comment:

Pete – have you ever stopped to consider that your own long-running campaign against Slater is in itself a form of bullying?

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

My Slater/WO posts have sometimes been questioned here as well.

I have often considered what to post about Slater and how often to post about him. I don’t do them often, usually when there is something in the news or the courts related to him or Whale Oil.

I find it quite ironic that Tony has suggested I may be bullying Slater, by posting about something prominent in the news, about a book that details arguably the worse case of online bullying in New Zealand history.

So is it bullying to post and comment about bullying?

Perhaps it depends on what your definition of bullying is. It seems to be like the ‘hate speech’ argument doing the rounds. It is claimed that labelling something as hate speech is a way of trying to shut down free speech. If you hate the misuse of ‘hate speech is it hate speech to talk about it?

I not that Tony was only critical of me for talking about Slater’s bullying, His only comment on Slater was:

Am I defending Slater? No. He made his bed, and now has to lie in it.

He seems to want the covers pulled up over Slater’s bed.

This is despite the fact that Slater has attacked and bullied extensively over the past decade. He often bragged about being a bully.

Slater used to relentlessly post about targets of his bullying.

Whale Oil still repeatedly attacks and criticises politicians and journalists – they include attacks on journalists in their ‘dictionary’, and also groups of people like Muslims, lefties, media.

Is it bullying to post about bullies and bullying?

This isn’t the first time Tony has attacked me for posting about Slater at Kiwiblog. Is he bullying me? He certainly seems to be trying to get me to shut up about Slater.

Tony, Whale Oil continues to criticise and attack (some may call that bullying). While Slater no longer posts or comments under his own name his obvious and input is obvious.

He has bullied hundreds of people, many of them to a serious degree – Blomfield is probably the worst example, as detailed in the ‘Whale Oil’ book, but that’s debatable. Slater has deliberately tried to destroy political careers. I think he is a proven liar – the court ruling he had no defence in the Blomfield defamation case supports this.

There are unresolved issues. Slater appears to unremorseful and unrepentant, despite the damage he has done to people’s lives.

He filed for bankruptcy, but Whale Oil continues (it shifted sideways onto a new web address), presumably the Whale Oil revenue continues. Slater promoted the Whale Meat business as his enterprise – that has also been shifted sideways and continues to advertise in Whale Oil. These are ongoing issues.

Tony seems to think that mentioning things like this is bullying. Perhaps he should try telling that to Blomfield and his family. To Len Brown. To Bill English. To Simon Bridges. To Jacinda Ardern. To Golriz Ghahraman (actually Tony tells things to Ghaharam a bit but I presume he doesn’t see that as bullying).

Slater got away with a mass of massive bullying for years, in part because people like Tony supported him, and continue to support him indirectly by trying to shut down any criticism of Slater.

This is how bullies keep getting away with bullying. People aid and abet, they make excuses, they play diversion.

If Tony thinks it is bullying to point things like this out then so be it.