“Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

“Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published.”

“He makes the concession…that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website…”

Following a jury trial in the District Court in Auckland in April and May 2018  Dermot Nottingham was convicted of two breaches of non-publication orders, and five charges of criminal harassment. He was sentenced to a term of a maximum one year home detention. See NZH Blogger dodges prison over court suppression breaches, harassment campaigns

The offending largely involved a website laudafinem.com that has a notorious reputation for posting many breaches of suppression as well as numerous attacks on many people, including judges, lawyers, police officers, pooliticians, journalists, business people (and businesses), and individuals – including me and two individuals who participated here.

I think that there is public interest in Nottingham’s connection with laudafinem.com be made known, as many people have been subjected to attacks and defamation.

Open justice is an important part of our country.

From a court document that is a public document (not yet available online):

[13] The detective sergeant’s efforts to establish links between Mr Nottingham and the Lauda Finem website led to an expansion of the investigation once he discovered a number of Lauda Finem articles which indicated several campaigns of harassment against individuals identified in those articles.

Conduct included:

  • Repetitively publishing articles on Lauda Finem containing fictitious, offensive and defamatory material.
  • Repetitively publishing articles on Lauda Finem about associates and family members containing fictitious, offensive and defamatory material about those persons.
  • Obtaining private photographs of the complainants and family and publishing those on Lauda Finem.
  • Photographing or causing to be photographed for publication on Lauda Finem.
  • Recording communications for publication on Lauda Finem m conjunction with offensive and defamatory material.

[18] It was clear to me that, for some of the complainants, life over an extended period of time had been made very uncomfortable and distressing, in some cases affecting the daily lives of some complainants whose reputations in their community had been so badly maligned as to cause them to withdraw within themselves.

[22] Now, I make some findings of fact. Consistent with the verdicts of the jury I have concluded that between 2010 and 2015 Dermot Nottingham published or had published numerous articles on the blog site laudafinem.com. Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published.

[23] During that five year period the defendant undertook numerous campaigns of harassment against a number of individuals, the most egregious and persistent of which were represented by the five complainants in the trial. I concluded that his conduct by publishing said articles, through other intimidating and harassing conduct – including threatening, watching, photographing, following – was either carried out directly by Dermot Nottingham or at his direction and that he knew his conduct was likely to cause the individuals to fear for their safety or the safety of family members.

[24] It was plain to me from the evidence that a number of these courses of conduct started with Mr Nottingham crossing the path of the individual complainant, either in his own capacity or on behalf of another individual, acting as their advocate. Initially, it is possible in some instances that Mr Nottingham reasonably believed he had legitimate concerns or complaints. However, rather than pursuing those complaints by lawful and reasonable means, he adopted a combative approach, I have to say reminiscent of his approach generally to the authorities and even to this Court, where he sought to achieve his goals or obtain justice by resorting to personal attack. Mr Nottingham seems to believe that, when it comes to informal media through blog sites and social media, “anything goes”.

[25] It is important to recognise and note at this stage that mainstream media are subject to codes of conduct which avoid the type of abusive and threatening articles being published in mainstream media, but bloggers and other persons who carry out their personal attacks through the medium of the Internet seem to feel that they are not bound by similar moral codes of conduct. Mr Nottingham seeks to justify and make
lawful his conduct towards others by reference to the conduct of other bloggers who habitually take an aggressive and attacking approach in purporting to uncover corruption and injustice. Further, Dermot Nottingham seeks to argue that the prosecution of him discloses bias and unfairness on the part of the police, the Crown and the Court, because others are doing similar things and getting away with it.

[26] I proceed on the basis that two wrongs do not make a right. Individuals can never escape the consequences of their unlawful conduct simply by pointing to someone else who is similarly acting unlawfully. It must also be said in the context of the evidence in this case that the degree of attack, abuse, harassment and its relentless nature appears to be far worse in Dermot Nottingham’s case than in the examples he relies upon to claim unfair and biased treatment.

[28] …The Crown submits that the key purpose of sentencing in this case should be to hold the offender accountable for the harm done to the victims, to denounce his conduct and to deter him and others from offending in a similar manner. I accept that those purposes apply in this case.

[29] The Crown further proposes that there are a number of aggravating features to the criminal harassment charges, namely the extent of the harm. The allegations against the complainants included that that they were alcoholics, used drugs, were promiscuous or were corrupt professionals and public officials. The Crown characterised the language used by Mr Nottingham as malicious, misogynistic and entirely abhorrent. Without the need for me to repeat any of those specific offensive allegations, I concur with the summary of Mr Nottingham’s conduct. I also accept that those aggravating features are present.

[31] The third aggravating feature as proposed by the Crown is that the offender, Dermot Nottingham, clearly researched his targets extensively and published intimate and personal details, including making reference to friends and family, photographs of homes and cars and their licence plates. The level of research and preparation for a number of these articles demonstrates, the Crown says, a high degree of premeditation.

[32] Finally, the Crown submits that another aggravating feature, being the number and seriousness of the offences, is present, relating not only to the number of complainants, but also the persistence and time over which that harassment was carried out or continued. I accept that all three of those aggravating features are present in this case and to a high degree.

[38] I turn now to Mr Nottingham’s position, or his submissions on sentencing. In his written submissions, Dermot Nottingham, as I have previously indicated, relies on the proposition that the Lauda Finem website treated the complainant no differently to anyone else it reports on; for instance, like Mr Slater does on his website. He makes the concession at paragraph 32 of his submissions that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website, although he maintains his denial that he is the leading mind of that website or has any significant control over its operators

[40] On the subject of cumulative sentences, Mr Nottingham simply states that is not appropriate. Further, he submits that imprisonment is not appropriate and he seeks to focus on the behaviours of the complainants, presumably to suggest that his conduct towards them was, at some level, justifiable.

[42] Not only does such a statement reinforce the contempt with which
Mr Nottingham holds the decisions of the Court and the non-publication orders, but establishes beyond doubt that Mr Nottingham harbours no sense of remorse in relation to any of this offending.

[52]  Mr Nottingham does not qualify for any consideration of reduction of sentence for guilty pleas, or indeed for remorse. He has doggedly defended the allegations and required the complainants to give evidence. Although this does not add to the sentence I impose, it highlights why Mr Nottingham is not entitled to any discount for remorse or acceptance.

[53] In his written submissions, Mr Nottingham makes it plain that he disagrees with the findings of the jury and challenges many of the rulings of the Court. As is characteristic of his approach to legal proceedings, I anticipate that Mr Nottingham will pursue all avenues of review and appeal and is unlikely ever to accept that what he did was not only unlawful, but reprehensible.

[59] Mr Nottingham, the message to you and to others by way of deterrence is that “anything goes” is wrong. The right to free speech or freedom of expression is not a paramount right. It must be balanced against the competing rights of others in the community to be free from harassment, to be protected from harm by others who malign, abuse, threaten and undermine their peace and safety. Your activities were not harmless. Nor were they justified by your sense of injustice or unfairness. They were destructive of good order and good human relations. They were misconceived and wholly disproportionate to the harm or injustice that you believed you and others had suffered.

Given his extensive record Nottingham is likely to appeal everything he can. The Crown may also appeal the sentence – they sought a substantial prison sentence.

There are also some important lessons for bloggers in the judge’s comments.

“He makes the concession…that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website…”

I dispute that, but that’s for another story.

I will note however that on the Lauda Finem website it was often denied that ‘Team LF’ included people in New Zealand, even though it was obvious they used a large amount of New Zealand sourced material, their posts were almost exclusively New Zealand subjects, and their campaigns had things in common with campaigns on other websites.

Nottingham has not been acting alone in all of this (the court suggested a prominent role), but associates are for another story.

The laudafinem.com website started up in July 2010, and was shut down by a New Zealand court order in late 2016. Another site was set up but ceased activity in March 2017.


NOTE: This case was subject to suppression (non-publication orders) – and the private prosecutions of myself and three others were also bound by this. I have been advised by the court that this suppression lapsed on the sentencing of Nottingham.

However the case involves other cases that are still subject to non-publication orders (suppressed), so details on them must not be published.

Due to on-going suppression orders comments here will be strictly moderated. Do not try to identify anyone who is not named in the quotes from the court document here in any way.

Policeman revealed as stalker

Suppression has been lifted and it has now been revealed that a policeman was the person convicted of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage in Dunedin.

In April a case involving the stalking and harassment of a Dunedin businessman was revealed – see ODT  Stalked man sure death was coming:

The 39-year-old defendant was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

His name and occupation will remain suppressed at least until this morning’s sentencing in the Dunedin District Court.

The victim and his wife — whose identities are permanently suppressed…

But the suppression was partly lifted – Dunedin stalker named:

Today, before the Dunedin District Court, the judge sentenced Buis to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay Mr Pryde $15,000.

The public servant who spent two and a-half years stalking a Dunedin businessman can now be named.

Jeremy Buis (39), of Dunedin, was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

Buis has had name suppression since the charges were laid some two years ago but today defence counsel Anne Stevens said there was no application to have that extended.

While Judge Paul Kellar let the suppression order lapse, he continued the suppression of the defendant’s occupation at Mrs Stevens’ request.

She said it would unfairly cast aspersions on others doing the same job as her client.

Keeping the occupation of Buis proved futile with social media soon making it easy to find out a disturbing aspect of the case.

But now this suppression has been lifted.

NZ Herald: Court says man who harassed Dunedin businessman for 2.5 years can be revealed as policeman

Constable Jeremy Fraser Buis, 39, was sentenced following a judge-alone trial in March to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim, Danny Pryde, $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

At sentencing, Judge Paul Kellar suppressed the man’s occupation at the request of defence counsel Anne Stevens.

But yesterday, the Otago Daily Times successfully appealed the ruling in the High Court at Dunedin.

Counsel Charlotte Carr said: “To treat a police officer differently could lead to ridicule and contempt from the public and to suppress a particular occupation invites a perception that certain classes of persons will be treated differently before the court.”

Justice David Gendall said the judge’s grounds for the suppression of the man’s profession were unclear and he said there was “significant public interest” in the order being quashed.

“Ordering the suppression of Mr Buis’ occupation because he is a police officer undermines the principle that all members of society are equal under the law,” Gendall said.

“Police are not entitled to special treatment.”

This is a sensible decision. That a policeman was involved was of substantial public interest.

The news was welcomed by Pryde, who had voiced his disappointment at the situation after sentencing in April.

“It’s more of a relief to know it is public. I don’t know why it was ever a secret,” he said. “I had to be very careful about what I said.”

Pryde was quick to point out it was Buis, not the police, who wanted the profession kept under wraps.

It had put Pryde in a difficult situation, especially online. He was involved in Facebook discussions where the occupation of Buis became fairly easy to work out (from the comments of some others, not Pryde).

Southern District commander Superintendent Paul Basham confirmed yesterday that the defendant had been suspended in February 2015 and an employment process was ongoing.

Basham said it was not part of a wider problem.

“The behaviour reported on through the case is not reflective of the wider culture in the police in 2017,” he said.

Of the 700 staff in the region he said the vast majority acted professionally but “you have a few who occasionally let the side down”.

Basham said there was a speak-up policy in place encouraging staff to report any adverse behaviour.

“Those conversations are happening regularly and I think we have a generation of staff coming through that are mindful about those issues,” he said.

Buis certainly “let the side down”, but I think it is correct and just that his occupation can now be known and talked about publicly.

This was a serious and sustained abuse of power by a policeman.

Stalker case – surprise over job ‘secrecy’

Further to Questionable sentence and suppression after criminal harassment the ODT has followed up today with more on the attempt to keep the person convicted of criminal harassment and intentional damage a secret.

A public servant who subjected a Dunedin businessman to “a living hell” for two and a-half years has finally been named – but his occupation remains under wraps.

Jeremy Fraser Buis (39), appearing in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

The victim – Danny Pryde – voluntarily gave up his own name suppression yesterday and said he was “extremely surprised” Buis’ job was kept secret.

“I think that’s quite important for the public to know … his profession and I don’t know why they’d hold that back,” he said.

More than quite important, but there is some ‘Streisand effect’ in action because it has increased publicity and outrage.

Judge Paul Kellar gave no reasons for his decision, which was made after counsel Anne Stevens said publication of the job would cast aspersions on Buis’ colleagues.

Suppression hasn’t prevented aspersions being cast, in fact it has probably made it more likely.

University of Otago dean of law Prof Mark Henaghan said the situation was unusual and almost futile.

“Once the name is released, people can find out what he does,” he said.

It’s simple to find out, even without seeing or hearing it said all over the place (which is happening).

Police said he was released from court after sentencing through an “alternative exit”, rather than the public doors, to avoid conflict with the victim’s family.

“Avoidance of the media was not a consideration,” the spokesman said.

I don’t think that’s an issue. The suppression of Buis’ occupation is.

Mr Pryde, owner of Pryde Engineering, said he wanted to lift the lid on the ordeal which had permeated almost every area of his life.

“I’ve got a business to run and it’s extremely embarrassing trying to explain this to customers,” he said.

“I’m happy for them to read about it and sympathise if they feel the need to.”

Mr Pryde believed the sentence was light and described the $15,000 emotional-harm payment, which the court heard Buis had borrowed, as “dirty money”.

“I’d almost be prepared to give that away to charity. He tried to destroy my business and my marriage. [Money] doesn’t fix those things,” he said.

Danny is a good and innovative engineer. I don’t see them often now but Danny and his wife have always seemed to me to be very nice people. They, and no one, deserves to be treated this badly.

I think that continued suppression of Buis’ occupation is worse for his employer and his colleagues (or ex colleagues) than being open and up front about it.

NOTE: Nothing that reveals the occupation of Buis can be tolerated here.

Questionable sentence and suppression after criminal harassment

A case in Dunedin details over two years of sustained harassment and threats against a man and his family started by a parking ticket dispute. Concerns have been raised about the community sentence and continued suppression of the offender’s occupation.

Suppression on the case changed overnight.

Yesterday morning the ODT reported in Stalked man sure death was coming:

A Dunedin businessman who was stalked for more than two and a-half years by a government employee was convinced the man would kill him.

The 39-year-old defendant was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

His name and occupation will remain suppressed at least until this morning’s sentencing in the Dunedin District Court.

The victim and his wife — whose identities are permanently suppressed…

But later yesterday in Dunedin stalker named:

Today, before the Dunedin District Court, the judge sentenced Buis to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay Mr Pryde $15,000.

The public servant who spent two and a-half years stalking a Dunedin businessman can now be named.

Jeremy Buis (39), of Dunedin, was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

Buis has had name suppression since the charges were laid some two years ago but today defence counsel Anne Stevens said there was no application to have that extended.

While Judge Paul Kellar let the suppression order lapse, he continued the suppression of the defendant’s occupation at Mrs Stevens’ request.

She said it would unfairly cast aspersions on others doing the same job as her client.

This has raised a lot of discussion and criticism. It seems to be well known around town what Buis’ occupation was, and it is quite pertinent to the case.

NOTE: no hints about the man’s occupation can be allowed here as it is suppressed under order of the Court.

Given the length and nature of the harassment – and the occupation of the offender – the sentence has been questioned too.

And despite permanent suppression of the victim’s identity being initially reported:

The businessman can also be named as Danny Pryde, owner of Pryde Engineering.

Outside court Mr Pryde said he was disappointed Buis’ occupation was suppressed and that the judge had declined an application to photograph him in court.

He described the $15,000 reparation awarded as “dirty money” and said he was tempted to give it away to charity.

“He tried to destroy my business and my marriage. [Money] doesn’t fix those things,” Mr Pryde said.

‘‘Mentally, he has really hurt us.’’

On December 2, 2014, the harassment reached its peak when the defendant’s messages took a violent turn.

He told the victim to ‘‘get your affairs in order’’ and advised him to ‘‘buy something bullet-proof’’.

‘‘I honestly thought that afternoon was my last day on Earth. I felt sick,’’ the victim said.

‘‘I thought ‘he’s lost the plot and he’s going to do it’.’’

This sounded shocking enough, but I was more surprised when his identity was revealed because I know Danny, he used to be a neighbour and he and his wife were very nice people. It’s awful to hear what they have been subjected to. I don’t see them often now and didn’t know anything about this case apart from what has been reported.

The sustained campaign of harassment started over a trivial matter – a parking dispute.

The saga began on June 14, 2012, when the defendant parked his car blocking the rear driveway to the victim’s business.

The company owner called the council, who promptly ticketed the vehicle, which led to a confrontation between the men.

‘‘He deliberately parked across the entranceway to [the business] the next day to make a point,’’ Judge Kellar said.

Despite the defendant claiming he had no animosity towards the victim, the judge highlighted the fact he subsequently made a complaint to police over alleged damage to his car.

‘‘From what should have been an innocuous incident about parking I am sure that [he] has engaged in a sustained period of harassment of [the victim] for . . . over two years,’’ Judge Kellar said.

It began with anonymous text messages from a range of unknown numbers.

But in February 2014, things escalated when the public servant set up a fake homosexual online dating profile using the businessman’s name and contact details from his work website.

When police raided the defendant’s house nearly two years later, forensic electronic evidence from his laptop identified him as the culprit.

He noted much of the abuse had a distinctly homosexual theme. The victim’s contact details were written in marker pen at a gay hangout and graffiti featuring the man’s name alongside gay slurs began popping up around the city.

When police analysed the defendant’s phone, they found he had communicated with colleagues over an app during which he voiced his hatred for the victim.

A hatred that became a very nasty obsession that resulted in a sustained campaign to not only ruin the victim’s life but also his family and his business. And it is claimed it didn’t end with the arrest or trial.

Despite the recent trial, the victim revealed he was still receiving anonymous text messages and was informed a couple of weeks ago someone had created a fake profile on the dating app Tinder using his photo.

There are suggestions (rumours) of others being involved, making the continued suppression of the man’s occupation more of a concern. Anyone who wants to know is likely to have found out anyway, and the attempt at secrecy feeds the rumour rather than gags it.

But we must comply with the Court and not mention Buis’ occupation (it is known and able to be published that he also runs a surf board business) so please, don’t attempt to breach suppression in any way here.

Stuff also has detailed coverage: ‘I was in a dark place’ – victim of Dunedin government staffer’s prolonged harassment campaign

The victim of a prolonged harassment campaign by a Dunedin government employee has spoken of the fear that almost drove him to take his own life.

Dunedin businessman Daniel Pryde waived his right to name suppression after Jeremy Buis was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court on Friday.

Buis was found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage in the judge’s reserved decision delivered on Thursday.

But…

On January 19, 2017, just weeks out from the trial, he received the text “Happy new year limpdick”.

Another said he was a wife beater, while another text referenced his vehicle as he went shopping with his family.

So did Buis continue the harassment even though a trial was pending? Or is someone else, or others, also involved.

See follow up: Stalker case – surprise over job ‘secrecy’