Craig wins defamation appeal against no show Slater

Colin Craig has had significant success in an appeal against against the judgment in tit for tat defamation judgment versus Cameron Slater and also the comopany that owned the Whale Oil blog, Social Media Consultants Limited (now in liquidation).

Slater didn’t attempt to challenge the appeal – he has tried to avoid being involved in several court proceedings since having a stroke and declaring himself bankrupt, but courts have found he is still liable for what he has done on his Whale Oil Blog.

The Court of Appeal has found that the High Court judgment was incorrect in not awarding damages and costs to Craig, who had been partly successful (and Slater’s counter claims failed). Further, it has been found that the seriousness of the defamation was more serious than originally found.

In a lengthy and comprehensive judgment of some 249 pages, delivered in
October 2018, Toogood J held that Mr Slater was liable in defamation for two publications: that Mr Craig had placed Ms MacGregor under financial pressure to sleep with him, and that he had sexually harassed at least one other victim. The other publications were either not defamatory, or protected by defences of truth, honest opinion or responsible public interest communication. The Judge declined to award Mr Craig damages: his reputational loss was caused almost entirely by his own actions, and a declaration would be adequate vindication.

Mr Slater’s counterclaim was dismissed on the basis Mr Craig’s pamphlet was a justifiable response to an attack made by Mr Slater and thus protected by qualified privilege.

In a separate costs judgment, itself of some 33 pages, the Judge held that, as
Mr Craig’s defamation claim had largely failed, costs would on balance be awarded to Mr Slater, albeit on a reduced basis. On the counterclaim he held each party succeeded and failed in more or less equal measure. Costs on the counterclaim would lie where they fell.

But this has been overturned.

Mr Craig appeals the judgments below on the basis that the Judge erred in
seven respects.

Mr Slater is now a bankrupt, and his company is in liquidation. Neither
participated in the appeal.

A lawyer was appointed by the court to act as a contradictor – in effect to sort of argue for Slater, or at least against Craig.

Five challenges of the appeal failed, but eight succeeded.

The Court found that Slater had posted false accusations and exaggerations, something a number of cases and inquiries have also found.

Slater is back blogging again at the Whale Oil replacement, The BFD, and is again making assertions and insinuations attacking various people. He also usually doesn’t provide any evidence – promises of evidence in the past often were not kept. He is not reliable or credible wherever ‘the evidence is in the mail’.

Did the High Court err by failing to award Mr Craig damages?

As we have noted, the Judge held Mr Slater liable in defamation for two
statements: that Mr Craig had placed Ms MacGregor under financial pressure to sleepwith him, and that he had sexually harassed at least one other victim. But he declined to award Mr Craig damages, reasoning that Mr Craig’s reputational loss was caused almost entirely by his own actions, and a declaration would be adequate vindication.

We are satisfied that the Judge erred in not awarding damages.

Did the High Court err in its costs judgment?

The Judge held Mr Craig’s defamation claim against the respondents failed,
except to a minor extent. His Honour awarded costs to Mr Slater but reduced them as he failed in relation to an issue which significantly increased Mr Craig’s costs.

As to Mr Slater’s counterclaim against Mr Craig, the Judge found that
succeeded in the sense that Mr Craig’s statements were defamatory and untrue. But Mr Craig’s defence of qualified privilege based on a proportionate response to attack succeeded in whole. The Judge found each party succeeded and failed in more or less equal measure. He ordered costs for the counterclaim lie where they fell.

The effect of the present appeal being allowed is that Mr Craig has enjoyed
rather greater success on the principal claim than he did in the High Court, and that the costs award must be set aside.

Result

The appeal is allowed, to the extent set out at (in the judgment).

The appellant is entitled to costs in this Court for a standard appeal on a band A basis plus any disbursements.

Damages are remitted for redetermination in the High Court, along with costs therein, in light of the terms of this judgment.

So Craig will get costs awarded for his appeal, and should now get some damages and costs awarded by the High Court.

With Slater bankrupt and already with significant court cost and legal debts he is unlikely to pay costs or damages. And Social Media Consultants in liquidation – there may be some assets to distribute but with other substantial awards and costs in other defamation cases (in particular versus Matthew Blomfield) the available funds could be spread quite thin. However the liquidator is investigating possible transfer of funds and assets.

Craig will feel victorious to an extent, but this will have been costly to him.

Slater (and Jordan Williams and John Stringer) have been shown via various judgments to have effectively trashed the Conservative Party – this is a serious matter in a democracy. Slater also tried to overturn a mayoral election and effectively trashed the political career of Len Brown (no legal action eventuated).

But Slater now has a reputation as a nasty, vindictive, destructive political activist masquerading as media, as does the defunct Whale Oil blog and it’s replacement The BFD. At least it is widely known that any Slater accusations and attacks should be viewed with great suspicion and scepticism.

Craig said he wanted to expose Dirty Politics and to an extent he has succeeded in doing that, which is is a useful public service.

By now Slater’s political and media reputation is so tarnished it may make little difference, but if it further deters anyone from feeding information or money into the Slater sleaze blog then it will have done some good.

The full Court of Appeal judgment.

Clare Curran and the brutality of politics

I don’t think Clare Curran was cut out to be political. After working in Parliament she managed to get herself into a fairly safe Labour seat in Dunedin South, and was a fairly committed and decent electorate MP, but she never seemed a good fit for party or Wellington politics. And she ended up being brutalised by it.

Actually, not by ‘it’. by people.

Some of it she brought upon herself as she tried to message manage in social media. She was involved in Labour’s attempt at a blog that gradually banned people.

But once Labour got into Government and Curran became a minister, people in the National Party, MPs, targeted Curran and help destroy her political career.  and Cameron Slater and others who see destroying people as a game.

She also made some dumb decisions so her demise was partly self inflicted, but dirty politics came close to destroying her as a person.

The Spinoff:  ‘I physically felt like I was going to die’: Clare Curran opens up on politics, toxicity and trauma

Curran says she was a top target for the likes of rightwing blogger Cameron Slater and lobbyist and commentator Matthew Hooton throughout her four terms. “They hated me.” In some of his many posts about her, Slater described Curran as “something dreadful” and “dumber than a bag of hammers”.

That’s fairly mild by Slater’s standards.

Curran commissioned research on coverage of her from September 30, 2017 (the week after the general election) to October 27, 2018. Of the 509 (non-broadcast) articles about her, 139 were negative blogs on Cameron Slater’s WhaleOil site. The Otago Daily Times produced just 62 articles.  Slater produced the most articles about Curran – more than twice as many as any other writer.

Curran seems a bit obsessed with Slater’s attacks, but that shows how relentless he was in trying to destroy someone. remember that at this time he had been distanced by National, and was promoting Winston Peters and NZ First, so this was probably just combat sport to him. Until he got involved in the crash and burn of Jamie Lee Ross (sort of supporting Ross but that may have been more to try to damage National).

Ross has responded to Curran’s revelations via https://twitter.com/jamileeross

I had such mixed emotions reading this. You would have to be heartless, or so partisan that you’re now devoid of humanity, to not feel empathy for Clare. But at the same time, I recall being on the other side when it was all happening.

I was in the 8am strategy meetings when we were deciding to throw everything we had at her. I was in the morning procedures meetings as Melissa Lee would share what her latest hit on Clare was going to be.

Clare was a weak link. National wanted to break her. And we did. Watching those question time answers, from about 10 metres away, you could pinpoint the very moment her career ended. I can only now imagine what it felt like. But at the time all we felt was excitement and success.

Parliament turns normal people in to savages. Another human was going through probably the most traumatic experience they’ll ever go through. Clare lost her job, reputation, her mental well-being. What were we doing? Laughing. Backslapping. Praising the destroyers. We were awful.

Yeah, accountability is important. But why enjoy the destruction of others so much? Do we really need to revel is someone else’s downfall? Sure, we all signed up for what Parliament is. But why did we also sign up for forgetting decency when we walked in the door? Sorry Clare.

At least he has said sorry two years later, but MPs and party hoodlums seem to get caught up in the dirty politics game.

There’s a big difference between holding the Government to account and trying to politically and mentally destroy people. Slater only does that because he was part of a party that has done that for a long time.

Curran received six to eight months of psychological treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder after that disastrous afternoon. “I’m not Shane Jones. I didn’t have a pat answer. I don’t do bluster and I was trying to answer honestly and I couldn’t come up with the words and my mind went blank. It was the worst nightmare in front of everyone. I remember a sensation of pressure that built up, and quite honestly, during those first few days I felt like I was literally going to die. I felt physically that I was going to die because the stress had got so much and there was nowhere else for it to go.”

At times, she admits, she thought she might even quite like to die.

Very sad to see her get to a dark place like that.

Curran says within weeks of the formation of the coalition government in 2017, a person she won’t name told her that she was the main target for the opposition. “Around the time I came into parliament, and even before, I was squarely on the radar of Hooton and Slater and [blogger and pollster] David Farrar. I had a disproportionate amount of focus on me. I was seen as an easy picking.”

Openly at least Farrar (on Kiwiblog) wasn’t anywhere near as relentless or nasty as Slater, but the two are seen by some to work in tandem – Farrar continued to support Slater even after the latter fell out with National.

I don’t know what Hooton’s involvement was. I would have to see evidence before I will see it as more dirty politics, Curran seems to have been very sensitive to any sort of criticism, and may see it all as trying to get to her.

She says senior National MP Nick Smith labelled her “Goebbels” after her 2006 paper to a regional Labour Party conference, in which she discussed how the party could reframe public debate and resonate with voters by communicating with “values-based” language. When she became a minister in 2017, she says her efforts to reform public broadcasting faced “hostility and disdain” from media commentators.

That sounds like more super-sensitivity to criticism of Curran’s performance as a minister.  Political journalists have their faults, but they can usually pick when ministers aren’t up to the job.

I don’t think Curran was up to being an effective Minister – just a few people in each government end up being very capable ministers, the rest turn out to be ok or mediocre or poor. There’s no way of knowing until they try, but the success rate of ministers (and leaders) isn’t high.

Curran can see why they might see her as a weak link and, in the manner of a pack of lions hunting a gazelle, pick her off from the rest of the herd. She accepts that’s a reasonable strategy to embarrass a government. “Oh yeah, and I’m not angry about that. This is the business we are in. But there was a coming together … In my opinion there was a view within the press gallery that they were on board with that.

“I have strengths but I also have weaknesses and one of those is that in the political arena, I’m not a great orator. I’m not hugely quick off the mark. You are either naturally good at it or you have to learn how to do it at question time.”

It wasn’t just her lack of skills at speaking, despite her training in PR. Lack of confidence and lack of being on top of her  portfolios, and making basic mistakes not just once but repeatedly, and not being open as Minister of Open Government all contributed to Curran’s downfall.

Curran’s beef seems to be not with the fact that she was held to account, but that the persistence of the pursuit was out of order. Asked why she did what she did, she replies: “Tell me what it was that I did”, seeming still not to grasp why an apparent lack of openness – even if unintended – is especially problematic for the minister for open government.

It’s fair enough to hold her accountable for her mistakes, she says. “It’s the kind of accountability that you get held to, it’s inequitable for some people. It became apparent to me reasonably quickly, by February, around the time of the Carol Hirschfeld scrutiny, that it was an unrelenting focus.”

Because she wasn’t handling her job well. There will be no respite for a wounded minister, and there shouldn’t be.

Perhaps part leaders and Prime Ministers should be much more on to this and either support or demote poor performers and those who are mentally struggling.

What Curran highlights is three things:

  • MPs promoted to ministerial roles may or may not step up to the workload, responsibilities, and pressure.
  • Prime Ministers should deal more quickly with under performing or struggling Ministers.
  • Politics is often a nasty, dirty brutal game of deliberate attack and attrition, and it needn’t and shouldn’t be.

Slater now established at BFD but same old activism, grudges and dirty smearing

Cameron Slater is now established at The BFD in a very similar role he had at Whale Oil – promoting political agendas, showing he still holds deep grudges against past and current National MPs (particularly leaders), making unsubstantiated accusations and insinuations, and running dirty smears that he had become well known for.

He has rejoined co-author ‘Xavier’ in promoting Winston Peters and NZ First, a remarkable reversal to a few years ago where Peters was frequently attacked and ridiculed..

After having a stroke in October 2018 Slater was much less involved at Whale Oil, and stopped commenting altogether (at least under his own name) when it seemed convenient to try to avoid ongoing legal proceedings that ended up continuing anyway.

With large legal debts mounting and a disastrous outcome in the defamation case Matt Blomfield finally won against him, presumably with the expectation of more substantial costs and awards against him, Slater declared himself bankrupt in February 2019, relinquished his official involvement in Social Media Consultants Limited, the company running the Whale Oil blog, and soon afterwards the company went into voluntary liquidation – it was also liable to costs and awards in the Blomfield case (final judgment not yet delivered).

A new company was quickly set up, a new blog The BFD started with Slater’s wife now apparently in sole charge, and Whale Oil 2 was under way, but without Slater headlining the content.

Slater tried but failed to avoid being involved in another defamation case due to his claimed incapacity from the stroke – see SELLMAN v SLATER [2019] NZHC 1666 [17 July 2019]. At that stage Henry was still representing Slater but was trying to get leave to withdraw as Slater’s counsel – this was declined by the judge.

Slater also tried to claim that the proceeding could no longer continue against him because he was now bankrupt.

It was contended for Mr Slater that consequent upon his bankruptcy the defamation proceeding was against Mr Slater’s bankrupt estate, which was in the hands of the Official Assignee, and that the proceeding could no longer continue against Mr Slater in person. In the judgment under appeal delivered on 17 July 2019 Palmer J rejected that argument.

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.

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.

Slater, now representing himself, tried to appeal this decision, but tried to avoid the need to pay security for costs. This was heard by the Court of Appeal in December: Slater v Sellman [2019] NZCA 670 (19 December 2019)

On 22 July 2019 Mr Slater filed a notice of appeal which named the Official Assignee as second respondent. Security for costs was set at $13,200. On 15 August 2019 Mr Slater applied under r 35(6)(c) of the Court of Appeal (Civil) Rules 2005 (the Rules) for dispensation from security for costs. In a decision dated 20 September 2019 the Deputy Registrar declined that application but directed that security be reduced to $6,600.. Mr Slater seeks a review of the decision declining dispensation.

The Deputy Registrar concluded:

Mr Slater has not shown he is impecunious. Even if he had, there are no exceptional circumstances to justify dispensing with security for costs. Although the appeal potentially raises an issue of public interest, I do not consider a reasonable and solvent litigant would pursue the appeal because its potential benefits are outweighed by potential costs and its merits seem weak. In my view, it would not be right to require the respondents to defend the judgment under appeal without security for their costs.

Bankruptcy does not prevent a bankrupt from maintaining involvement in court proceedings, subject to orders being made under s 76(2) of the Act.

It follows that I consider that there is no merit in an appeal which seeks to challenge these well-established principles.

Consequently it is my view that a reasonable and solvent litigant would not wish to proceed with an appeal of the nature which Mr Slater has filed.

In other words, a ‘reasonable’ litigant would not risk costs in a weak appeal. It’s good to see a court putting a stop at least in this instant to a litigant taking ‘weak’ actions with little chance of success unless they are trying to delay proceedings and incur costs on respondents with no intention of paying costs. Slater and an associate Dermot Nottingham have been able to get away with this far too much (Nottingham is also bankrupt due to large amounts of unpaid costs)

The application to review the Deputy Registrar’s decision declining to dispense with security for costs is declined. Security for costs of $6,600 is payable by Mr Slater by 17 January 2020.

There are no further decisions online so I don’t know if the appeal was able to proceed.

Meanwhile a new author started posting at The BFD,  Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary, who was extraordinary not just in their name. The style of writing and the political activism had a lot of similarity to posts at the old Whale Oil under Slater’s name. It is known that different contributors had operated under Slater’s name, and it looked to me that one of them had simply switched to posting under a new name.

Xavier was as anti the current National leadership and as pro Winston Peters and NZ First that Slater had miraculously become about the same time long time lawyer of Peters and NZ First and trustee of the NZ First Foundation currently being investigated by the SFO, Brian Henry, started representing Slater in the Blomfield case. It is presumed that Slater clocked up large legal bills and left Henry with a lot unpaid when he went bankrupt.

Over the last month or so Slater has started to comment and post at The BFD, and is now doing both regularly, much the same as he had been at Whale Oil. The main difference now is that Xavier is doing his own anonymous posts still, but the dual approach looks very similar.

And Slater is operating much the same as he used to. last week he posted By Dodging the Question Todd Muller Admits He’s Been Plotting – that’s a nonsense headline but typical of Slater making ridiculous claims to try to stir. He repeated similar claptrap in the post, and also made dirty insinuations – also typical of Slater.

Yesterday Slater posted National Is Bleeding Out, the Caucus Must Act Time for a Coup, Right Now. He has been calling for coups for years so this is nothing new. He also claims to have some sort of special insight with “I predicted” and “hat is what Chris Trotter and I discussed last week”.

The immediately following that post is one by Xavier – National Need NZ First to Form a Government

The National Party’s 29% poll is a disaster for Simon Bridges personally and for the 18 MPs who will lose their seats. It also means that the new National Party leader will only be able to become Prime Minister if a deal is done with New Zealand First.

We won’t know how many seats will be lost until the election which is over four months away, but on current polling National is nowhere near able to get the numbers with NZ First – in the UMR poll they total just 35%.

‘Xavier’ also pushes for new leadership who should then work with Winston:

They may not get a second election campaign so their one and only chance of becoming PM is to do so with New Zealand First’s support. Muller, Mitchell, Collins and Kaye should all be arranging a whisky with Winston as soon as possible, because, without his support, they will end their career as a failed opposition leader.

Slater, Whale Oil and The BFD have been pushing this since before the last election – National should dump Key/English/Bridges and put in a leader who will give Winston power, or at least give Winston a chance of claiming he has options that give him bargaining power after the election.

But while Slater and his co-conspirator promote one number from the poll, what National got, they are ignoring a bigger number, Labour on 55%. At that level Labour wouldn’t need NZ First to form a Government, and would put Peters in a very week bargaining position – Labour wouldn’t need him and National have ruled him out.

Even if National change leaders it would be very risky for a new leader to suddenly u-turn and say they would consider doing a deal with Peters, after what Peters has said about National and what he tried to do through the court – he secretly filed proceedings just before going into ‘good faith’ coalition negotiations with National after the last election on 2017.

It looks like The BFD is pushing a hopeless cause. Not only are their aims lame, but their influence is negligible. Their anti-National pro-NZ First agenda isn’t well supported even at The BFD, and they have virtually no support at Kiwiblog (and get a lot of criticism there for both National bashing and NZ First shilling).

And the mainstream media stopped given them any coverage six years ago after Dirty Politics was published, showing that Whale Oil had been used as an attack blog for hire.

Slater is back, his dirt is back, but he looks largely impotent. He and Xavier are even at risk of dragging NZ First down below the threshold this election, but that may end up being more influenced by the SFO investigation into questionable handling of donations and secret funding of party operations.

John Stringer loses defamation case against Colin Craig

Ex-Conservative Party member John Stringer has lost a defamation case against his former party leader Colin Craig, adding to the list of court failures in the aftermath of the attacks on Craig run on the Whale Oil blog.

[1] In July 2015, after the implosion of the Conservative Party, Mr Colin Craig and Mrs Helen Craig said Mr Craig had been the victim of dirty politics as the Party’s former leader. They named three individuals as responsible, including Mr John Stringer, a former Conservative Party Board member. They gave a press conference and published a booklet saying so and distributed it to 1.63 million households in New Zealand. Mr Craig made other public statements saying so. The booklet was moderated, anonymously, by Mr Stephen Taylor. Party officials, Mrs Angela Storr and Mr Kevin Stitt, emailed updates to Conservative Party members about Mr Stringer and Mr Craig’s booklet and legal proceedings.

[2] Mr Stringer sues the five of them for defamation…The defendants fairly characterise their statements as falling broadly into six categories of meanings regarding Mr Stringer, that he: lied or is a liar; engaged in attack politics; coordinated with others to target Mr Craig; seriously breached the Conservative Party’s rules; acted unlawfully (by defaming Mr Craig); and betrayed others. The defendants did publish the statements complained of, most of which were defamatory of Mr Stringer. But, I hold:

(a) Mr and Mrs Craig have qualified privilege for all of their defamatory statements because they were made in response to Mr Stringer’s attacks on them. The force and vigour of their responses were not out of proportion to his, were not made in bad faith and were made for the purpose for which the privilege is accorded. With one exception, Mr and Mrs Craig’s defamatory statements of fact were also true or not materially different from the truth. Their defamatory statements of opinion were their genuine opinions and based on facts that were true or not materially different from the truth.

(b) Mr Taylor knew his moderation of the booklet would encourage its publication and he had the opportunity to influence, significantly, whether the statements were published. So, at law, he also published the defamatory statements. But the defences of qualified privilege for response to attack, truth and honest opinion protect him as they do the Craigs.

(c) Mrs Storr and Mr Stitt’s statements were made in discharge of their duty to communicate with party members and therefore benefit from the defence of qualified privilege of a duty to publish. They were also either true or their honest opinions.

[3] Accordingly, Mr Stringer’s claims all fail….

[10] By early 2015, there were persistent leaks of Board information to the media and, in particular, to Whale Oil, then one of the most read blogs in New Zealand. It is now clear, including by Mr Stringer’s admissions under cross-examination at trial, that Mr Stringer had been feeding information to the Deputy Editor of Whale Oil, Mr Pete Belt, from at least 15 November 2014…

[11] On 28 February 2015, in chairing a Board meeting, Mr Dobbs reminded Board members of their confidentiality obligations. All Board members, including Mr Stringer, re-signed the Party’s Code of Conduct which said, among other things, that “[a]ll media correspondence with regard to The Conservative Party of NZ business must be issued through the Party Leader, President or Press Secretary”.They also all signed a confidentiality agreement …

[12] Despite this, on 5 March 2015, Mr Stringer provided further suggestions to Mr Belt about possible stories regarding the Conservative Party…

Feel free to say you approached me, “but he declined to comment, citing Board confidentialities” but did say there were some widespread concerns over various matters the Party was seeking to resolve as amicably as possible.

In all other respects, cite “A Party member.” (Don’t mention Board as source). Is it better that we chat?

Stringer sent a text to Jordan Williams:

Pathetic jellyfish on Board wouldn’t even agree to release stmnt accepting CCs resignation last night. Done with them. Going nuclear. Time to carpet bomb the Colin Craig cult compound, make sure this clown doesn’t come back …

Getting so drawn into this now; and WO and I are gonna take him on if he goes us legally; wod kinda like opportunity to actually site the folders if at all possible, read the texts. I’m only responding to hearsay and accusations so far.

More from the judgment:

[19] On 21 June 2015, Mr Stringer emailed Mr Watkin at TV3, saying Whale Oil had a “‘nuclear bomb’ re Colin and may disclose this week”

So Stringer, Williams, Pete Belt and Cameron Slater were all involved to various extents at Whale Oil.

[102] It is simply not credible that Mr Stringer did not understand the effect of feeding information to Mr Belt. Mr Stringer was sending emails to Mr Belt about scandalous topics of current interest. Mr Stringer is an experienced political operative. His wife attested to that. 

A person of Mr Stringer’s experience with the media would have expected that the information and allegations he was sending Mr Belt would end up on the Whale Oil blog. I do not believe his protestations to the contrary. Indeed, his email of 26 February 2015 was explicit in asking Mr Belt to “hold off publication” because of a “witch-hunt” due to a previous Whale Oil post. Mr Stringer’s email to Mr Belt of 21 June 2015 said “not for publication yet, lets wait for Magic Hands replies”. And despite Ms Rankin expressing to him her outrage about the Walden report being leaked to Whale Oil, Mr Stringer continued to feed stories to Mr Belt, as he had leaked that report. 

It was entirely foreseeable that providing salacious allegations and confidential information to the Deputy Editor of the Whale Oil blog would result in it ending up on that blog. I consider the evidence establishes Mr Stringer knew full well what he was doing when he emailed Mr Belt. He was providing a stream of leaked information and damaging allegations about Mr Craig for possible publication on the Whale Oil blog, including when he was a member of the Board of the Conservative Party. He was working with Whale Oil to attack and undermine Mr Craig.

[159] If successful, Mr Stringer sought declarations, damages, aggravating damages and, apparently, punitive damages against the defendants, amounting to a total of over $3.5 million dollars. I agree with the point Mr Akel offered in submission, that it is too late for Mr Stringer to put punitive damages under s 28 of the Act in issue, when he failed to do so in his pleading. I also accept Mr Akel’s point that Mr Stringer’s own conduct would be relevant to any damages award if he were successful. He provided a link to, and argued against the booklet, republished the three Party updates on his own blog and even used the term “Judas” as a heading for one of his own cartoons on his blog.And I accept the defendants’ submission that the amounts claimed are divorced from reality. But, as it is, Mr Stringer has not succeeded in any of his claims.

[161] Mr Stringer’s suit was misconceived. I dismiss his claim.

The public accusations against Colin Craig that destroyed the already failed Conservative Party led to a number of defamation trials that have kept courts busy for years.

This all blew up in 2015, driven by Cameron Slater and the Whale Oil blog, with Jordan Williams supplying information he had access to in confidence, Williams deemed the public good justified breaching that confidence, but dirty politics and self interest seemed to be prominent.

The ‘public good’ seemed to be an attempt to destroy the Conservative Party (it succeeded), or to oust Craig as leader and install different leadership.

Slater and Whale Oil also tried to have Auckland mayor Len Brown deposed just after the 2013 election with what amounted to a series of sleazy attacks. Brown served his term and then stood down.

Following a flurry of accusations and counter attack from Craig, Williams went to court and had a big win (awarded 1.27 million by a jury) against Craig, but that has been set aside after legal challenges and appeals, and was finally settled last December: Colin Craig receives apology, compensation from Jordan Williams

A long and bitter court feud between former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and Jordan Williams has been settled, with an apology and compensation from Williams.

In the first High Court case, a jury had found overwhelmingly for Williams and awarded him $1.27 million in damages – a record for defamation awards in New Zealand.

But the Supreme Court found the High Court jury had been materially misdirected and the case should be run again.

“My options are to settle, however much it sticks in the throat, go bankrupt, or incur huge debt to fight on,” said Williams.

“With the comments the appeal judges have made about limits to damages in defamation, no one rational would go for the retrial.”

On Tuesday, Craig sent out a press release saying he’d received a full apology and a payment from Williams, after Williams admitted making false allegations about him.

It means a retrial of a case in which Williams accused Craig of defamation will not go ahead.

“I wish to apologise publicly for the untrue statements I have made about Mr Craig,” the apology from Williams said.

Now John Stringer loses defamation court battle against former Conservative party leader Colin Craig

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has won a legal defamation battle with the party’s ex-board member John Stringer.

During a High Court trial in August 2019, Stringer claimed the booklet – Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas – sent to 1.6m households by Craig and his wife Helen in July 2015, hurt his political aspirations.

He took the Craigs to court for defamation, as well as Stephen Taylor, who moderated the booklet, and party officials Angela Storr and Kevin Stitt, who emailed supporters updates about Stringer and the booklet.

At the trial, Stringer claimed the booklet was designed to defame him “to as wide an audience as possible” and alleged he was involved in a “dirty politics conspiracy”.

Stringer also used Whale Oil in the stoush and afterwards so yeah.

In 2016, Stringer ran for a Christchurch City Council seat in the Papanui ward, but lost to current councillor Mike Davidson.

He claimed members of the public subsequently told him “that Colin Craig stuff” hurt his campaign.

Before the 2017 general election, Stringer was actively considered by NZ First as a potential candidate in South Canterbury’s Rangitata electorate.

However, Stringer said the person organising his candidacy later said the party wanted to withdraw it, “because I was one of those dirty politics brigade fellows”.

In a recently-released judgement on the matter, Justice Matthew Palmer found the Craigs were covered by qualified privilege for their statements as they were made in response to Stringer attacking them.

“The force and vigour of their responses were not out of proportion to his, were not made in bad faith and were made for the purpose for which the privilege is accorded.”

Their statements were factual, with the exception of one, he said.

“Their defamatory statements of opinion were their genuine opinions and based on facts that were true or not materially different from the truth.”

He added that as moderator of the booklet, Taylor was technically the publisher of the defamatory statements when it came to the law.

However, the defence of qualified privilege and truth and honest opinion protected him also.

As it was Storr and Stitt’s duty to communicate with party members, they were also protected.

Justice Palmer dismissed Stringer’s defamation claim, which he said was “misconceived”.

I think there was a lot ‘misconceived’ in the attack on Craig and his counter attack.

Williams must be out of pocket by a substantial amount.

Slater is bankrupt due to multiple defamation failures (he appeared to see defamation as a money making scheme, especially after the original award in Williams’ favour when Slater launched into his own case against Craig.

Craig made now monetary claim against Stringer who was already not in a position to pay anything.

Dirty politics via Whale Oil has been an expensive own goal for a number of people using the blog to attack people.

Judgment: Stringer v Craig [2020] NZHC 644 (3 April 2020)

 

Winston Peters has more explanations than photos

Explanations from Winston Peters over who took photos and video of journalists and gave them to The BFD attack blog continue to change.

He originally said on Magic Talk Radio “we took the photographs”…”to prove that was the sort of behaviour going on”.

He later tweeted a different variation:

“NZF has no interest in following Mr Espiner or any other journalists. The very reverse applies. No private investigators have been engaged to follow Mr Espiner or anyone else. A supporter thought it odd seeing ex-president Lester Grey with Mr Espiner so took a photo. Simple.”

Yesterday he tweeted what appeared to be emphatic, but it didn’t actually refute the “we” and “a supporter” claims.

Let there be no doubt that after caucus today I can confirm no NZ First Minister or MP sent any photos to any website.

I think that no one thought that a Minister or MP was directly involved in taking the photos or giving them to The BFD, so this is nothing but (typical) bluster from Peters.

From NZ First Leader Winston Peters denies his MPs sent covert photos to far-right blog (NZH):

This morning, Peters would not answer media questions about the photos.

Instead, he directed reporters to an interview he did with Magic Talk earlier that day.

“I don’t know anything about it, and I’m not responsible for it,” he said of the photos.

This sounds similar to his claims he knew nothing about the NZ First Foundation but also claimed to know exactly how they had handled donations.

Speaking to Magic Talk again today, Peters said he had “no idea” how the photos and the videos ended up on the blog.

“I’m a busy man, I’m flat out – I’m not wasting my time with this. I have no idea who did what or when.”

So another variation. Of course he doesn’t want to answer questions about this. But fudging and playing music clips and trying to make a joke of it doesn’t reduce the seriousness of NZ First connections to The BFD.

It’s been obvious that Whale Oil and it’s replacement The BFD have been shilling for Peters and NZ First for three years, since before the last election.

Prior to being a Peters promoter Cameron Slater had been a dirty critic of Peters and NZ First. The sudden switch to doing dirty work for NZ First of course raises suspicions of why.

It’s also well known that Winston’s friend, NZ First Party lawyer and NZ First Foundation trustee Brian Henry represented Slater in defamation proceedings and will have clocked up big legal bills of some sort. That raises some obvious (unanswered) questions.

The “dirty Politics’ book provided evidence that Whale Oil was paid to attack a variety of people in the past, and that Simon Lusk was involved both in making payments to Whale Oil, and ghost writing attack posts that appeared under Slater’s name.

Since the journalist photos were used in an attack post both Slater and Lusk have suddenly been named several times at The BFD, they seem to be bragging about finally getting some media attention for one of their hit jobs.

But their ongoing attacks just draw attention to how the core Dirty Politics crew are back in action, how compromised Peters and NZ First are over this connection. No amount of shifting stories and shifty non-explanations will reduce the dirty stench.

The ongoing antics at The BFD, apart from keeping the ‘look at how dirty we are’ in the spotlight’, keeps emphasising their complicity with NZ First, which keeps Peters squirming and ducking.


And on cue Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary has just posted again, revisiting Hager and Dirty Politics and attacking media yet again. He mentions ‘Media Party’ more often than Peters did recently.

At least the National party has finally found a willing coalition partner, the Media Party, led by Guyon Espiner with Sean Plunket as the communications director.

All they need now is some candidates and a logo.

That’s very funny from someone who, sort of anonymously, is openly now doing the dirty work for a party that already has a logo and candidates.

Is he out of control? Or is this all with the approval of Peters? Either way it’s a political cluster fuck.

Slater, Lusk connection to The BFD confirmed

After staying under cover for a year Cameron Slater has started to openly comment and post at The BFD. And Simon Lusk’s association with the blog has also been as good as confirmed.

When Whale Oil was shut down and The BFD started up in February last year they tried to distance Slater from the new business, to try to avoid legal and financial problems – Slater had just declared himself bankrupt, and the company that owned Whale Oil, Social Media Consultants Limited had been put into liquidation. Just before liquidation Slater was removed as director and shareholder, leaving his wife Juana Atkins as sole director and shareholder.

Slater didn’t openly contribute to The BFD, but Atkins was had a prominent role under her pseudonyms SB and ‘spanish bride’. The content and style of some of her posts had a Slater look to them.

The pro-NZ First and anti-National agenda that Slater had been running at Whale Oil gradually emerged at the BFD, with familiar styles and targets.

Posts started to appear under the name Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary (who uses a photo of explorer Xavier Mertz who died in Antarctic in 1913), They had a similar style to some of the Whale Oil posts that had appeared under Slater’s name. And they continued the anti-National and pro-NZ First agenda.

A recent post by Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary got attention because it used photos taken by ‘a NZ First supporter’ who Winston Peters had initially referred to as ‘we’. This post was typical WO style dirty politics, attacking journalists and threatening them with legal repercussions. More posts from the same author have followed, attacking a number of other journalists and media.

Last week Slater posted under his own name for I think the first time at The BFD.

I Just Had to Let It Go

On the morning of October 28 2018, just four days from my 50th birthday, I awoke to find my life changed dramatically. As I travelled to hospital by ambulance I felt confused, sad, despondent and very, very angry. I didn’t know what the future would deliver anymore, my whole life was in tatters as a result of a stroke.

His life was already in tatters, facing massive court case losses and costs as his attempts to avoid being held to account for attack agendas ran out of options. The stroke just added to this mess, and the stress of his predicament may have contributed to it.

The rest of the  was available to subscribers only, so the need to encourage subscriptions seemed to be greater than the wish to getting his story out.

Another attack post by Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary yesterday –  Where Was Andrea Vance When Rawshark HACKED a Journalist? – was much the same as many past laments about the Dirty Politics exposure. It looked like a Slater post.

And in comments where someone may have been getting close to a sensitive topic Slater commented in response.

His denials can be taken with a grain of salt, as can his accusations aimed at National.

Today at The BFD is yet another attack on Paula Bennett in The BFD Face of the Day

Most of it is same old smear sort of stuff, but one paragraph stands out as significant.

This week she stated publicly that she and National have nothing to do with experienced political operator Simon Lusk and ex Whaleoil editor Cameron Slater. She is telling the truth because both of them have a no dickheads policy.

Apart from the hilarious ‘no dickheads’ irony, this appears to confirm that the old dirty partnership of Slater and Lusk is openly operating at The BFD.

This doesn’t help Winston Peters or NZ First, who have been getting a hammering for working with The BFD to run dirty politics attacks on media.

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.