Breach of interim injunction?

The Sunday Star Times (and Stuff) may have at least come close to breaching an interim injunction, and if covered by the injunction commenters on a major New Zealand blog have fairly blatantly breached it, and has so far the blog has taken no action about it. Tony Wall wrote:

A Cabinet minister’s brother is due to appear in court this week on child indecency charges.

The man has been summonsed to appear in the District Court on Tuesday — but the man’s lawyer, high-powered Queen’s Counsel Jonathan Eaton, last night went to the High Court in Christchurch to obtain an injunction stopping the Sunday Star-Times naming the man or the minister concerned.

Last night, High Court Justice David Gendall imposed an interim injunction preventing the newspaper naming the accused and the Cabinet minister.

But the article gives enough details to make it quite easy to narrow down possibilities.

And commenters on a major New Zealand blog have fairly openly and blatantly identified the Minister. And site moderators have taken no action, despite the comments being prominent, and despite being advise of possible legal issues, and despite a moderator being active on the same post.

And despite that blog having clear policy against this behaviour.

If we and/or our lawyers feel that the the comment or post oversteps a legal bound, violates good taste, invades the privacy of people outside the public domain, or goes beyond the scope of our site – then and only then will we do something about it.

Most of the time the moderators will be harsher on offending content than any court in NZ is likely to be.

The breaches began about 8.30 am this morning and subsequent comments confirmed what was heavily hinted at.

If they have identified the Minister then it’s clearly defying the intent to prevent revealing the identity which sounds likely to be subject to a name suppression application.

And the blog management would appear to be allowing these breaches to remain on public view.

UPDATE: I’ve been advised by the blog that if they haven’t been advised of an injunction then they don’t have to stop speculation (but they are obviously aware of the injunction).

They also claim that speculation is fine as ling as it doesn’t explicitly name the people protected by the injunction (despite the collective comments clearly identifying someone).

And the claim that suppression orders “just stop people being named, not speculated on”.

That surprises me – it’s not how I understand that name suppression works, and I’m surprised this blogger is taking this position.

UPDATE2: This question has been asked on the blog:

The courts granted an injunction to prevent publication by the SST of the Minister’s name. Does that injunction apply to the public?

A response from the moderator:

Likely. As I have no idea who it is, So to conform to the reported suppression, I will just limit people saying explicitly which minister it is.

From a legal point of view that surprises me. Taken as a whole the blog thread clearly identifies the Minister.

Mind you, after the questions on how Carmel’s mothers name got into media, I am only inclined to follow the letter of suppression orders.

From a blog and political point of view that doesn’t surprise me.

‘Child indecency charges’ awkward for National

This is a different case to the one so many talk about but no one can mention, but ‘child indecency charges’ will be very awkward for National.

Stuff reports: Cabinet minister’s brother faces sex charges.

A Cabinet minister’s brother is due to appear in court this week on child indecency charges.

The man has been summonsed to appear in the District Court on Tuesday — but the man’s lawyer, high-powered Queen’s Counsel Jonathan Eaton, last night went to the High Court in Christchurch to obtain an injunction stopping the Sunday Star-Times naming the man or the minister concerned

A family member of the sex accused  said the matter was in the hands of defence lawyers.

Yesterday, the accused man’s solicitor John Westgate said it would be “entirely inappropriate” to name the man, as it would undermine his ability to apply for name suppression.

Last night, High Court Justice David Gendall imposed an interim injunction preventing the newspaper naming the accused and the Cabinet minister.

The Sunday Star-Times asked to be heard by the Court but the judge granted the injunction without giving the newspaper’s lawyer that opportunity.

The article tries to liken it to when Carmel Sepuloni’s mother faced charges but there’s no indication whether the Minister  has any responsibilities that could be related to the charges.

Sunday Star Times also narrows the field in their coverage, something media sometimes pushes the boundaries on at times.

This case is at the stage where someone is still just accused, nothing is proven.

On it’s own it may not have caused National too much bother, but with other issues they have had to try and deal with this makes things very awkward for them.

If name suppression is granted then that will increase accusations that suppression is something exploited by prominent New Zealanders.

And there’s one unique aspect – if name suppression is granted then even if justified it would make the standing down of the Minister a tad awkward, as that would give a fairly clear hint as to who might be involved.

Regardless of the severity and the chances of conviction or acquittal this is another awkward issue for National to deal with.

UPDATE: A major blog has already as good as identified the Minister.