Hypocrisy on free speech

Cameron Slater would have been chuffed to be included as a ‘prominent Kiwi’ in a Dominion Post article on free speech: Speech: What it costs to be free

As part of that process, and in the quest for a little clarity, we approached a number of prominent Kiwis with some experience of free speech issues. They represent different sides of the debate.

We asked them for their thoughts on these key questions:

  • Is free speech the right to say anything you like?
  • Is there any point at which something is too offensive to be said in public?
  • Is there such a thing as “hate speech” and how should it be defined?
  • Is free speech under threat in this country? If so, where is the threat coming from?

Here are their responses. Massey University Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas declined to be involved.

There’s some interesting responses. From Slater:

Hurt feelings are not grounds for harm. Mostly they need a good cup of concrete to help them harden up.

Perhaps he should listen to his own advice. he is more inclined to throw lumps of verbal concrete than he is swallow them.

Free speech is under threat in this country. The threat comes from a lack of action standing up to those who would threaten it. For too long there have been cases of bullying people out of jobs, threatening their income, boycotting advertisers and deplatforming of speakers.

I largely agree with that. But it is a tad hypocritical given thaat four days ago Slater posted Some good ideas from David Farrar that included this specified as a Slater favourite:

5. Target Massey’s funding. Identify major donors to Massey and request meetings with them to make the case for why they should donate to one of the other universities that doesn’t ban speakers on the personal whim of the VC.

Slater from the article:

Almost exclusively these actions come from within the angry Left-wing. We have in recent years witnessed the demonisation of John Tamihere and Willie Jackson for daring to ask hard questions on radio, the hounding of Paul Henry out of television, the attacks on me by Nicky Hager, the media and the Left-wing for daring to be effective and challenging, the cancellation of speakers such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern, not to mention the recent attack against Don Brash.

It is laughable though for Slater to claim that “Almost exclusively these actions come from within the angry Left-wing.”

Slater admitted trying to procure a hack of The Standard in an attempt to discredit their speech.

Slater was a prosecution witness in a private prosecution (dismissed at trial) of Lynn Prentice (associated with The Standard) and APN News (NZ Herald) in what appears to be what Slater refers to as lawfare when others do it – see NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 596 [29 March 2018]. He was also an informant.

Slater was an informant and was named as an ‘expert witness’ in a private prosecution versus myself (and Your NZ) and Allied Press (ODT) – charges were eventually withdrawn.

Slater supported his “good friends” in getting a court order against me and Your NZ trying to shut us up and shut us down. That was a farce that was quickly thrown out by the court, but it was an attempt to imprison me because they (including Slater) didn’t like being held to account.

Perhaps Slater has been slurping cement since then, or has gone a bit cold on court proceedings as he still waits for a judgment on Craig v Slater and prepares for Blomfield v Slater, both defamation proceedings.

The media by and large have forgotten their responsibilities to be truth-tellers and have in many cases joined in the witch-hunting.

A bit ironic, but Sslater is more of a heavily slanted activist than truth-teller.

Whale Oil is easy to ignore most of the time these days, but claiming that “Almost exclusively these actions come from within the angry Left-wing” warrants a bit of a serve.

Perhaps Slater has hardened up not get angry about his hypocrisy being highlighted this time.

The Nottingham private prosecutions

It will have been obvious to those following Your NZ in July-August 2015 that there was some legal stuff happening. But I was then gagged through suppression orders so had to be careful what I posted. Until now.

Yesterday morning NZ Herald reported Blogger dodges prison over court suppression breaches, harassment campaigns

A blogger described as “malicious and nasty” has narrowly avoided prison after breaching suppression orders in a prominent Auckland court case and leading a prolonged campaign of criminal harassment against five people, including a former MP.

Dermot Gregory Nottingham was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 100 hours’ community work today in the Auckland District Court, after what Judge Jonathan Down described as a blatant and contemptuous breach of court orders and an arrogant view of right and wrong.

A jury found Nottingham guilty of five criminal harassment charges and two breaches of court suppression orders following a trial, in which Nottingham represented himself, during April and May.

That case is closely linked to my legal misadventure, so much so that suppression on that was also applied to a private prosecution of myself and others.

I posted on this sentencing, trusting that the Herald would have carefully complied with suppression orders. Yesterday I sought and eventually got confirmation from the Auckland District Court that suppression had lapsed in that case, which meant that it will have also lapsed in my case.

Nottingham has a legal history that goes back a long way, including private prosecutions. That’s a different story.

This story is long and complicated – I will keep it as concise as possible – about my legal dealings with him have been going for three years, and are not over yet, with an application seeking leave to appeal currently before the Court of Appeal, with Nottingham promising to take it to the Supreme Court if he fails (again) with that.

While Nottingham is at the centre of all of this he has not acted alone. In my case others have been closely involved, including long time business associate and employer Robert Earle McKinney, brothers Phillip and I believe Antony (the Netherlands LF connection), Marc Spring and Cameron Slater.

In April 2015 NZ Herald published a report. A revised version of this is still online: Man accused of suppression breach

An Auckland man accused of breaching a high-profile name suppression has been granted name suppression himself.

The man appeared in Auckland District Court today facing two charges of contravening suppression orders. He is also charged with five counts of criminal harassment.

That article was republished by the Otago Daily Times, and as the original headline referred to it being a blogger it also attracted interest posts here on Your NZ and at The Standard.

Slater was an obvious candidate, as he had a history of suppression breaches resulting in convictions on multiple charges, but I could quickly rule him out. I did quite a bit of searching but ended up having no idea who this person was,

As with most stories it quickly faded into history. But it resurfaced in July when out of the blue I was served with court papers that were an application to lay charges against me for breaching suppression by a private prosecutor, Dermot Nottingham. This confirmed that Nottingham was the subject of the April article, the first time I knew it was him. At that stage I had heard of him but knew little about him.

Nottingham says he first went to the police but they declined to act, so he decided to conduct private prosecutions against myself, APN (Herald), Allied press (ODT) and Lynn Prentice.

Earle McKinney arranged for service of the papers. I willingly complied, having no idea what they were about. The application to lay charges claimed a conspiracy between police, court officials and the Herald.

It alleged that I had ‘entered into an online agreement with Lyn Prentice’, which was ridiculous – lprent had just re-banned me from the Standard (for a year) on 1 April 2015 after a previous one month ban in March.

About a week later Marc Spring served two charging documents – alternative charges of suppression breaches. This raised some suspicions, because about the time the first document was served Spring had suddenly started niggling at me, including suggesting I might be fucked over by Whale Oil like someone else had been, on Twitter in tandem with an LF account.

I did some investigating and found that Spring had been commenting on Your NZ since January 2015 using multiple pseudonyms. I had clashed with him when, as I later found out, he started attacking a Matthew Blomfield which was in breach of a Slater court agreement and a restraining order against Spring. That is a whole different (albeit related) story (also still before the courts, with a defamation hearing Blomfield v Slater due later this year).

The charges were odd – I was charged with publishing an article, the name of which matched a post at The Standard. Through the course of the proceedings I pointed out this was ridiculous and completely unfounded but that was ignored by the courts and by Nottingham.

As with much of Nottingham’s legal stuff it is difficult to know what is incompetence and what is deliberate confusion and chaos. I think it is usually a mangled mess of both.

Nottingham rang me soon after the charges were served, and we exchanged emails over a couple of days. He suggested I should plead guilty. Believing I was probably not guilty, I declined to commit, instead saying that I would seek legal advice. Over the next couple of weeks I found a lawyer to advise and represent me. This was my first experience with law and courts so I needed help. I (and my lawyer) had no idea what we were getting into.

A day or two after declining to confess I received an abrupt email from McKinney, saying he had been given instructions to scour the Internet, threatening further prosecutions, and demanded I respond by 4 pm that afternoon. I had no idea who McKinney was at that stage.

As it turned out McKinney was working closely with Nottingham. They always shared the same email address, Nottingham was purportedly an employee of McKinney, with both acting for Advantage Advocacy Ltd – now in liquidation.

McKinney eventually provided a witness statement in the prosecution. He also acted for Nottingham, including signing court submissions on his behalf. He is not a lawyer and I suspect this isn’t legally correct.

After another not very nice email from McKinney that was seemingly dealt with, but McKinney did a lot over the next few months to, I believe, lay further charges and when that failed, Nottingham tried to get a whole bunch of accusations included in his prosecution. The court never allowed this.

In July the LF website had already posted about me being in a ‘dirty dozen’ of journalists and bloggers and made other insinuations. In August more posts started to appear, targeting me, making outlandish claims and accusations, and these continued for about a year.

LF had in the post campaigned on some worthy causes. Occasionally. But I found out that mostly they found fragments of facts, grossly embellished them, jumped to ridiculous conclusions, and generally attacked and defamed many people. Their website was eventually shut down after court action against them. They popped up somewhere else but seem to have been stopped from posting there last year.

Many of the LF campaigns against people were closely aligned with Nottingham’s so-called justice campaigning. LF detailed a number of instances where they and Nottingham worked together.

And in the court case in which Nottingham has just been sentenced, according the the Herald report, he admits “supplying information to an overseas website”. It happens that that ‘overseas website’ contained almost entirely New Zealand related content, often closely related to Nottingham’s legal crusading.

It appears that LF was based overseas simply to try to avoid New Zealand law. That eventually blew up in Nottingham.

The private prosecution progressed slowly, with many delays and disruptions.

The first hearing was in September in Auckland where the charges were filed. My and Allied Press’ charges were transferred to Dunedin where they should have been laid in the first place – in the court closest to the defendants,

What followed was a hopeless legal mess.

When charges are laid within 15 working days the prosecutor is supposed to provide initial disclosure, that is supposed to clearly explain the charges and the case against you. It is normally brief, especially in simple cases as theoretically this one should have been, a few pages. That was due by mid August 2015.

After Nottingham failed to provide this lawyer’s requests were sent, the court directed compliance, and then set dates by which it had to be provided. By late November it still hadn’t been done – and at one stage Nottingham said he was deliberately withholding it pending ‘further investigations’.

Finally in early December documents arrived. A lot of them. A pile 9 cm thick. Largely a pile of nonsense. Much of it was screen shots of web pages and printouts of articles and posts. Most if not all of it would have been inadmissible. It was a monster of a mess, but it all had to be read in case there was something critical to the case in it. That gets expensive when you’re paying a lawyer. I did quite a bit of the reading and summarised.

One interesting thing I discovered – Cameron Slater was an informant for the prosecution.

McKinney’s witness statement was included, most if not all would have been inadmissible.

An expert witness was named, but nothing ever eventuated from them. They turned out to be the creditor that initiated the liquidation of Advantage Advocacy.

When lawyers made it clear that disclosure was manifestly inadequate the judge arranged a conference call in mid December to organise a way forward. Nottingham filed memoranda the morning immediately prior – very late filings became the norm – and tried to turn it into a move to imprison me by Christmas.

The judge rejected this, but due to the disruptions adjourned for another conference the following day. More late filings, another shambles. Nottingham blocked me from listening to his accusations and claims. As a result the judge ruled that conference calls were out of the question.

A date for the next hearing was set. Nottingham said he needed a holiday and wanted to wait until the following March. The judge obliged – throughout the protracted court proceedings I have been amazed and disappointed how much different judges have pandered to Nottingham, at the expense of the defendants.

in 2015 there was already talk amongst lawyers and the judge of a possible dismissal and costs.

At the March 2016 hearing Nottingham was pressed to name additional witnesses. He put forward Slater as an expert witness.

Slater never provided a witness statement as is required. He seemed to want to distance himself from the prosecution – I will give him the benefit of doubt on this, despite Nottingham’s practice in other cases of trying to introduce witnesses and evidence at trial, giving the defences no time to deal with them properly. Again I don’t know if this is incompetence or a tactic.

Then in April 2016 Nottingham had a serious motorcycle accident. He ended up in hospital for a few weeks. He sustained a head injury – not the first. He has also claimed to have had a serious motorcycle accident in I think 1998, also suffering from a head injury with ongoing effects.

Illness has been a prominent factor in a number of Nottingham’s legal proceedings, often resulting in delays and excuses for non-compliance with timetables and legal requirements.

The accident made a very messy prosecution worse, impossible.

Both I and Allied Press filed for dismissal of charges and a hearing was set for late June 2016.

I made a decision to dispense with counsel and represent myself. By now I had learnt a bit about how legal and court processes worked. I considered the case was hopeless, so I was better saving money and trying things on my own.

So I prepared for the dismissal on my own, and filed submissions, as did Allied Press, always on time. Nottingham didn’t. He couldn’t travel to Dunedin so engaged a lawyer to act for him.

The week before the dismissal hearing the APN/Prentice cases went to trial in Auckland. At that Nottingham failed on a fundamental aspect of a suppression breach case – he could not identify the publisher owners. It turned out he had charged the wrong herald company. Slater appeared as a witness and conceded that Prentice was not an identifiable owner of The Standard. So the case was dismissed.

Other allegations, of actually suppression breaches, never got tested at trial, although the trial judge said they were unlikely to have succeeded.

As in my and Allied’s case, Nottingham was claiming that if particular words could be selected out of an article and used in Google searches, and that led the searcher to a particular website, and words were taken from that and googled again and led them to another website, and then other words were used to search that site, and that led to articles that breached suppression, then the publisher of the original article was guilty of breaching suppression.

That on it’s own is nonsensical.

McKinney had tried to show how this could be done. But he already knew what he was looking for. In that case it’s easy to know what words to use in searches to find what you want, and which search results to sue to move on the next search step. Especially when the computer search history knows you already have an interest in the destination website.

The charges claimed about fifteen suppression breaches because that’s how many there were on the destination website. I don’t think there’s any way of proving an average member of then public would end up finding and reading one let alone all fifteen.

What is more preposterous is that Nottingham was claiming that information he supplied to a foreign website revealing the identity of people with New Zealand suppression was fine, but if he picked words out of other people’s articles that he could then use in Google to find his articles then that other person was guilty of a suppression breach.

I arrived at the dismissal hearing in late June, eleven months and the eight hearing after charges were laid, to find out from Nottingham’s lawyer minutes before the hearing was to begin that Nottingham wanted to withdraw the charges.

Leave was put to the judge, and after he clarified that due to time new charges couldn’t be laid the charges were dismissed.

Both Allied and I initiated proceedings to claim for costs.

It is well known that standard costs available in failed prosecutions are ridiculously small. But you can ask for indemnity (actual) costs at the judge’s discretion, if certain criteria are met.

A costs hearing date of September 2016 was suggested and a submission timetable was set. Both Allied and I submitted ion time as usual. Nottingham never served a submission in response.

District courts are under a lot of time pressure. It wasn’t until early March 2017 that we got a hearing set.

Prior to the hearing the court suggested that Nottingham had filed a submission. When we stated that we had not been served the court directed that it be served, and had to repeat the directive when it wasn’t forthcoming.

A few days before the hearing i ended up having to go to court and spend a morning reading their copy. They wouldn’t let me take it away or take a copy of it.

As was typical it was long. It comprised of an attempt to re-litigate his failed prosecution, claiming that we were obviously guilty and but for his accident we would have been convicted, so should be treated as convicted. A withdrawal of charges means that legally we are ‘not guilty’.

And most of it was an affidavit from Nottingham’s brother Phillip. addressed to the World Court, the United Nations and other international legal bodies claiming that it was unfair that Dermot was being prosecuted.

It was a waste of time me reading it, and the only consolation was that it must have been a much bigger waste of time for the Nottingham’s writing it and sending it around the world (if they did that).

Nottingham couldn’t attend the costs hearing. he tried to get yet another delay, but the court insisted that the hearing go ahead.

After the hearing started the court official interrupted the judge and handed him some papers. It was an even later than usual memorandum from Nottingham. Remarkably the judge adjourned the hearing, giving us half an hour to read and work out how to deal with the memorandum.

The hearing resumed, and the judge accepted our suggestion that the memorandum was more ranting nonsense irrelevant to the costs applications.

Then he was interrupted again – another memorandum was hot off the printer. This time the judge refused to accept it.

At the end of March 2016 we got a judgment awarding us costs. The problem was, it was unclear what costs we had been awarded, it didn’t make sense. We had little choice but to go to the High Court with an appeal.

The appeal took place in Dunedin in July 2017. Again Nottingham filed late, but before the hearing this time. he appeared by AV link from Auckland.

Again Nottingham claimed we should be considered guilty because it was obvious he was right and his case was not defendable.

The judge found otherwise and the appeal judgment was in our favour, in that it suggested that as bad faith was involved in the prosecution, and as needless cost had been imposed on both defendants due to the manner in which Nottingham had conducted the prosecution, that something approaching indemnity costs might be appropriate. he sent it back to the District Court judge to set a quantum of costs.

The DC judge decided that he had sufficient information and another hearing wouldn’t be necessary. And in a supplementary judgment in October 2017 he set a quantum of costs at 50% of indemnity costs.

This was a win, although I felt that the judge had not understood the complexities of the attempted prosecution and the hopelessness of the case, nor the vexatiousness of the prosecution. But I would have been happy to leave it at that rather than appeal again. Too much time, money and court resources had already been wasted.

But of course Nottingham appealed, so back to the High Court. He filed late again, despite that sort of abuse of process being a primary reason for having costs awarded against him.

This was a virtual repeat of the first appeal. Nottingham again tried to claim we should be considered guilty, and he claimed that the onus of proof should be on defendants (except \when he is a defendant I presume). And he asked that costs not just be quashed, but reversed and awarded to him.

That’s inane. I could only claim costs billed by my lawyer when I was represented. I could not claim for my own costs, or for lost time or anything. And as far as I know the same applies to Nottingham.

There is no way he could be awarded costs for what I paid my lawyer, which a reversal would presumably mean.

Nottingham lost the second appeal. Judges tend to want good reasons for overturning decisions of other judges. There wasn’t even a legal argument involved, it was a discretionary costs award.

But prior to the appeal Nottingham had already told me he would take it to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court. He made it clear from early on that one of his aims was to inflict as much time and costs on us as he could, And unfortunately the courts kept letting him do exactly that.

So Nottingham went to the Court of Appeal seeking leave to appeal, as you have to do. He was late doing this so it’s out of time, and he also has to seek leave to do that.

This is pending, so as it is before the court I don’t want to say much about it. Submissions from both sides are required next month, with a hearing set down for 27 August – this is in Court of Appeal August fixture list (I am shown as Anor which is incorrect, I should be a separate case to Allied Press.

In the meantime the herald and Prentice have continued too, both having substantial costs awards. Nottingham’s conduct has been slammed – see NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 596 [29 March 2018] and NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 1004 [9 May 2018]. That is also going to the Court of Appeal.

The defendants in another failed private prosecution have also had large costs awards. A trial was set down for 3 days and it took three weeks, due to Nottingham’s ‘tactics’. Multiple appeals are also on the August fixture list.

A judgment creditor is filing for bankruptcy against Nottingham, who has accumulated about $250,000 in unpaid court costs. That’s ongoing and complicated, has been on the go since last year, and another story, but is partly covered in HONEY & Ors v NOTTINGHAM [2018] NZHC 575 [29 March 2018].

There’s a lot more detail of an around the attempted private prosecution, but that’s of little interest to most people.

This account is also probably too long winded and of little interest generally. So why write it?

If I had known what Nottingham was like in court proceedings three years ago when this began I would have approached it quite differently. at the time I looked and found very little. I think this is in part because he has scared off a lot of people from exposing what he does, because he is so litigious, and because he and his cronies can be very vindictive and abusive.

I suspect that even judges have pussy footed around him and let him away with far to much in part for fear of being featured on that notorious website where some judges haven’t been spared accusations, abuse and possible defamation.

Talking of defamation, there was one attempt that I think is still before the courts: see MALTESE CAT LIMITED v DOE [2017] NZHC 1634 [14 July 2017] and MALTESE CAT LIMITED v JOHN DOE AND/OR JANE DOE [2017] NZHC 1728 [25 July 2017], in which it is alleged that Nottingham used the attack website as part of a paid for campaign in a domestic dispute.

Why was I included in the private prosecutions? That’s probably a story of it’s own, but I can think of a number of possibilities:

  • Slater held a grudge against me because he has a very thin skin when held to account for crap that he does
  • Spring had a grudge against me for stopping him from using Your NZ in continuing attacks that could no longer be run on Whale Oil
  • LF had a grudge against me – they had reacted negatively when I confronted them on Twitter for making a baseless accuation
  • A post of Nottingham’s charge appeared on Your NZ and he connected that with a police/court/Herald conspiracy

I think that Nottingham et al saw me as an easy target. They tried to pressure and threaten me into pleading guilty to make it easier for them to succeed in the prosecutions of the Herald and Prentice.

And when I stood up to them and refused to buckle they did what they have done with others, they got very nasty, seeking vindictive retribution. This seems to be a common thing with them.

Slater had already found that the legal going can get tough, and seems to have distanced himself a bit, although he was still using Nottingham in legal proceedings a year ago – see BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2017] NZHC 1654 [18 July 2017]

With the conviction and sentencing, and also the bankruptcy proceedings, things finally look to be turning to custard for Nottingham, and it’s not over yet.

And I suspect that things haven’t turned out that well for his brothers or McKinney or Spring either, on top of the self trashing of any reputations they may have had.

Of course there’s a risk I may become a target of their wrath by posting this. But I think public interest – especially of anyone else who becomes a target – is important here.

 

 

Hager recap on ‘Dirty Politics’

Nicky Hager has recapped what his 2014 Dirty Politics book was about at Newsroom.

Most controversial, the book revealed that prime minister John Key had a full-time dirty tricks person in his office researching and writing nasty attacks on opposing politicians, quietly sent through to Slater to publish as if they were his own.

Slater was genuinely powerful at that time because the media, to which he fed many stories, knew he was friends with Key and justice minister Judith Collins.

Key survived as prime Minister as long as he wanted to, but Collins copped a setback as a result of what Slater called embellishment and has probably had her leadership ambitions severely hobbled by it (Slater keeps promoting her on Whale Oil, reminding people of it to Collins’ detriment).

The book’s subtitle was “How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment.” Does anyone think these aren’t issues deserving sunlight?

This certainly deserved sunlight, and good on Hager for doing that. I have serious concerns about illegal hacking (if that is what actually happened), especially in a political environment, but this was a serious abuse of political and media power that deserved exposure.

‘A boil that needed lancing’

When I decided to research and write about Slater and his associates, I knew I was taking a personal risk. They were well known for personal attacks and smears. They have hurt many people. I expected retaliation.  But I knew what I was taking on and felt strongly that this boil needed lancing.

While Dirty Politics lanced a political boil (in the Prime Minister’s office) and exposed Slater and Whale Oil, rendering them far less effective, it hasn’t stopped them from continuing with attacks and personal smears. Like many others I have been the target of dirty smears and legal attacks since Dirty Politics broke.

That they have been reduced from being a festering boil to being more like cry baby pimples that hasn’t stopped them resorting to dirty attacks. And it ‘is ‘they’ – Slater is aided and abetted on Whale Oil by others, in particular Juana Atkins and Nige who also seem to fucking people over is fair game, for click bait and seemingly for fun. I’m not sure how they sleep easy.

Dirty Politics hasn’t eliminated attack politics, but by exposing some of the worst of it the poisoning New Zealand’s political environment has been reduced. It needs more exposing and more reducing – as well as involving dirty personal attacks dirty politics is an attack on decent democracy.

Unanswered questions over Hager case

The Police gave Nicky Hager a comprehensive apology and a substantial payout after they admitted overstepping procedures and breaking the law in their investigation of Hager when they tried to find out who the hacker ‘Rawshark’ was who supplied Hager with data from Cameron Slater and his Whale oil website.

There are unanswered questions about whether ‘Rawshark’ was a sole operator or a group, whether he/she/they were hacking from the outside or whether it was an inside job (whistleblower). The police failed to find any of this out, and Hager himself claims not to know.

The police made it clear that Hager was investigated as a witness and “was not a suspect of any offending” (which made their botching of the investigation substantially more troubling).

There is a big unanswered question over why the police went to such great lengths when they have made it clear that Hager was investigated as a witness and not as a possible offender – in contrast to their investigation of another acase where Slater tried to have The Standard hacked.

Tim Watkins goes over the case and in particular asks this in More questions from the Nicky Hager case.

Slater had reported the hack to police and quite properly, the police began investigating. However, they began investigating with such vigour they broke the law and were not honest with the courts. It’s a remarkable series of events that appears to go beyond ineptitude, to something more deliberate.

In a country where victims of burglary often complain about the slow response from police and around the time that the national burglary resolution rate (2015) was a record low 9.3 per cent, it’s curious that police would expend such resources on this computer.

But most notably there were other dodgy dealings with computers in the news around the same time, as well. Dirty Politics itself revealed that Slater and National Party staffer and others had been rooting around in the back-end of the Labour Party website. Hager had alleged that one of those who had been in the site was a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office. While Police admitted in their statement yesterday that Hager “was not a suspect of any offending”, there were questions being asked at the time about the legality of that behaviour. Yet nothing so rigorous was undertaken.

Also around the same time, the victim of Rawshark’s hack – Cameraon Slater – was himself commissioning Ben Rachinger to hack The Standard website to establish whether Labour MPs and staff were anonymously writing for the Labour-aligned blog. Rachinger turned whistle blower, leading to a story by me and Lisa Owen that saw Slater finally charged with attempting to procure a hack. He admitted guilt and received diversion.

Slater had to admit guilt to qualify for diversion, but he later suggested on Whale oil that this wasn’t sincere – if so that would make it misleading the court.

I know from my work on that story and my repeated calls to police how slow they were to act on Slater’s actions.

Quite reasonably, police have pointed out that Rawshark’s actual hack (with the potential for a seven year prison sentence) was a worse offence than Slater’s attempted and failed hack (with a maximum sentence of two and a half years).

But when you consider such extensive efforts on one side (where there was serious public interest in the behaviour of people in and around government) and such reluctance to investigate on the other (where, while embarrassing, the ‘crime’ of writing anonymous blog posts was much the lesser justification for a hack), it does raise questions.

The biggest being: Why?

The next question is who: Who made the decisions to deceive the court and the third parties? Who made the decision to conduct the raid in such a way that breached his rights to journalistic privilege? Who breached the Bill of Rights by their approaches to third parties?

Who in the police was responsible, culpable, is an important question.

The dark shadow hanging over all this is political. The police investigation was into a journalist who had made serious allegations against the sitting government of the day. Those are the times when police have to be at their scrupulous best, their most transparent and their most even-handed. Yet they were not.

If the police don’t clear this up they leave a dark political shadow hanging.

At the very least the public needs clear assurances from Police bosses and the Police Ministers around that time – Anne Tolley and Michael Woodhouse – that the politics at play did not influence the investigation. Without honest and frank interviews addressing these questions, how can the public’s trust in police not be effected.

Police officials have not fully discharged their duty yet.

I agree. Perhaps the media can get some honest and frank answers from Tolley and Woodhouse.

And the police need to front up on this. Unless they do that serious questions will remain.

Blomfield v Slater trial date set

A defamation proceeding brought by Matthew Blomfield against Cameron Slater that was started in the District Court in 2012 will finally go to trial in the High Court in October. It will be judge only (no jury), and is expected to run for four weeks or six weeks (two recent judgments give different durations).

Blomfield claims he was defamed in a series of thirteen posts at Whale Oil, while Slater claims that taken in context the posts were not defamatory, and also that the posts expressed truth and honest opinion.

The publications

[6] Each of the blogs was published between 3 May and 6 June 2012. They occurred after Mr Slater came into possession of a hard drive containing emails sent to or by Mr Blomfield. Other material was also stored on the hard drive, including photographs of Mr Blomfield’s family.

This is rather ironic given the complaints Slater has made about Nicky Hager obtaining material that was hacked from Whale Oil and Slater. I don’t know whether it has been established that the hard drive was obtained illegally or not.

[7] There is no dispute for present purposes that Mr Slater caused the blogs to be published on the Whaleoil website notwithstanding the fact that the website is apparently operated by the second defendant, Social Media Consultants Limited. There can also be no dispute that the blogs related to Mr Blomfield because he was named in each. Each of the blogs also contains material that is arguably defamatory of Mr Blomfield.

In late 2017 Blomfield made a successful application joining a second defendant Social Media Consultants Limited as a party to the proceeding. This was done after Slater pointed out that the publications forming the basis of the defamation claims
are posted on a website operated by that company.  Shareholders and directors of the company are Cameron Slater and Juana Atkins.

This information and an outline of the defamation claims are detailed in two judgments available at Judicial Decisions Online:

These two judgments cover interlocutory issues and an on application by Blomfield for summary judgment and/or strike out.

They show that Slater has incurred more costs awards against him, and an application by Slater that security of costs be paid by Blomfield was declined because Slater is acting for himself so won’t be able to claim costs, unless he engages a lawyer for the trial.

Some of the arguments are related to the inability of Slater to provide emails as a part of the discovery process because they were deleted in the wake of ‘Dirty Politics’.

The judge notes that some comments in the posts “are clearly defamatory” but that Slater can argue truth and honest opinion.

[42] Despite the relatively extreme nature of Mr Slater’s assertions, and the sketchy particulars provided in support of the defences of truth and honest opinion, I am not prepared to enter summary judgment in respect of this publication. Sufficient particulars have been provided to enable Mr Slater to advance the defences at trial. He will obviously need to re-formulate his particulars so that they provide sufficient detail to enable Mr Blomfield to respond to them.

Most applications by both Blomfield and Slater were declined in the judgments. The need to finally get the proceeding to trial with no further delays was an overriding factor in some of the decisions.

This looks like a complex case. I have no idea of strength of the complaints or the defences. That will be for a judge to decide when it goes to a four or six week trial in October.

In other defamation proceedings, Slater is still waiting for a judgment in defamation claims and counter claims versus Colin Craig after a trial that concluded in June last year – see Craig v Slater – reserved decision.

Slater is involved in another defamation case started against him (and others) in August 2016, related to another series of posts at Whale Oil. This is summarised in SELLMAN & ORS v SLATER & ORS [2017] NZHC 2392 [2 October 2017]:

Summary

[1] Dr Doug Sellman, Dr Boyd Swinburn and Mr Shane Bradbrook are public health professionals. They allege they have been defamed in a series of blog posts by Mr Cameron Slater and comments on the posts by Mr Carrick Graham. They sue Mr Slater, Mr Graham and Mr Graham’s company Facilitate Communications Ltd (FCL). They also sue Ms Katherine Rich and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Inc (NZFGC) for allegedly procuring Mr Slater, Mr Graham and FCL to publish the substance and sting of the alleged defamations.

Both this proceeding and Blomfield’s allege that Slater (or Social media Consultants) was paid to do attack posts on Whale Oil. This was also alleged in Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’.

One thing is clear – defamation proceedings can be complex, time consuming and very expensive.

Dirty campaign continues at WO

Cameron Slater made debatable denials of involvement in the spreading of rumours. Both he and ‘Nige’ (Helper and problem solver for Cam Slater’s Whaleoil) have stated there was no factual basis to the rumours.

But Whale Oil has continued to run a smear campaign against Clarke Gayford. Dirty politics, and proud of it.

Posted by SB on Tuesday: Help us update the Whaleoil dictionary

Political retard A politician who has said or done something stupid politically.

Rules of politics, The rules as devised by Cam.

  1. If you are explaining, you are losing
  2.  Utu is good, even necessary
  3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too
  4. Always know where the bodies are buried
  5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels
  6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate
  7.  Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.
  8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer
  9. Speak plain, Speak Simple
  10. Remember, I’m telling this story
  11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2
  12.  Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name.

Ratf**king  Undermining or ruining someone’s reputation. Not a personal profanity but an actual political term. Google it.

Slater’s reputation is well known. He is now supported by SB (aka spanishbride aka Juana Atkins) who seems to be just about as shameless.

Who is Nige? He works in the shadows at WO, but seems to have become a major cog in the Oily machine. Ity’s easy to get dragged into things online – I wonder if he has ever stepped back and reflected on what he has become a part of.

Slater has some problems and helping perpetuate dirty smears is hardly going to solve them. It is digging deeper into the mire.

The media mostly ignores WO these days, and that seems to annoy the hell out of them because they have long seeded  stories relying on mainstream media to give them momentum.

They seem to have decided that getting dirtier will somehow make a difference. All it does is reinforce how toxic they are politically.

National leader Simon Bridges made a major faux pas yesterday, ‘liking’ a smear tweet (yet another in the dirty campaign against Clarke Gayford). This is very unfortunate for Bridges and National, who will have hoped to have put 2014’s ‘Dirty Politics’ behind them along with Jason Ede and John Key.

Now Bridges has attached himself to WO, and unless he clearly and unequivocally disassociates himself from WO and from doing dirty politics that is   stain that will be difficult to shed.

Slater may see Bridges’ balls up as an opening for Judith Collins to take over the leadership she has been seeking, but her past association with Slater and his continued championing of her must count strongly against that, unless the aim is to drag National rightwards and downwards to niche party status. Ironically Collins is one of National’s best performing MPs.

Regardless, expect the dirty campaigning to continue at WO. It seems to be the only way they know, along with whinging about being held to account for their despicable smears.

They appear to be gearing up for an attack the messenger outburst.

 

Pawns, Bishop. Who to believe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now look at the Bishop hit job with new eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue the attack on Chris Bishop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The WOBlog Party and a dirty politics encore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop, Snapchat and Dirty Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus speculation that it could have been Labour.

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

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

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

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

“Not the left. Internal Nat hit job.”

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

Note ‘suggests’. No evidence at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What National needs to do” – a transparent envelope

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

National still has no path to 61 seats and victory.

That is the key.

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

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

And so it is with National.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanya Stebbing commented:

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

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

That got 24 upticks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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