Do Greenpeace causes deserve immunity from prosecution?

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this – protests and degrees of lawbreaking and importance of causes can vary a lot.

But Russel Norman and co-defendant Sara Howell are claiming that if they are convicted for “low level civil disobedience” it would prevent other protests for fear of prosecution.

There are ways to protest without breaking the law, but that’s not part of this story.

Stuff:  Greenpeace activists oil ship protest was just ‘low level disobedience’

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman and fellow activist Sara Howell appeared in Napier District Court on Friday to apply for a discharge without conviction after admitting a charge of interfering with an oil exploration vessel.

The prosecution

Crown prosecutor Cameron Stuart said the pair caused significant disruption and danger and there was a high level of perseverance and premeditation by the defendants, as evidenced by the fact they acknowledged they rehearsed their moves in advance.

Their actions posed huge risk to them and to the ship’s crew and sensationalised what would have been a peaceful and legal activity”.

“This hearing is not about the morality of the law. It’s not about oil. It’s not about climate change,” Stuart said.

He said the consequences of a conviction would not be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending. He said the pair had leveraged what they called an “unjust prosecution” as a means of publicising their views.

This raised questions as to how their reputation could be damaged if they were convicted, he said.

The defence

Norman and Howell were represented by Ron Mansfield, said the pair were devoted to fighting climate change and the burning of fossil fuels.

Their views were genuine, well-held, and designed to care for generations to come, Mansfield said.

He said the pair had entered the water at a distance from the vessel that permitted it to avoid them without too much disruption.

He said the danger had been “completely overstated” and the pair could have been removed from the water at any time.

Mansfield said the offending was “low level civil disobedience” and it would be concerning if others undertaking such protests were prevented from doing so because they feared being convicted.

The judge

Judge Arthur Tompkins said that argument “cut both ways” and there may be an argument as to why a conviction was necessary.

Judge Tompkins said other protesters had been convicted in the past and this had not had the “chilling effect” Mansfield suggested.

The verdict – not yet

Judge Tompkins reserved his decision. The pair were remanded until September 24.

The pair faced a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to $50,000 for the offence of interfering with or coming within 500m of an offshore ship involved in oil exploration.

The discussion

Protest is an important part of a democratic country.

Laws are generally to protect safety and freedoms.

The offence of interfering or coming close to a ship involved in exploration was contentious. From NZ Petroleum & Minerals:

People are free to protest on the water as they are on land – provided they do not interfere with structures or vessels involved in lawful petroleum and minerals activities.

While a number of laws cover activities at sea, provisions specific to offshore petroleum and minerals activities were introduced following protests that hindered a seismic survey vessel in 2011.

In May 2013 the Crown Minerals Act 1991, which governs the allocation of the Crown’s petroleum and mineral resources, was amended. New offences were introduced for damaging or interfering with structures or ships being used offshore in prospecting, exploration and mining activities – including incursions into specified Non Interference Zones.

Green MP Gareth Hughes in parliament 13 April 2017:

GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she agree with Dr Russel Norman, who said that section 101B(1)(c) of the Crown Minerals Act 1991, known as the Anadarko Amendment, was “put in place by the Government to protect the interest of big oil and to stifle dissent”?

If the “Anadarko Amendment” is all about protecting people’s safety, why does it apply only to the oil and mining industries, and is this simply a case of one law for us and one law for oil?

Can the Minister confirm that that 2013 amendment, used to charge Dr Norman, was passed under urgency with no consultation and received no New Zealand Bill of Rights Act check, and that polls at the time showed 79 percent of Kiwis wanted to see it withdrawn or sent back to committee?

I remember the opposition to the bill, but I don’t remember the poll, and I can’t find it..

 

 

Weinstein in court on sex crime charges

Harvey Weinstein revelations and accusations triggered the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment, especially involving people in positions of power. Many women have claimed improper behaviour over decades, and Weinstein was the subject of many.

For the first time, Weinstein has been charged and has appeared in court in New York. This may be the tip of a legal iceberg for him.

Reuters: Movie mogul Weinstein handcuffed in court to face sex crime charges

Film mogul Harvey Weinstein appeared in handcuffs in a New York court on Friday to face charges of rape and other sex crimes against two of the scores of women who have accused him of misconduct, ending his reign as a Hollywood kingpin.

Weinstein, the 66-year-old co-founder of the Miramax film studio and the Weinstein Co, intends to plead not guilty to the two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act, his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters outside the Manhattan courthouse.

Prosecutors did not identify the two women, but said the crimes took place in 2004 and 2013. If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between five and 25 years in prison.

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women, with some of the cases dating back decades, has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.

The accusations, first reported last year by the New York Times and the New Yorker, gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women have publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of misconduct.

Weinstein earlier turned himself in at a lower Manhattan police station around 7:25 a.m. EDT (1125 GMT). He carried thick books under his right arm, including what appeared to be biographies of Broadway musical legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Elia Kazan, the director of such classic Hollywood films as “On the Waterfront.”

About 90 minutes later, Weinstein was led by officers into court in handcuffs, grimacing with his head bowed, his books nowhere in sight, to await arraignment.

“This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said at Weinstein’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Judge Kevin McGrath ordered Weinstein released on $1 million cash bail. The defendant surrendered his U.S. passport and agreed to wear a monitoring device that tracks his location, confining him to the states of New York and Connecticut.

An irony on the legal privileges of the wealthy:

Google and other problems with NZ suppression law

Court suppression orders are difficult to deal with in the Internet age.

In the past media like newspapers had court reporters who were aware of what cases were suppressed and complied with suppression orders where appropriate.

But social media has introduced major problems – it is easy for just about anyone to say things (publish) online, but it is impossible for most of us to know what is suppressed, so we don’t know what can’t be legally published.

And another big problem is that major online content providers/publishers are based out of New Zealand, like Google, Facebook and Twitter. And Google says they are not bound by New Zealand law.

NZH: Google ‘thumbs its nose’ at New Zealand courts – lawyer

In high-profile cases covered by the Herald in recent months, Google NZ along with New Zealand’s major media outlets have been served with orders which suppress details and require the removal of content that infringes on privacy or fair trial rights.

However, Google says it’s “not in the business of censoring news” and won’t comply because its search engine is bound by the laws enforced at its home, the Googleplex, in California’s Silicon Valley.

The result means some information suppressed by New Zealand’s courts can be revealed in a Google search.

The problems and Google’s place in New Zealand’s courtrooms was an issue last year during the High Court retrial of double-killer Zarn Tarapata.

An interim take-down order for all content related to Tarapata’s first trial was made to protect his fair trial rights and suppress evidence which was ruled inadmissible.

The Herald and other media organisations opposed the order but were ultimately forced to comply and removed stories about Tarapata’s first trial to avoid being held in contempt of court.

However, despite having an Auckland office, Google NZ said it couldn’t remove details of the stories from its searchable records.

In an affidavit to the court, Google NZ software engineer Joseph Bailey, wrote: “Google New Zealand Limited has no ability to comply with the interim orders.”

He explained that the Google search engine, Google LLC, was a separate legal entity incorporated in the US, meaning New Zealand’s courts and laws held no power over it.

The company also said it would require a “perpetual review” to find the “trillions of webpages currently existing on the web, but also those which are subsequently created” that breached the court orders.

…a Google spokesman said: “We don’t allow these kinds of autocomplete predictions or related searches that violate laws or our own policies and we have removed examples we’ve been made aware.”

He said while Google NZ was bound by New Zealand laws, Google LLC was not.

“Google LLC prefers for news publishers to make their own decisions about whether their content should be available online,” he said.

Even for small publishers it can be a daunting task trying to monitor all content, especially when not knowing what is suppressed by court orders.

Prominent human rights and privacy lawyer Michael Bott said Google was “thumbing its nose” and “expressing a high-degree of arrogance” at court orders, threatening fair trial rights and due process.

Bott accepted however it was a “fine line” between attempting to control Google – like China – and protecting the foundations of a liberal democracy.

“In a liberal democracy we have the rule of law. If Google doesn’t follow take-down orders on the basis that it’s an international company based in California, well that maybe true, but it also ignores the reality of the internet,” he said.

But there’s another significant problem – take down orders, even if you can get one, can take quite a bit of time, and even if successful can be like shutting the stable door well after the story has bolted around the Internet.

I think that most people accept that suppression in some cases is important, especially when protecting the identity of victims of crime, especially children.

But I think that protecting the right to a fair trial via suppression can be virtually unworkable in the Internet age. Courts need to find a different way of dealing with this.

While I understand the argument for protecting rights to a fair trial i think that it needs to be reviewed, taking into account the practicalities of the use of the Internet.

There was recent example of failed suppression in Dunedin recently when a young woman was murdered. The name of the accused was published and circulated in social media before a suppression order was issued by the Court.

I have personal experience with abuse suppression in the courts. It was used to gag me while running an online campaign of harassment and defamation against me online, and if I confronted this online I was threatened with prosecution for breaching suppression, while the group attacking me claimed immunity because they claimed their publications were not in new Zealand, so therefore immune from New Zealand law.

So they used New Zealand law to gag me, while publishing offshore to avoid new Zealand law.

I am still gagged on this. I hope that that will be ending soon, but given the blatant hypocrisy of those involved they may try to keep their legal and personal abuses secret.

The Google (and Facebook et al) problem with suppression is not adequately addressed by New Zealand law and court practices, and neither is the use and abuse of suppression on a smaller and wider scale.

 

Fraught family issues and intimidating judges

Relationship breakups and family arrangements can be fraught with problems. Fathers in particular can be put in difficult positions, often feeling helpless in the legal system, with preference often given to mothers.

Some estranged fathers have been taking their frustrations too far.

NZH: Police protect judges at home from ‘intimidating’ Family Court protesters

Judges are being protected at their family homes by police as angry dads protest outside with placards and megaphones.

A group of fathers, many of whom are disgruntled at losing custody or visitation rights to their children, are gathering outside the homes of Family Court judges in Auckland, say multiple Herald sources.

It is understood the protests, which have largely taken place during weekends over the past few weeks, against about three judges have so far been peaceful with no reports of trespassing or property damage.

So they don’t seem to be breaking the law, but they are unlikely to sway judges with their protests.

Minister of Justice and Courts Andrew Little called the protests “very disturbing” and said there was no excuse for people taking their case to the front door of a judge.

“The reason for that sort of protest is to create some level of intimidation and that is entirely unacceptable.”

It does seem a bit disturbing, but fathers can get desperate in their attempts to maintain contact with their children. This is understandable – and far better than walking away from their parental responsibilities.

And they have succeeded in highlighting a problem faced by many fathers.

Perhaps having the law and the Courts stacked against them is also entirely unacceptable, and drawing attention to this is a valid if perhaps misguided reaction.

A third review into the Family Court had also been ordered by the Government, Little said.

A review panel and expert advisory group would talk to families who had been through the Family Court process, he said, while he had also asked specifically for a “human rights approach” to look at the views of both parents and the children.

More details of the review were expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Changes to the Family Court were introduced by the former National Government in March 2014, aimed at empowering families to resolve their matters outside court and without lawyers.

The reforms were also intended to help the Family Court focus on those cases which required immediate legal attention, such as those involving family violence.

Little said the review would evaluate whether the reforms had achieved their objectives.

In last month’s Ministry of Justice newsletter, Little also wrote: “Public confidence in the criminal system and family law has been eroded and a managerial approach has failed. We can do better, and we will do better.”

Swadling said there were “significant problems” introduced in 2014 when legal aid was removed and lawyers became unable to represent parties for some court processes.

“If protestors wish to be heard they would be best served by ensuring that they make submissions to the review panel rather than targeting particular individuals, especially judges who are unable, by convention, to defend themselves,” she said.

It is never easy sorting out relationship and family disputes, and it is a real shame that children get caught in the middle of parental legal battles.

While the care of the children should be paramount, both parents should be given a fair go by the legal system. This seems to be one thing where the system is often stacked against men.

Williams v Craig appeal

The appeal in the Jordan Williams v Colin Craig defamation case started today.

RNZ: Colin Craig defamation case back in court

In September last year a jury in the High Court at Auckland found Mr Craig had defamed Mr Williams and awarded Mr Williams damages of $1.27 million.

However earlier this year the court ruled that amount was unreasonably high, constituting a miscarriage of justice.

The highest previous defamation award was $825,000 granted to the Auckland accountant Michael Stiassny in 2008.

In her review of the case in April Justice Katz said the damages awarded were well outside any reasonable range by a significant margin.

So it has gone to appeal.

Jordan Williams’ lawyer, Peter McKnight told the Court of Appeal today that Justice Katz had not misdirected the jury and even if she did, it was not on a level requiring a retrial, as sought by Mr Craig.

“There was a very clear determination by the jury as to liability. It is suggested it would be a serious injustice to Mr Williams if he lost the advantages of those findings,” Mr McKnight said.

Justice Harrison questioned why the case had come before a jury in the first place.

“It should have been judge alone from the outset then we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

He also raised what should happen next if the Court of Appeal decides Justice Katz was correct to set aside the damages awarded against Colin Craig.

“Enough judicial resources have been wasted on it already and it would be most unfortunate to have to go through another trial.”

“What we want to know is do we have jurisdiction to order she has [the power] to settle all outstanding issues.”

A lot of time and court resources have gone into what is largely a political spat.

Stuff:  Jury must have ignored judge’s defamation case directions, court told

 

Williams’ lawyer, Peter McKnight, suggested the Court of Appeal could assess the damages, or another High Court jury could be asked to do so, using the first jury’s findings of facts, and hearing evidence only from Williams and Craig. Craig objected to having the trial judge set damages.

At the appeal hearing, one of the judges, Justice Rhys Harrison, said the court recognised the integrity of the jury’s verdict on Craig’s liability, and its provisional view was that Williams was entitled to that verdict unless the court was persuaded Justice Katz had made a wrong legal ruling on one of Craig’s potential defences.

Not surprisingly Williams wants it over as soon as possible, retaining the jury verdict and having damages set. Id that happens they are going to be less but could still be substantial.

Craig’s lawyer, Stephen Mills, QC, thought the case should be started again. The first jury’s decisions looked as if they had not followed the judge’s directions.

Mills said that, after the jury finished its work at the High Court in Auckland in 2016, Justice Sarah Katz had commented that the jury must have hated Craig to have decided as it did.

Mills said the judge had misdirected the jury about a possible defence, but he also agreed that it appeared the jury did not follow the judge’s directions in any event.

And Craig wants a new trial, giving him a second shot at winning, and at worst having the damages award reduce.

The appeal will continue tomorrow.

Climate change in court today

Climate change features in a court case starting in Wellington today. Hamilton law student Sarah Thomson is taking a judicial review against the Minister of Climate Change issues, saying they have failed in their ministerial duties by not setting adequate emission targets.

The case was announced in 2015 when Tim Groser was minister. Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has now taken over the portfolio.

Thomson at The Spinoff:  Why I’m taking the NZ government to court

I realised that politicians can’t always be trusted to act in the best interests of the people or the planet, and felt compelled by an irresistible force to do somethingwrites Sarah Thomson, ahead of a date at the High Court in Wellington this month.

She has raised $10k at Givealittle: Stand with Sarah for the Climate

Sarah Thomson is courageously taking the government to court to review their inadequate climate change target. Please help with her costs.

Newshub in 2015:  Govt sued by law student over climate change

Sarah Thomson, 24, has filed judicial review proceedings against the Minister of Climate Change Issues, claiming Tim Groser has failed his ministerial duties by not setting adequate emission targets.

“All the world’s scientists agree that climate change is real, that humans are causing it, and that urgent action is needed, but I can’t see our government taking it seriously,” Ms Thomson said.

“The science shows that New Zealand’s emissions targets just aren’t good enough to avoid dangerous climate change. Scientists agree that the reductions are too small and will take too long.”

She says the High Court will be asked to review the legality and reasonableness of New Zealand’s emissions targets under the Climate Change Response Act 2002.

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the legal action as “a joke”.

“If we’re getting sued, I hate to think what’s going to happen to the United States and Australia and other countries because their climate change targets are lower than ours,” he said.

This has to be a publicity stunt.

It would not be good for our democracy if an individual could effectively dictate Government policy on major issues through the court.

Craig, Whale Oil and weaponising of the court

Colin Craig has won his appeal against a judgment in which from Judge Mary Beth Sharp had ruled his copyright claim on a ‘poem’ as “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court”.

NZ City:  Craig wins appeal in poem lawsuit

The former Conservative Party leader has won his appeal of a decision to throw the case out as “vexatious”, despite those opposing him saying he’s had enough court time.

Mr Craig’s lawyers this week appealed that decision in the High Court, saying he should have been cut a “bit more slack” because he wasn’t a legal expert and had run the case himself.

Justice Mark Woolford has now allowed the appeal, saying “Mr Craig’s claim cannot be seen as groundless”.

“Even if Mr Craig’s primary motivation was to protect his reputation, I am of the view that his copyright claim should still be determined on its merits,” he said.

“He is entitled to have his day in court.”

Justice Woolford also noted Mr Craig viewed himself as “a poet of some literary merit”.

To me that’s a very dubious claim but Craig’s view may be pertinent in a legal sense.

Whale Oil has quoted this article at length but doesn’t appear to have attributed it to the source.

‘Whaleoil staff’ also offers substantial detail and opinion on a case before the court. They again seem to be trying to prove their case to their readers in advance of the court hearing it.

Of particular interest to me:

It is therefore a good time to point out the elephant in the room.  In my view, Mr Craig does not consider winning necessary.  To him, grinding down all his opponents in a never-ending series of court events is enough of an achievement.   While he has millions to spend, he knows his opponents do not.

That may or may not be Craig’s aim, it is simply speculation.

Colin Craig currently has 12 current defamation/copyright cases on the go.  All related to one originating incident.  The stepping down of Rachel MacGregor.

Such weaponising of the court system is indeed  “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court”.  And treating the copyright case as a stand-alone event totally divorced from anything else is a serious error in legal judgement.

I don’t know what is motivating Craig but there are indications it has been a mixture of things, including defending his reputation (that is in tatters as a result of this saga), and of holding an attack blog to account.

If Craig has been weaponising the court system and is indeed  “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court” then I have some sympathy with the targets of his legal actions.

But that sympathy is somewhat mixed, given the apparent hypocrisy from Whaleoil here.

Someone who appears to have an association to someone with a close association with Whale oil posted a comment here two days ago under the pseudonym ‘Albert’, which included:

I think you will find defamation doesn’t work that way. The last few months have been a free for all in your comments against Slater with some really defamatory things said…

I have been careful to moderate anything that I think could be at risk of being considered defamatory.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Slater didn’t task that mouth breather Belt to collect everything ready for when he beats Colin.

You might find third party discovery a real bitch…

That sounds like a threat.

Much and all as I loathe Slater, he is that cunning to sit an wait and collect months of data. The publisher is Yournz not the commenters.

I’m not a lawyer but Slater is nasty when cornered…and if he has money then I doubt he’d hold back going after someone like you who is a soft target.

Freedom of speech Rights etc won’t stop him…and he will grind you down. He’s that much of an assholes.

There are some ridiculous statements here.

The “mouth breather belt” and “loathe Slater” references need to be taken with a grain of salt, self criticism is a common ploy to try to disguise a source.

I think there is a clear implication from someone probably close to Slater that if Slater gets award a big payout in his case against Craig he will use that to finance vexatious legal actions. He has already been involved in some against me, unsuccessfully, so “soft target” may be a misjudgement.

It will look highly hypocritical if anything comes of this, but I think it is more likely to be empty threats in yet another attempt to try to shut me up.

I think that weaponising of the court system is indeed  “vexatious”, “improper” and a “deception perpetrated on the court” – and with record of this already happening against me, further attempts would be seen as a continuation of an obsession with trying to shut down any criticism and holding to account.

I don’t agree with some of what Craig has done and some of the measures Craig has taken, but I think his attempts to hold a dirty blog to account have some merit.

NOTE: I will moderate anything that I think steps over any lines. As usual I will allow rights of reply but I will have low tolerance for deceit in pseudonyms and attempts by sock puppets to plant ‘incriminating’ comments.

Trump praises himself, attacks media and Court

President Donald Trump continues to attack the media and US courts via Twitter, and conducts a session of praise of himself with hos Cabinet.

Washington Times:  Trump’s tweets slam the media, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!”

Sad for the President to resort to this type of attack on the media. As flawed as they are the media still has a duty to hold the President and his administration to account.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.”

And it’s dangerous for a President to become publicly involved in matters before the courts.

But Trump managed to get some praise published in media – praise from himself and his Cabinet.

NBC News:  At First Full Meeting, Trump Claims Historic Success — and Cabinet Rushes to Pay Him Tribute

President Donald Trump blamed “obstructionist” Democrats for slowing his agenda Monday, even as he lauded his success as historic — an assessment many of his Cabinet members lined up, one by one, to endorse.

Meeting at the White House with his entire Cabinet for the first time, Trump used his opening remarks to blame Democrats for delaying the meeting, saying they’d held up key appointments in the Senate to score political points.

(Senate rules require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, so the Republican majority has enough votes to approve Trump’s picks on its own. Democrats can do little more than delay the process.)

Trump went on to boast that he had already accomplished more than most other presidents in U.S. history.

“Never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle — who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done,” Trump said. “I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace.”

Trump added that he was following through on his campaign promises “at a much faster pace than anyone thought,” citing executive orders, the rollback of government regulations and 34 bills passed by Congress.

So Trump is claiming unprecedented success, but also a lack of success due to obstruction.

Meanwhile, almost all of the legislation signed by Trump has been relatively small-bore; many of those measures include naming people to positions and designating buildings.

Congressional Republicans have increasingly voiced concern about the slow pace of legislative accomplishments on health care, tax reform and other issues.

As for nominations, the real bottleneck in the process, Democrats and others say, is at the White House, which has yet to appointment nominees to fill many vacant positions in the government.

Regardless of reality, Trump was joined by his Cabinet in a praisefest.

As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments’ work.

It was all too much for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who tweeted a “staff meeting” parodying the White House flattery festival.

I’m not sure that parody is necessary, Trump is an ongoing self parody.

Helen Craig: “triumph of lies over truth”

The sparse coverage of the Craig v Slater defamation case continues, except on Whale Oil where they continue to post and comment about the case, and allow critical and derogatory comments of Craig to remain. Yesterday it was oddly in ‘Face of the Day’ where it states “It’s coming out in court.  Warts and all.”

In Craig v Slater, Day 5 (media roundup) Slater and his wife ‘Spanish Bride’ are active in comments. It’s hard to know how close an interest in the case other commenters have but some seem to be feeding information, like this:

WOCraigvSlater1

This exchange ends with ‘WO’ (it sounds like Slater) appearing to say that there will be more legal action after this trial:

WOCraigvSlater2

The Herald seems to have picked up media duties this week with several articles.

Steve Braunias: The sad, ragged ballad of Colin Craig and Rachel MacGregor

The sad, ragged ballad of Colin Craig and Rachel MacGregor – the former political party leader and his former press secretary, formerly in a relationship that started with a kiss and never actually went any further – played to an empty courtroom 14 at the High Court of Auckland today.

The only people there were people who had a professional reason to be there. No spectators, no idly curious, despite the fact that the courtroom was filled with song.

This is odd, it’s hard to know if this is serious or not. It’s an odd topic for satire.

NZ Herald: Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig would have dated press secretary Rachel MacGregor if single

When offering a $20,000 personal loan to his then press secretary – a woman he had strong feelings for – former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig did not consider whether it created an inappropriate power balance, he admitted to a court.

Rachel MacGregor worked closely with Craig from about the time he founded the Conservative Party in 2011 until she resigned suddenly two days before the 2014 election.

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater subsequently, in posts in 2015, claimed Craig sexually harassed her.

In a series of questions, Justice Toogood also quizzed Craig about whether he and MacGregor had wanted to have a physical relationship.

He replied that because he was married, they could not. However, if they had been both free to do so, he thought they would have entered a relationship together.

MacGregor will be a key witness when she appears in court.

NZ Herald: Harassment claims part of ‘nightmare’ campaign, says Colin Craig’s wife

Colin Craig’s wife has called a blogger’s claims of sexual harassment by her husband “appalling” and a “triumph of lies over truth”.

Yesterday Craig’s wife, Helen, told the High Court at Auckland Slater’s posts were part of a “nightmare” campaign aimed at her husband and were not based on facts.

She said the situation was a “nightmare” because she never knew what allegation Slater would make next.

The ensuing “media firestorm” not only ruined her husband’s political career, but cost their business clients and affected their relationship with friends, she said.

Slater’s lawyer, Brian Henry, later quizzed her, asking why she thought Whale Oil, a small blog site, had cause of all these problems when New Zealand’s major media players had also written about the allegations.

A “small blog site”? That’s at odds with what Whale Oil’s About claims:

Run as a “super-blog”, the site attracts over 286,000 readers, 2.2 million visits every month, with over 4 million pages being served to our readers.

Whaleoil is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand.

…with a vast network of people from all parts of the spectrum contributing and assisting in the effort.

However that’s obviously out of date, Whale Oil is unlikely to still be “he fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand” several years after that was claimed.

Justice 1917 style

The Otago Daily Times has a daily ‘100 years ago’ feature which currently has a very interesting ongoing look at the First World War. They also have local news, currently from 1917, and over the last few days there have been two interesting court sentences.

  • A sitting of the Juvenile Court was held at Milton yesterday, when a boy was charged with stealing a bicycle. After evidence was heard, his Worship (Mr Acheson, S. M.) was satisfied that the boy had stolen the bicycle, and that there was more than the ordinary juvenile element about the case. The boy seemed to have exhibited a criminal tendency, which must be checked at once. He was very loath to inflict a severe sentence, but he thought that, in the interests of the parents, who were very respectable, and of the boy, a salutary sentence should be inflicted. The boy was ordered to receive six strokes of the birch.
    https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/100-years-ago/women%E2%80%99s-migration-scheme-announced

Judicial corporal punishment ceased in New Zealand in 1941.

Corporal punishment in schools, the strap and the cane,  was still prevalent on the sixties in my experience, but there were signs of resistance in the early seventies. It was abolished from schools in 1987 but wasn’t abolished legislatively until 23 July 1990.

  • “Bad language is very common in all the cities of the dominion. Men seem to think that they can use filthy language in the streets, no matter how many people are present,” said Mr S. E. McCarthy, S. M., at the Magistrate’s Court in Wellington, when sentencing a returned soldier to a month’s imprisonment for obscenity.
    https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/100-years-ago/fears-ships-captured

I can remember people being charged in court for swearing in public, but I haven’t seen it for quite a while. However it is still an offence under the Summary Offences Act 1981.

offensivebehaviouract

At least it’s not an imprisonable offence any more.