Claim that payments were not for Whale Oil blog posts “a fiction”

Cameron Slater was back in court yesterday after failing to avoid being orally examined in a long running defamation case brought against he, Carrick Graham and others by three public health academics, Boyd Swinburn, Douglas Sellman and Shane Bradbrook.

Slater had tried to avoid appearing, claiming that as he was now bankrupt he was not liable, and that he was medically unfit. He had also for years delayed defamation proceedings brought against him by Matthew Blomfield, until finally being found to have no defence in October 2018. Damages in that case are yet to be awarded but are likely to be substantial.

In July last year the High Court ordered him to appear – from ] SELLMAN v SLATER [2019] NZHC 1666 [17 July 2019]:

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

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

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

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.

Mr Slater must comply with the orders personally if the Official Assignee cannot do so through the exercise of the Assignee’s powers. The order to be examined orally must be complied with by Mr Slater personally, subject to what I say below about his medical condition.

It finally got to court yesterday. Tim Murphy reports at Newsroom: The return of Dirty Politics

Slater and Graham had to appear in the witness box at the High Court at Auckland to provide answers to questions from the lawyers for three health academics, Boyd Swinburn, Douglas Sellman and Shane Bradbrook, who are suing the pair for defamation.

They had been attacked on the Whaleoil blog for their research and calls for public health and policy action on alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

Justice Matthew Palmer ordered Slater and Graham in late 2018 to appear to give evidence in person, but Slater had had a stroke and was incapacitated, and then in rehab, through most of last year.

Slater did not have a lawyer representing him but his former advocate Brian Henry was in the back of the courtroom, declining the possibility raised by Justice Palmer of assisting the court and Slater. Henry said he was suffering from shingles and “no longer appearing before this court”, adding he was there because it “was too good a show to miss”.

Henry said in his experience, Slater would be able to concentrate for up to an hour on the stand before the judge might notice “he starts to no longer be with this court”.

Salmon repeatedly asked if Graham had been paying Slater to publish blog posts against his clients. “No. He was not. You seem to think if that’s what you ask me again and again it will change my answer. I’ve sworn an affidavit. It’s my opinions. No one can buy those opinions.”

Asked about payments detailed in documents Graham and Slater had turned over, totalling $93,840 “from Mr Graham and his company to you and your company”, Slater said they would have been for media services, public relations advice and social media expertise, not posts themselves.

He agreed Graham was the PR man providing such media services, but added: “He needs advice on that.”

Later he said: “No one pays me for blog posts, contrary to the fantasies of Mr Hager. That’s never happened.”

I think that’s contrary to what was disclosed in the Blomfield case.

On blog posts that might have been drafted by Graham, Slater said: “They are articles that I have written about and published under my name, so therefore I take ownership of those articles but I receive briefings, as anyone in media does, about intricacies in various cases.”

Asked again if Graham had “procured you to publish” those posts, he said: “No.”

Was he paid by Graham? “I was paid for advice.”

Slater claimed he had provided in the the discovery process everything that he had, but told Salmon he had been hacked and a huge amount of damage had occurred to his IT systems. “I do not know what I do not know. If documents are not there I don’t know why they’re not there. Did they go missing? Did I delete them ? No idea. I don’t have them. They are not under my control.”

He has no idea if he deleted them?

Carrick Graham also denied he paid for blog posts against the three academics.

Salmon pointed to one invoice Graham had issued which mentioned blog posts at $300 each.

Graham: “The client realised Mr Slater would not do it for free and showed no interest in doing it for free but at the same time he heard what went on and what happened and would do a post.”

To another document Graham had provided, listing his work in ‘drafting online posts x 3″, Salmon asked if that corresponded to a line on an invoice for $900. “Possibly,” Graham answered.

Salmon wanted to know, if Graham had not paid for blogposts, whether anyone else of Graham’s clients had paid Slater direct to publish views against the academics.

Salmon used a different total to Graham than he had earlier put to Slater, for payments between his business and Slater. “Payments between your entities and Mr Slater’s entities I calculate at $124,434 – payments you have said you have made to Mr Slater. Correct?


Salmon: “Are you able to agree that there is a surprising number of invoices paid there that are divisible by $300?”

Graham: “If you say so. Could be divided by all sorts of numbers.”

He said work he did for various clients to do with alcohol, tobacco and the sugar and food industries was “about intelligence… what’s going on. Not the blog posts in question.”

Salmon: “In your own time?”

Graham: “I’m personally interested in these issues.”

Salmon told Justice Palmer that when the case goes to trial, the plaintiffs would argue the claim that payments were not for blog posts “is a fiction”.

One can make their own conclusions about this, but it will be up to the court to decide on whether payments were made for posts or whether they were just coincidental payments for other work done that had nothing to do with the Whale Oil  posts.

I can imagine what Slater would be saying if this was someone else making claims like this.

Setbacks for Slater, Graham in defamation proceedings

Cameron Slater has been the defendant in three defamation proceedings.

Versus Colin Craig a recent judgment found that Slater had defamed Craig but Craig had harmed his own reputation and no costs would be awarded to either. Craig has indicated he will appeal this decision.

Also recently Matthew Blomfield finally (after 6 years trying) got Slater to trial. It appears that later had little or no defence and could potentially face substantial costs, but that is all happening behind the scenes.

And the third proceeding has come up in the courts and news, still pre-trial. Newsroom: Whaleoil and Peters’ lawyer suffer court setbacks

The Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater has lost a bid to have hacked documents obtained by author Nicky Hager excluded from a High Court defamation case.

Slater, and a co-defendant Carrick Graham the son of former national minister Sir Douglas Graham, have also been ordered to front-up in court ahead of the defamation hearing to answer questions from the lawyers for the three health professionals who are suing them for defamation.

Justice Matthew Palmer ordered the cross examination in the court room because Slater and Graham had not cooperated satisfactorily with the written questioning from lawyers for medical researchers Doug Sellman, Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook.

Justice Palmer’s decisions were the latest setbacks for Slater and his lawyer Brian Henry, the longtime barrister for New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, in the defamation case.

The three health professionals sued Slater, Graham, ex National MP Katherine Rich and her Food and Grocery Council for defamation after Hager’s Dirty Politics book revealed emails and communications linking the defendants in blog posts critical of the three men.

NZ Herald: Hacked emails allowed in Cameron Slater cash for comment defamation case – judge

Blogger Cameron Slater, lobbyist Carrick Graham and former MP Katherine Rich have failed in their bid to have hacked emails excluded from a defamation case.

The High Court has also ruled that Slater and Graham will have to take the stand to be “orally examined” during trial, as their written answers so far have been “inconsistent”.

And all three defendants have been ordered to provide more paperwork to the plaintiffs – a trio of health experts – particularly around what payment agreements were made between them.

Slater, who writes the WhaleOil blog, is accused of being paid to write the posts by ex-National MP Rich through her employer the Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC).

They accuse Graham, son of the former National cabinet minister Sir Douglas Graham, of being the middle man.

Previously, the defendants tried to get the case struck out, but the court declined.

A jury trial should go ahead next year; High Court Judge Matthew Palmer issued a second judgement on preliminary matters before trial today.

In it, the judge declined Slater’s application to exclude hacked documents obtained by the plaintiffs from Nicky Hager – the author of Dirty Politics – at this stage.

He also said the defendants had not complied with discover. While Slater disclosed 32 documents, other than blog posts, including 27 individual emails to or from Rich – there was no evidence of payments received and only one document containing data from the Whale Oil website.

Graham disclosed 172 documents including four emails from Slater and 114 emails to or from Rich or NZFGC. None of the discovered emails to or from Rich pre-dated the publication of Dirty Politics, the judge said.

Rich and NZFGC disclosed around 1200 documents, including 24 items of correspondence with Graham. No correspondence with Slater was included.

The judge said there were grounds for believing Slater and Graham had not provided some documents, and requested they be provided.

Some documents about payments were included, revealing the fact Graham’s company received $365,814 from NZFGC over about five years.

But he wanted a more precise account of the terms and scope of services between Rich and/or the NZFGC and Slater or Graham including any associated documents.

He said the hacked emails would not be struck out because he was not persuaded they were not genuine.

After examining Graham and Slater’s answers to interrogatories, the judge said he was concerned their statements that WhaleOil did not publish blogposts for reward were “not consistent” with the plaintiff’s evidence.

“They are inconsistent with reasonable inferences from the emails obtained by the plaintiffs,” the judgment said.

In other words, the judge has concerns that Slater and Graham have not provided documents under discovery that they should have – and it seems that hacked emails provide evidence suggesting that they haven’t complied. This could be a serious matter, hence the call to answer to the court at a hearing.

“I am also concerned a number of other aspects of the interrogatories may not have been properly responded to, regarding: who was the author of the blog posts; the involvement of each of the defendants in their preparation; downloading of blog posts; authorship of the comments; and payments received. I consider Mr Slater and Mr Graham have made insufficient answer to the interrogatories. “

He said the pair would be required to take the stand for up to an hour during trial.

An important question to be answered is whether Slater, or the company he is director of and jointly owns with his wife Juana Atkins, Social Media Consultants Limited, have been paid to post hit jobs. Nicky Hager suggested money haad been paid in his book Dirty Politics.

Meanwhile possibly not coincidentally and somewhat at odds with what the judge is saying, on Wednesday at Whale Oil:  Whaleoil is not free and telling the truth costs

To continue to service our Oiler community with real-life get-togethers and interesting and entertaining content we have had to think outside of the box as telling the truth can have legal consequences that put a massive strain on the blog’s finances.

Embellishing the truth and making up allegations are more likely to have legal consequences, and can be far more costly.

We don’t want to put out the begging bowl so have instead been working hard on finding alternative revenue streams that give our supporters something fantastic in return.

All this litigation is expensive, even without awards of costs and damages.

It can also be a strain on well being. As far as I know this is till undisclosed at Whale Oil, and Slater’s sudden absence from posts and comments a couple of weeks ago is still unexplained (the absence of curiosity or comment about his absence in comments is very odd).

I have heard claims that Slater may have suffered from one or two strokes and is to some extent incapacitated. Perhaps WO management thinks that telling the truth about this will be expensive if it adversely effects fundraising. Perhaps spanish bride can explain the truth when she reads this.




Sellman, Swinburn, Bradbrook v Slater, Graham, Rich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is an interesting and important ruling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the applications to strike out were denied.

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

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

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

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

The full judgment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This case has taken a long time.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Many more details followed, including:

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

And from

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

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

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

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

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

Dirty prosecution, dirty blogging

A case involving a dirty private prosecution and associated dirty blogging has surfaced again.

NZ Herald:  Lawyer waged ‘personal vendetta’ against ex husband and Kristin School head Peter Clague

A lawyer who embarked on an “orchestrated campaign” to destroy her former husband’s professional career, cause him distress and gain advantage in a property dispute could be struck off after being found guilty of misconduct.

Jeanne Denham breached professional standards and “tarnished the reputation of the profession” through an abuse of court process, a just-released Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal decision has found.

The decision sets out the lengths she went to damage her former spouse, then Kristin School principal Peter Clague. It reveals private emails and texts detailing a secret media strategy against him labelled akin to “waging a personal vendetta”.

The decision is now under appeal, with Denham’s lawyer Warren Pyke warning that the events were highly personal and emotional, involving “flawed human beings” going through an intimate relationship breakup.

Denham took a private prosecution against Clague after police declined to lay charges over an alleged assault at the couple’s Greenhithe home in 2010.

The case was eventually thrown out by a judge as an abuse of process designed to inflict maximum damage on Clague and Kristin School, and to help Denham gain the upper hand in a property claim against Clague.

She was ordered to pay nearly $146,000 in costs, which remains outstanding after Denham declared herself bankrupt.

It’s not uncommon for marital disputes to turn nasty but the lengths gone to here are extraordinary, including abusing legal processes through a private prosecution – using the court as a weapon in a dispute.

And a blog was also used as a weapon.

Nicky Hager claimed in ‘Dirty Politics’ that Whale Oil was used as a paid for attack blog, and that is what happened in this case.

Evidence included a trove of emails and text messages between Denham and PR merchant Carrick Graham, who helped organise damaging, paid posts about Clague and Kristin School on the Whale Oil attack blog.

In an email exchange in November 2012, Graham wrote that the campaign had already generated media coverage, forcing the school board to issue two letters to parents.

“It would be safe to say that Clague has had the blow-torch applied to him in terms of a much wider audience being aware of his actions. In terms of reputational hits he is damaged goods.”

In another exchange after a Whale Oil post alleging Kristin board members had known about the allegations and done nothing, Denham wrote that “Cameron’s blog is starting to generate interest in the Kristin community. It’ll spread like wildfire now!”

This was back in the days when Whale Oil had some clout.

Throwing out Denham’s case, Judge David McNaughton ruled: “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this private prosecution has been brought for an ulterior motive by the complainant, that is primarily to destroy [Clague’s] career and reputation and collaterally to damage Kristin School and at the same time to obtain an advantage in pressing the relationship claim.

“Furthermore … she knowingly and actively sought to subvert the operation of suppression orders with the assistance of Mr Graham and Cameron Slater and that in itself constitutes a serious abuse of process.”

Slater has never addressed the allegations made by and detailed by Hager, but this is evidence of paid for dirty blogging.

It’s not the only example that has made it into the courts. The high profile multiple defamation cases involving Colin Craig and Whale Oil and Slater may or may not have involved money, but it looked like a political and personal hit job.

Another case that has slowly made it’s way though the courts is another defamation case alleging possibly paid for attack posts run on Whale Oil against businessman Matthew Blomfield.

This is the latest ruling in the High Court but the defamation case will be largely through the District Court (not available online).

When as a part of that legal process Slater made a legal commitment not to attack Blomfield it spilled over here in 2015, with an associate of Slater using multiple pseudonyms to attack Blomfield at Your NZ. This appeared to breach Slater’s gag order.

Slater was also involved with the attempt by Marc Spring to gag Your NZ through a court order in 2015. This appeared to be a mix of malice and retaliation.

This threatened to shut down this site and imprison me. This farce was thrown out when the judge was advised he had been duped by legal incompetents. Their claims were fabricated, they didn’t follow defined procedures, and the law they used (the Harmful Digital Communications Act) didn’t come into affect for another year.

This isn’t the only time Slater has been involved in abuse of court processes against me, and there have been threats of more recently.

There is another defamation case against Slater, and also involving Carrick Graham and the use of Whale Oil as an attack blog, that is presumably still in progress – see Blogger Cameron Slater faces defamation action from health researchers.

Three top health professionals have lodged a defamation claim against blogger Cameron Slater and PR consultant Carrick Graham alleging a long running campaign against them on the Whale Oil website.

Auckland University professor Boyd Swinburn, Otago professor Doug Sellman and the director of Maori agency Shane Bradbrook said they had filed proceedings in the High Court at Auckland on Monday.

The trio said in a statement their proceedings related to blog posts and comments published on the Whale Oil website over a number of years.


So the ‘personal vendetta’ in a marital dispute that involved Slater and Graham and Whale Oil is just one example of a history of dirty blogging.

Whale Oil is far less prominent now, and the media don’t spread their campaigns any more, but posts under the authorship of ‘Cameron Slater’ will now continue to be under some suspicion of being a part of personal vendettas and/or paid for attacks.

See also this insight from 2015 into some of the Carrick/Slater mentality and Modus Operandi: Carrick Graham: Without Apologies

More dirty blogging at Whale Oil revealed

Another court case has revealed more mercenary dirty blogging at Whale Oil by Cameron Slater. This was mentioned in comments here recently from news reports. A court judgment on costs reveals more details.

Stuff reported: Ex-Kristin principal recoups costs from ex-wife who judge said tried to ‘destroy’ him

A former top principal has been awarded $145,811 in court costs after his ex-wife allegedly tried to ruin his reputation.

Former Kristin School head Peter Clague was last year hauled to the Auckland District Court to answer a charge of assault – to which Judge David McNaughton quickly put an end.

in July last year Judge McNaughton threw the charge out, saying a jury would have been unable to convict and that the case had been brought in bad faith.

Clague has since sought costs for the court exercise, with his lawyer arguing that aside from bringing the prosecution in bad faith, Denham had also failed to respond to court directives or provide disclosure.

She had also allegedly launched a “sustained vicious and untrue media campaign on the part of Carrick Graham and [WhaleOil blogger] Cameron Slater”. 

Carrick Graham featured significantly in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’, for example in the paragraph named ‘Cash For Comments’ :

Cameron Slater willingly published years of pro-tobacco company spin as his own writing, some written by Graham…He then used the payments he received from Graham…”

And from the chapter titled ‘Chaos and Mayhem Limited’:

It is likely that Graham used the Whale Oil blog for various other clients…

An example of this was  the executive principal of a North Auckland private school who was in a matrimonial dispute with his exp-wife in late 2012. She hired Carrick Graham ‘to whom she was referred by her lawyer’ and a concerted character assassination began on Whale Oil.

The first post appeared on 24 October 2012, marked ‘via the tip line’ and hinted about a complaint made by the ex-wife…Posts followed on 28 and 30 October, then 3, 4, 6 and 8 November.

When a student tried to stick up for the principal in the Whale Oil comments, Salter responded ‘Is he running one up you too?’

That last comment was on the November 4 post titled ‘You Read it Here First’. It appears that the other posts are also still on public display.

Details of the Court judgment (made on 1 March 2016, published 11 July 2016) are available at Jackman v Clague [2016] NZDC 3266. This includes these paragraphs.

[9] In addition, Mr Lloyd sought to emphasise what he described as a sustained vicious and untrue media campaign on the part of Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater culminating in articles in the UK press as the defendant arrived there in August 2014 to take up a new position. He emphasised the collateral damage to the Kristin school community and submitted there was a very strong need for deterrents of bad faith prosecutions of this sort.

I would add bad faith blogging to that.

Paragraph [33] quotes from an earlier decision:

“I also observe that at the same time the informant was saying she was unable to remunerate a legal adviser and therefore required “pro bono” assistance, she was quite prepared to pay substantial fees to Mr Graham for his assistance in her approaching the media. She has also apparently decided to continue with these proceedings despite no doubt having been warned of a very serious cost implication should the defendant be found not guilty.”


Whenever I expose an issue that others are trying to keep quiet, the tip line literally explodes with new information. As I have always said, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

I don’t think Slater has ever explained that ‘tip line’ might refer to tips paid to him for posting dirty attacks, but I don’t think he has denied being a mercenary blogger, doing paid for online hit jobs.

And Whale Oil is, or at least was, a dirty mercenary blog. Pete Belt appears to have been directly involved at least later in the campaign against Clague.

From BET HE WAS REGISTERED, NOW HE’S RUNNING AWAY, which led with “Escaping New Zealand and a history of domestic assault means the UK now get a wife beater” Belt wrote in comments (note the use of ‘we’):

Fair call. The beating reference was because we call these people “wife beaters”, but you are absolutely correct. He is reported as having grabbed her by the throat and thrown her onto the stairs. No reference to beating.

So I should have said “Maurice doesn’t strangle his wife and throws her onto the stairs either”, to be fair.

‘Corporate refugee’ in response:

Well we don’t know that he did that either, it was “reported” (alleged really) by the person that is trying to bring the prosecution against him. Hopefully the court might be able to find out if it happened or not.


Oh, don’t be pedantic. Apart from the fact that we do know. Whaleoil has direct knowledge in this case.

Whaleoil has a direct witness that was there when it did take place. What are your credentials beyond having a contrary opinion.

‘Corporate refugee’ was allowed to make a number of comments (this thread was in May 2014, just before the Belt driven purges began at Whale Oil).

The importance obviously attached by Ms Jackman to ensuring that the story (i.e. that she has taken out a private prosecution) was made public before any name suppression could be obtained speaks volumes. It would appear that the main (sole?) objective of her actions is to create maximum negative publicity and damage to Mr Clague.

I suspect that she already realises that the outcome of the hearing is likely to be the same as the police investigation (inconclusive), but of course it does give her the opportunity to create a bit more humiliation. But only with a media mouthpiece.

If her motive were genuinely to seek some sort of personal justice for herself through the courts for what was a private incident, why would it be so important for her have as much publicity as possible about it in the media?

There’s a number of quite familiar aspects in all of this. As well as a number of what appear to be campaigns with commercial interests involving Slater and Graham, Whale Oil has been used in a number of attempts at character assassination. The campaign against Blomfield is one – that is still going through the Court, with incremental legal and financial losses mounting for Slater.

There are other well publicised defamation cases under way targeting Slater – Graham seems to have been able to escape direct legal attention so far.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if there is more sunlight yet to shine on dirty blogging and associated abuse of legal processes involving Slater, Whale Oil, and others.

On ‘The Whale’s model’

Danyl at The Dim-Post has posted on The Whale’s model.

You’ve got to give Cameron Slater credit – he is/was an innovator in the media space, creating a new and unique business model I think of as ‘defamation PR’. Lobbyists like Carrick Graham, Katherine Rich and who knows who else could collaborate with him to defame public health researchers doing work critical of their employers. No one else figured out how to monetise blogging in New Zealand.

This sort of monetising of blogging (or use of attack blogging by anonymous PR people) was already already known about but got substantial exposure in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics.

Unfounded and defamatory attacks by bloggers and is a serious issue, I know well as I’ve been on the receiving end from the likes of Slater and Lauda Finem.

I’m dubious about the benefits of taking defamation action due to the cost and the timeframe let alone the effectiveness, and some people seem to take advantage of this by attacking people due to the low risk of defamation action, like Slater.

And Slater is practiced at dragging things out. He has admitted misusing court processes to inflict costs on people or organisations (he openly admitted this  when trying to play down losing a bid to keep suppression on the case he got diversion on after he admitted attempting to procure a hack of The Standard).

But I can understand people getting fed up with his ongoing and at times over the top attacks with highly questionable motives behind them.

Slater is acting gung ho over the latest defamation action against him but on top of two others it will continue to wear him down.

He claims to be simply holding health researchers to account, but an interesting point was made on this in comments at Dim-Post, comparing Slater’s attacks with Eric Crampton’s critiques.


Whether you like it or not, Slater raises a valid point about “public health advocates” that are basically funded by the state and their zealous advocacy against “the sugar barons” against any other causes of why people get fat. How dare someone who gets tax payers money get questioned!


So much public health stuff that gets into the media are examples of the worst of social science, vast claims for at best modest results. Eric Crampton is very good on applying some very basic scrutiny to their claims.

Flashing Light:

“How dare someone who gets tax payers money get questioned!”

Are the researchers suing Eric Crampton for defamation? No? Then you see the difference between legitimately “questioning” research claims/policy advice and what Slater did, right?

This new defamation action may highlight the difference between Crampton style scrutiny, questioning and holding to account, which tends to be fact based, and Slater style attacks that may be funded by anonymous PR people like Carrick Graham, which has at times in the past aimed nastily at the people rather than giving counter arguments to the issues.

Eric Crampton posts at Offsetting Behaviour.

Cameron Slater (and allegedly Carrick Graham) post at Whale Oil.

Slater has posted on the new defamation action in Defamation? They’ll need to get in line where he got a wee warning in comments:

Unfortunately the ‘other side’s’ lawyers supported by judges take a very dim view of defendants posting claim and associated documents on the internet for the world to see and if appropriate to laugh at.

However Slater can be deaf to good advice.

I suspect it is being privately funded, I suspect a couple of people actually, which will make for interesting reading when that comes to light.


Truth and honest held opinion. The opinion one is fascinating. You can be completely wrong, but escape defamation if you believed what you said at the time was true based on the evidence you held.

But mostly the burden of proof in defamation rests with the defence, it is the reverse of criminal cases. Many plaintiffs forget this, and think they are going to run this long involved “prosecution” only to find out that defamation doesn’t work that way.

And in his post:

The Three Troughketeers have stated they won’t say another word about it until the case has completed. I won’t make such an unrealistic commitment. And I will continue to monitor and report on their public communications and spending while the case is before the courts. If they were hoping for their legal action to result in silence, they can chalk that up as their first strategic error.

However it’s on record that Slater does not have a good record in court actions. Nor on not being silent.

The Whale’s model is floundering somewhat.


Legal problems and hypocrisy mounts

It’s hard to know what is mounting more, Cameron Slater’s legal problems or his hypocrisy.

He is now facing another defamation case, this time from three public health researchers who have featured in a number of posts at Whale Oil over the years.

Defamation proceedings against Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater

13th June 2016

Today, we have filed defamation proceedings in the High Court at Auckland against Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater.

The proceedings relate to a series of blog posts and comments published on the Whale Oil website. For some years, Whale Oil has published articles with a negative focus on various public health experts and advocates. It was not until the book Dirty Politics was published in August 2014 that it became clear Carrick Graham was involved in the publication of material on Whale Oil.

We had hoped things would change, but the various articles and comments remain live on Whale Oil, and Mr Slater has continued to publish further material. Accordingly, we have decided to bring these proceedings to address what we claim is a campaign of deliberate and sustained defamation.

While we will continue to speak and write on important public health issues, we will be making no further comment on the matters at issue in the defamation proceedings as they are properly dealt with by the Court.

Professor Doug Sellman
Professor Boyd Swinburn
Shane Bradbrook

Slater has responded via NBR (paywalled):

Public health researchers’ defamation claim is ‘vexatious bullying’ – Slater ($)


Bullying, trying to silence critics, being vexatious and being involved in frivolous legal processes could easily be self descriptions of Slater.

It’s hard to know if he’s blind to his hypocrisy or he just doesn’t care about how it looks.

And it seems this is only one of Slater’s problems today. Veutoviper posted this at The Standard:

This afternoon a case management conference is also being held in the Auckland High Court before Judge Asher re the ongoing case between Slater and Matthew Blomfield, with each of them representing themselves.

A couple of weeks ago, Slater dropped his appeal against an earlier decision by Judge Asher in relation to this defamation case against Slater, so it will be interesting to see the outcome of today’s conference, although it may not be made public.

Slater has been trying to drag this out for years. His legal argument losses have been accumulating and he recently gave up on an appeal. That means that it must just about be time for the court file to be unsealed so Slater’s sources are revealed, something he had been trying hard to avoid.




Whale Oil’s Palino problems

Whale Oil has a number of tricky problems with John Palino’s second bid for the Auckland mayoralty.

Whale Oil broke the Len Brown affair story following the last election, and Palino’s first attempt since then to distance himself from attempts to force Brown out of office and promote Palino after coming a distance second in the election was a bit of a train wreck.

While Palino claims that Cameron Slater is not on his campaign team Slater is reported to have arranged a recent interview between Palino and Fairfax, and long time associates of Slater, Simon Lusk and Carrick Graham, are leading Palino’s campaign.

Lusk and Graham have used Whale Oil inn the past to promote things and to attack people.

Whale Oil has already run a number of attacks on other mayoral candidates, particularly current front runners Phil Goff and Vic Crone but he has also trashed Mark Thomas.

In the past Slater has been highly critical of Palino, having once said “He’s severely tainted and doesn’t deserve to have a second go, no matter how early his image revitalisation run is started” – see Slater: “Palino…severely tainted”.

But Slater has done a u-turn, unsurprisingly promoting Palino (and criticising Goff and Crone) following yesterday’s launch – Now Aucklanders have a choice…rates increases or rates decreases.

But even this received a lukewarm and critical response in comments.

Now anything posted on Whale Oil regarding the mayoralty will be viewed with even more suspicion than usual as to the motives, and whether content is being paid for by Palino’s campaign or not.

Any ‘tips’ and scoops will be scrutinised more for their likely source than their content.

As far as the mayoralty goes it’s hard to see and credible journalism or “Whale Oil Media”.

And the mainstream media – an essential component of a political campaign – are not going to do Whale Oil nor Palino any favours.

Whale Oil and Slater are as severely tainted as Palino.


Palino’s Whale sized problems

John Palino found out at his Auckland mayoralty campaign launch yesterday that he is going to find it difficult separating himself from Cameron Slater and Whale Oil.

In response to a question Palino said “Whaleoil is NOT working for me. Why do you keep saying that?”

The answer is obvious, and the question is likely to keep being asked through Palino’s campaign.

Palino has engaged one of Slater’s closest associates Simon Lusk to run his campaign.

Another long time Slater associate Carrick Graham was assisting Palino at his launch yesterday.


John Palino and Carrick Graham at mayoralty campaign launch

And it was reported that Slater arranged an interview for Palino with Fairfax that was published in the weekend.

Slater was heavily involved in the Len Brown affair revelations after the last election, which included apparent attempts to force Brown out of office. There were suggestions of blackmail and fabricated evidence.

Palino says he knew nothing about all this but these associations are likely to hover over his campaign unless he can find a way of dealing with them.

At his launch Palino said “I don’t play dirty”.  So why his he using two central characters of ‘Dirty Politics’, Lusk and Graham, with the star of dirt Slater apparently involved?

At the very least that’s a very risky political gamble.

And his first response to media didn’t help his ‘no dirt’ insistence

“Look I don’t know why people are going on about that. I wasn’t the one caught with his pants down in the Ngati Whatua Room. Next question please.”

That low blow appeared like a hammy delivery of a prepared line straight out of a Whale’s mouth. In fact there are numerous examples of similar at Whale Oil. Like this from last June:

Today’s face of the day is Auckland Mayor Len Brown who may end up better known for breaking his promises to rate payers than being caught with his pants down in the Ngati Whatua room.

Palino has a huge challenge trying to separate himself from Whale Oil and dirt.

INCITE review

The first newsletter from INCITE: Politics, edited by Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater, ws distributed yesterday. It has been promoted on Whale Oil and on Kiwiblog.

Whale Oil gave a summary of content. I’ll give some of my impressions.

In short it may be of interest to people keen on the machinations of politics but at $35 per newsletter the market may be limited.

Little in trouble – David Farrar writes about the fundamental problem for Andrew Little, his negative approval rating, and contrasts it with the very popular John Key.

This is backed by some interesting poll results but from a barely adequate 500 sample size, as shown by this.

M.E. = margin of error.

Farrar doesn’t provide any details of margin of error, polling method, polling period.

The Route to Victory – Simon Lusk considers the potential routes to victory and the relative institutional strengths of both the Labour and the National parties in the 2017 election.

Interesting but fundamental politics. Labour’s problems with fundraising have been well known for years. Little you wouldn’t see in public commentary.

Ten Questions – Winston Peters takes the time to give some thoughtful answers to some important political questions.

Peters sounds typically cagey, not much revealed here.

Politician of the Year – Review our choice for the inaugural INCITE: Politics Politician of the year.

Awarding this to Winston Peters seems funny, having got him to answer some questions. Sure Peters pull off a by-election heist but doesn’t seem to have built on that.

The Advent of the Media Party – Cam Slater writes about why the media have moved from neutral, dispassionate observers to players in the political game, and why the public no longer trusts them.

This is a continuation of a series of posts at Whale Oil that includes swipes at Dirty Politics, Nickey hager and Kim Dotcom so it’s more same old rant than revelation.

I don’t think it’s just in “recent years” that media have decided to engage in political activity.

Pundits & Media –  Cam Slater’s view on the New Zealand media, with a counter view from Simon Lusk.   

Little that he hasn’t been saying over and over on Whale Oil.

The Grey Economy – Carrick Graham writes about the massive amounts of taxpayer money that goes to nanny state promoting NGOs.

Interesting and informed comment.

How to win at Politics – Cam Slater builds a case for the need for politics to be meritocratic.

Slater dissing MPs he has slated on Whale Oil and promoting others  is a real problem, given that it’s known that Slater has promoted some MPs and attacked others for payment.

Maori Politics – Willie Jackson makes observations about the future of the Maori Seats, and whether the Maori Party can regain the seats it lost in 2014.

A bit of insight from a Maori perspective but little more than personal commentary.

Future Contenders – Simon Lusk explains the election process for Labour & National party leaders, providing background for a future series of articles on aspiring Prime Ministers and Leaders.

Mostly well known information with a small bit of commentary.

Sex Offenders –  David Garrett from the Sensible Sentencing Trust discusses how the justice system is still skewed towards the rights of sex offenders, not victims.

This looks odd in the mix promoting some policy by someone who doesn’t seem to have much say in party policy any more.

Local Politician of the Year – We have two contenders and people may be surprised by our choices.

Interesting but just commentary on the past year, which is funny given Slater’s comments promoting INCITE two days ago:

Firstly this report and the coming monthly reports are a bit different. All the contributors in the first issue and contributors in coming issues have signed up to deliver their thoughts in this report because it is going to be different. We are going to be forward looking not backwards looking. Have a look at all the political commentary since parliament rose for the break. It is all about what happened in the past year and nothing at all about what should happen.

There’s nothing wrong with looking back, as INCITE does naming  Politician of the Year and Local Government Politician of the Year, but Slater looks silly here.

Recommendations: Book, Podcast, Video & Web Site recommendations for those serious about politics.

Could be of interest to some people.

Another section called Dirty Rat is half a dozen snippets of political gossip without naming anyone. This seems odd.

Overall there’s some interesting sections in INCITE but it also seems to be an extension of Slater’s posts at Whale Oil that dtreact more than add value.

Spme will be happy to pay for this. Most probably won’t.