The embellishers

Cameron Slater used the term ’embellish’ in a Government inquiry into “Allegations regarding the Honourable Judith Collins and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office” to describe comments of his in an email that prompted the inquiry.

He said “I’m putting my words around things and embellishing them and it’s cost her her job”.

From the inquiry report (24 November 2014):

[235] Again Mr Slater was questioned about what he had been told by Ms Collins. He said that the words “gunning for” were his words and were not words that Ms Collins would ever use. When asked whether they were a “pure creation” on his part he responded:

Well it’s an amalgam of what – the displeasure that she would have passed onto me, especially around him being in the media all the time and also the comments that I received from Jared Savage and also just having a long-term knowledge of Judith Collins. I’m actually putting – I’m putting my words around things and embellishing them and it’s cost her her job.

Mr Slater said that the impression Mr Feeley was in the media all the time had come from several people, not just from Ms Collins.

[316] My interpretation is that the statements attributed to Ms Collins suggesting she was conveying information about Mr Feeley’s future to Mr Slater are embellishments by Mr Slater.

You would think that costing a friend and Cabinet Minister her job, and possibly costing Collins and chance of becoming National Party leader and possible Prime Minister, would give Slater good reason to reconsider his practice of embellishing.

But if you read posts at Whale Oil it appears to be a habit that’s hard to break. Slater recently claimed the slide in newspaper circulation was in part due to a deliberate aim of his, and “I hope to be able to help suffocate them further”.

From a court Judgment of Asher J:

[88] One of Mr Slater’s sources is clearly identified. Mr Marc Spring has filed an affidavit confirming that he has been the source of numerous articles written by Mr Slater about Mr Blomfield which have been published on the website.

[122] Mr Slater has in his affidavits and writings made it clear that he regards Mr Blomfield as a man capable of physical violence. Mr Spring in his affidavit claims that he has received threats from Mr Blomfield on numerous occasions. However, the only detail he gives is that he had been sent text messages to run him out of New Zealand and advises that if he did not stop pursuing him for money he would have a public relations nightmare on his hands. He claims that a close relative of Mr Blomfield is a criminal convicted of assaults, who has also threatened him. Mr Slater suggests that the respondent may seek to “bully and intimidate” his sources if they are disclosed.

[123] However, there is no evidence that Mr Blomfield has endeavoured to bully and intimidate Mr Spring and the others who have already been disclosed as sources. One of the exhibits produced by Mr Blomfield is a vigorous exchange of emails between him and Mr Spring where Mr Spring appears to be sending Mr Blomfield aggressive and abusive texts. By and large Mr Blomfield takes a relatively defensive position.

While Spring accused Blomfield of bullying and intimidation the evidence shows that it was Spring doing the bullying and intimidating.

I’ve experienced similar with Spring, where he has accused me in documents he used to get a court order against me (which was thrown out) but where he was the bully, and worse.

[124] Mr Blomfield has no convictions for violent offending. I do not accept Mr Slater’s suggestion that he is a person to be feared. Mr Slater referred to an incident and a court case, but Mr Blomfield was discharged. There is nothing to suggest he would resort to intimidatory tactics, and I put that to one side as an adverse effect.

Here both Slater and Marc Spring make accusations about threats, intimidation and fears of violence but supply no credible evidence. Are their ’embellishments’ bad habits they are unaware of or blatant false claims?

From a Judgment by the Court of Appeal dated 9 November 2015 there are a number of allegations made by Slater, Spring and others that are rejected by the judge for various reasons.

[20] This passage contains double hearsay and is therefore inadmissible…

[21] Numerous other examples of similar difficulties with the proposed evidence could be quoted…

[22] As one example of intimidatory conduct by Mr Blomfield arising from the hearing in the High Court Mr Slater relied on a complaint of harassment made by Mr Blomfield against Mr Spring…

…The Judge proceeded to find that text messages sent to Mr Blomfield by Mr Spring constituted harassment under the Harassment Act 1997. A restraining order was made against Mr Spring and remains in force until 9 April 2016.

They tried to claim that Blomfield getting a restraining order against Spring for Spring sending “aggressive and abusive” text messages was intimidation.

[26] Next Mr Slater referred to intimidatory acts against Mr Price…This evidence is all hearsay, and inadmissible.

[27] It also fails to meet the cogency test…There is nothing about the affidavit which suggests that it was obtained by any kind of coercion.

[30] We do not regard this evidence as cogent. While Mr Mattu says he is fearful, he gives no evidence of any direct or particular threat of physical violence…

[32] Mr Mattu also gives evidence in the second affidavit that Mr Blomfield threatened him over the phone…

[33] In his submissions, the main emphasis Mr Slater gave this second affidavit related to the fact that Mr Blomfield had telephoned Mr Mattu on Monday 5 October 2015. Mr Mattu recognised the caller’s name as that of Mr Blomfield and decided not to take the call. Instead he telephoned Mr Slater to take advice. Mr Slater was unavailable, but an associate, Mr Nottingham, advised him to take the next call from Mr Blomfield and record it. It was then arranged that instead Mr Mattu would telephone Mr Blomfield while Mr Nottingham was on the line and both would record what was said. That then ensued, the discussion then lasting for some 26 minutes. A little over an hour later, Mr Mattu again telephoned Mr Blomfield while Mr Nottingham was on the line.

[34] Transcripts of the discussion were then drawn up and attached to Mr Mattu’s affidavit. The presiding Judge in this Court asked Mr Slater to identify the parts of the transcripts of then phone discussions which were of most concern. Mr Slater referred to the following passages attributed to Mr Blomfield.

MattuBlomfieldtranscription

[35] Mr Slater invited us to infer from the language used that these comments by Mr Blomfield were in fact veiled threats, that the observations were intimidatory and effectively asking Mr Mannu not to stand by his affidavit. We are not prepared to draw those inferences.

It looks like a fairly major embellishment suggesting Blomfield’s comments (secretly recorded by Nottingham) were threatening or intimidatory. And these are the parts of the conversation that Slater presented as “of most concern”.

This all sounds familiar to me. I have seen many similar ’embellishments’ aimed at myself.

Last December when Spring threw his ridiculous court order at me and Your NZ both he and Slater publicly made serious allegations against me that were at best embellishments. They may have been fantasies, or they could otherwise have been deliberate false claims made to the Court.

The court papers included claims that sound similar to some of those detailed above. And subsequent claims and threats made since by Spring and others are along similar lines.

It seems common for them to transfer their own actions and attributes onto others. I don’t know if it’s ‘transference’, which is an unconscious action, or deliberate. It’s possibly some of both.

In their world ’embellishment’ could mean a range of things but the one thing I take from it is that you can’t trust anything they say regardless of whether it’s through their ignorance, or malice. The two may have become inextricably linked.