Rankin, Ardern, Peters respond to Parliament’s bullying and harassment review

The behaviour of MP versus MP is not included in the Review into bullying and harassment at Parliament, it is dealing with staff only, but it has raised the issue of poor behaviour from MPs.

The Speaker Trevor Mallard’s past behaviour in Parliament has been pointed out, including a conviction for fighting with another MP and attacks on a consultant. In 2007 Mallard pleads guilty to fighting, says sorry to consultant

Mallard pleaded not guilty to an assault charge, but today pleaded guilty to the lesser fighting charge and agreed to pay $500 to the Salvation Army’s Bridge drug and alcohol programme.

Shortly after the conclusion of the hearing, Mallard apologised in Parliament to Ms Leigh, who he had been accused of unfairly attacking under parliamentary privilege.

And yesterday, in response to Mallard launching the review – ‘He was a bully’: Christine Rankin accuses ‘crude’ Trevor Mallard of bullying

Former Work and Income NZ chief executive Christine Rankin says she was subjected to a campaign of bullying from senior ministers who wanted her out – and that Speaker Trevor Mallard was among them.

“I think anyone can look back on my situation 18 years ago and accept that it was the biggest bullying situation that has ever happened in this country that we know of,” she told Newshub.

She says she was taunted and comments were made about the way she looked. She claims she was even told that her earrings were a “sexual come-on”.

“Incidents have occurred over many years in these buildings which are unacceptable,” said Mr Mallard when announcing the inquiry earlier this week.

Ms Rankin says she was relentlessly bullied by senior Labour Party ministers after they took power in 1999, and that group included now-Speaker Mr Mallard.

“He was a bully,” she told Newshub. “They were all bullies and they revelled in it.”

She says ministers would whisper and laugh about her during meetings – with Mr Mallard using language that still makes her too uncomfortable to repeat.

“He was crude and rude and it was directed at me.”

Mallard has probably changed a lot since then, especially since he took on the responsibility of Speaker. His past behaviour shouldn’t stop him from addressing that sort of behaviour now. Tolerance of harassment has significantly diminished.

Parliament should set an example (a good example) to the population, and the review is a good to do this.

Hopefully MPs will learn something from it. Robust debate is an essential part of a healthy democracy, but in the past MP behaviour has gone far further than that with attacks on opponents capable of being seen as bullying and harassment.

Quite contrasting reactions from Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters.

NZ Herald: Winston Peters has ‘no idea’ why bullying review into Parliament is taking place

Most MPs welcomed the review, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said Parliament was not immune to such issues.

“It is high pressure. There’s long hours. There’s no excuse, though, for that to result in poor behaviour, so it’s worthwhile to undertake this exercise,” Ardern said.

But someone’s nose seems to be out of joint – or perhaps there are feelings of guilt.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has poured cold water on Parliament’s review of workplace bullying and harassment, saying he has “no idea” why it is taking place.

Peters said he had not been consulted, adding that being told in advance did not amount to consultation.

“I’ve got no idea why this is being requested by the Speaker at all. I have not been consulted on that matter, so I’m not prepared to make any comment at all.”

Asked if he supported the review, Peters said: “We’ll find out when the review happens.”

He joked that the media had subjected him to bullying.

“I’m going to tell the interviewer that the only person being seriously bullied around this place for a long time is one Winston Peters – by people like you.”

Given Peters’ use of the media to attack people that’s ironic.

And given Peters’ manner towards journalists trying to interview him the question of bullying could easily be put to him – but Peters has long used attack as a form of defence.

At least Mallard has recognised moves to address and reduce poor MP behaviour, seemingly having learned from his own mistakes and unsatisfactory behaviour in the past.

If anything Peters is getting worse now he is in one of the most powerful positions he has attained in Parliament. A sense that his longevity in Parliament gives him some sort of right to act as he pleases highlights how out of step his combative and cantankerous approach is in the modern world of politics and in society in general).

Review into bullying and harassment at Parliament

The Speaker, Trevor Mallard, has announced an external review into the bullying and harassment of staff at Parliament.

Note that this doesn’t address behaviour between MPs in Parliament or via the media, and it doesn’t address bullying and harassment of MPs by media.


Independent review launched into bullying and harassment at Parliament

Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, announced today that an independent external review into bullying and harassment of staff within the Parliamentary workplace will take place.

“Bullying and harassment are not acceptable in any workplace. It’s important that people at Parliament feel respected, safe, and supported each day coming to work,” the Speaker said.

The review will begin in early December 2018 and is expected to take at least four months to complete. It will look to:

  • Establish whether bullying and harassment (including sexual harassment) has occurred and, if it has, the nature and extent of this towards staff employed or engaged since the 51st Parliament (since October 2014). This includes contract staff, who regularly work on precinct, and former staff who no longer work in the Parliamentary workplace.
  • Review how previous complaints have been handled; whether policies, procedures, and related controls are effective; how they compare to best practice and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015; and whether there are any barriers to reporting or making complaints
  • Assess the culture of Parliament as a place to work and allow for consideration of other matters brought up in the review.

A draft report, with findings and recommendations, will be presented to the Speaker and the Chief Executive or General Manager of participating Parliamentary agencies. Following the delivery of the report, the agencies will consider how to action the report’s recommendations.

At an appropriate time, the report will be made public.

Who is leading the review?

Debbie Francis, an experienced consultant and independent external reviewer, will carry out the review. Debbie has previously led performance improvement reviews at Parliament, and elsewhere on behalf of the State Services Commission. Her recent work on bullying and harassment at the New Zealand Defence Force will be of particular value to this review.

The Speaker is sponsoring the review and will work with the agencies for which he is responsible to address the findings.

Participating in the review

The review will provide current and former Parliamentary staff with an opportunity to share any relevant experiences of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, within the Parliamentary workplace. The review covers people employed or engaged by the Parliamentary Service, Ministerial and Secretariat Services, and the Office of the Clerk since the 51st Parliament.

 

Craig v Williams strike out attempt fails

This is another chapter in the widening litigation after Colin Craig was attacked via Whale Oil and Craig retaliated via a media conference and a nationwide mail-out of a pamphlet.

Craig is counter claiming defamation against Jordan Williams in a parallel case to the original claim Williams made against Craig.

Williams v Craig

Williams took Craig to court for defamation. Williams won and was awarded a record amount by a jury. However this was overturned by the judge. Wrangling on this case recently got as far as the Supreme Court, and remains unresolved.

Craig v Williams

Meanwhile, Craig also later filed separately for defamation against Williams.

This differs from the Craig v Slater v Craig claim and counter-claim which were heard at the same time (early last year, still no judgment).

Earlier this year Williams applied to the High Court for:

(a) striking out the plaintiff’s (Mr Craig’s) claim as an abuse of process;

(b) if the proceeding is not struck out, transferring the proceeding to the Wellington Registry of the Court; and

(c) if the proceeding is not struck out, ordering Mr Craig to provide security for Mr Williams’ costs

Williams partially succeeded but largely failed.

The claims made by Mr Craig

[4] On 29 May 2017, Mr Craig filed this proceeding (“the Craig proceeding”) against Mr Williams, alleging that Mr Williams made defamatory statements about Mr Craig in the period between 26 May 2015 and 26 June 2015.

[5] Mr Craig’s statement of claim pleads six separate causes of action, each relating to statements allegedly published by Mr Williams.

Conclusions on the strike-out application:

[99] In my view, the issue of whether Mr Craig sexually harassed Ms MacGregor (by means falling short of sexual assault) has been conclusively determined against him in the Williams proceeding.

The causes of action and parts of causes of action that argued whether Mr Craig sexually harassed Ms MacGregor were all struck out.

[128] The pleaded meaning that Mr Craig had sexually harassed Ms MacGregor will be struck out, for the reasons discussed earlier.

But other parts of five of the six claims were allowed to stand. Craig was directed to file and serve an amended statement of claim.

[129] I do not consider there is a sufficient basis to strike out the other pleaded meanings, both of which are concerned with sexual harassment of women other than Ms MacGregor.

Williams also asked that the proceedings be struck out due to the existence of other proceedings. This was declined.

[159] Mr Williams points to numerous Court proceedings Mr Craig has now filed against a number of parties, including Mr Slater, Ms MacGregor, and Mr Stringer. It appears that all of these claims relate broadly to the same series of events in 2015.

[160] I do not think I can make anything of these other claims in the context of the present application. I did not receive any detailed submissions on the nature of the other claims, and I have no basis for finding that they were unnecessary or improper, or otherwise an abuse of the Court’s process. I am dealing here with a strike-out application in respect of this one proceeding, and I think it would be dangerous to conclude from the fact that there are a number of other proceedings commenced by Mr Craig that this proceeding was commenced for an improper collateral purpose, or was otherwise an abuse of the Court process. I decline to strike out the Craig proceeding on the basis of the existence of these other proceedings.

Williams also applied for an order for security of costs. This was dismissed.

Williams also applied for an order transferring the proceeding to the Wellington registry of the Court (from Auckland). This was dismissed.

Craig has failed to re-litigate findings that he sexually harassed MacGregor, but otherwise he successfully opposed Williams applications.

So this means that as well as Williams versus Craig continuing on it’s way through the courts, Craig versus Williams is now also able to proceed.

Full judgment here

 

Media add to pressure on victim of harassment

It is reported that one of the women alleging harassment by ex MP Jami-Lee Ross may be involved in a confidentiality agreement with the National Party. I don’t think we should rush to conclusions here.

But appears this is exactly what the media has done, without considering the impact on the victim of them flying into the issue without properly considering the situation and the rights and wishes of the victim.

If the party has suppressed the issue against the wishes of a victim then that deserves exposure and condemnation. But if the agreement was willingly made with the victim then what’s the problem with the agreement?

The victim Katrina Bungard has now revealed her identity. She says that she feels that the National Party did all they could to help at the time, and she has released a statement this morning saying that the media attention is making things worse.

Newsroom:  National officials must answer for Ross ‘cover-up’

Questions to be answered

Goodfellow is hardly being forthcoming about his role, saying only that “any issues that we were aware of that were raised, were dealt with at the time” – a statement that hardly seems adequate.

It is unclear exactly how much he knew about Ross’ behaviour, and whether there were any further complaints to him or officials on top of the one which led to the confidentiality agreement – facts which could offer mitigation.

But if Goodfellow wants the benefit of the doubt, he owes it to the party and the public to provide as thorough an explanation as possible without compromising the privacy of the woman involved.

Of course, Ross is the only one responsible for his actions, and the women’s testimony of being “nearly destroyed”, “intimidated, threatened and abused”, and “used” by the Botany MP speaks volumes.

But if this saga has taught us one thing, it is that operating in the shadows does little good for anyone.

Victims often do not like the glare of publicity driven by media rushing in without properly considering the victim’s rights and wishes.

The victim has reacted to media attention this morning. From RNZ:

 

 

National Party candidate claims harassment by Jami-Lee Ross

One woman has gone public about what she claims was harassment by Jami-Lee Ross. This is in relation to the Howick Community Board where Ross campaigned for his wife to be appointed board chair. others have complained about Ross’ behaviour over this too, including the person who became chair.

It wasn’t sexual but was serious enough for the women to complain to the National Party (not the parliamentary part) and to seek medical help. At the least Ross has proven again to be a pushy arrogant arse.

NZ Herald: National candidate speaks out over harassment by rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross

A National Party candidate has spoken about a campaign of harassment by rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross which became so severe she sought medical help and intervention by the party hierarchy.

Manurewa candidate Katrina Bungard told the Herald Ross had harassed her in 2016 and 2017.

She said Ross began the campaign to get wife Lucy Schwaner appointed as chair of the Howick Community Board in east Auckland.

Bungard – a teacher – said her experience of harassment by Ross had led her to complain to National Party hierarchy.

“They did what they could, which is talk to him. There wasn’t enough evidence of anything extreme.”

However, Bungard said her personal experience led her to a definite perspective.

“I thought it was extreme.”

Ross had wanted Bungard – and others on the board – to support Schwaner and he had enlisted so-called political strategist Simon Lusk to assist.

Lusk involved again. Odd paying for a political hit man to try to get his wife voted as community board chair.

“(Lusk) rang me and told me I could have a great career in politics, that he would get me this job and that job.

“Then he said he can only do these things if you’re in a good place with Jami-Lee. If you fall out, I can’t do anything.”

“You know it’s not a good day when you’re getting calls from Simon Lusk.”

Bungard said the harassment had been ongoing for a few years.

“It’s been a pretty hard time for me. I had to get medical help. I was off work, working on my Master’s thesis. I had to get an extension on the thesis and medical note saying I had been under a lot of intense pressure.

“I was concerned for my own family. I had phone calls where he was ‘going to war’ with me and my family.”

Bungard said the campaign shifted after she voted for David Collings, as did the majority of others on the board.

Collings had complained to National Party general manager Greg Hamilton about Ross’ behaviour over the vote for the chair’s role.

Collings said: “He was being a dickhead and a bit of a prat and I wanted him to stop. Greg said he would have a word to him. But it carried on.”

Nothing on it’s own seems particularly serious, but it seems to be a pattern of obnoxious behaviour and playing power games.

It included being served a trespass order when she tried to attend a National Party morning tea for senior citizens.

She had arrived at the meeting in the electorate – for which she was electorate secretary at the time – to be presented with the trespass by the electorate chair.

“I didn’t even get in the door.” She said she asked for the grounds and was told it was “because I had fallen out with Jami-Lee and he had been ordered to trespass me and I wasn’t welcome at any event Jami-Lee was hosting”.

Bizarre.

Bungard said she believed the party had done what it could but it was difficult when the harassment included constant low-level incidents over which there was no physical evidence.

“Greg and Peter Goodfellow did what they could at the time given the evidence they had to go on. But it was one person’s word against another. I’ve been a long-time supporter of the National Party and there was nothing they could do.

“I don’t hold National responsible for his behaviour at all.”

Ross must be held responsible for his behaviour, but it sounds like he made things awkward for the party, especially as he was an MP.

 

Four women claim harassment by Jami-Lee Ross

On Tuesday Jami-Lee Ross claimed that Simon Bridges had confronted him with claims that four woman had made allegations against him. Ross suggested he was in a similar situation to Brett Kavanaugh.

Paula Bennett was criticised for saying that Ross had acted “inappropriately for a married man” – Paula Bennett stands by claim Ross acted inappropriately for a married man, during tense interview with Jack Tame

National Deputy leader Paula Bennett stands by saying Jami-Lee Ross acted inappropriately for a married man but denies accusing him of sexual harassment.

Yesterday, as part of the extraordinary hour long stand-up in which he levelled a number of allegations at Simon Bridges and the National party, Mr Ross accused Ms Bennett of trying to scare him off with anonymous sexual harassment allegations.

Ms Bennett defended herself today, saying Mr Ross has mischaracterised a meeting they had.

“Well he came out yesterday and he said we’d made claims to him of sexual harassment and he likened himself to (US Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh, which I found extraordinary in itself,” Ms Bennett said.

Ms Bennett said she stood by telling media Mr Ross had acted inappropriately for a married MP.

At his media conference yesterday after making a complaint to the police about his allegations of corruption (against Bridges) Ross said:

“Well I’m the one here in front of a police station who’s just spoken to three senior sergeants about my concerns around the Electoral Act being broken, so

“I’ve said that I’m comfortable with all of my conduct, I’m comfortable that I am somebody who is standing up and doing the right thing.

“I know that there’s smears about me at the moment: what I think has always been something in New Zealand politics that we leave personal lives and family out of this.

“I’m comfortable with what I have with my wife – if the way in which we’re about to play politics, when a political party and the leader is under pressure, if they want to start lifting the bedsheets on everyone that works in that building, you guys and MPs, then I think there’ll be a lot of people concerned – even those that are throwing allegations now.”

But four women have indeed made claims, according to Newsroom – Jami-Lee Ross: Four women speak out

Over the past year, Newsroom investigations editor Melanie Reid has been looking into the background and behaviour of former National MP Jami-Lee Ross. She has talked to a number of people who have given detailed accounts, recordings and documents of their close working and personal relationships with the controversial politician.

So this is not just a reaction to this week’s events.

Some felt manipulated and intimidated by the way he goes about his politics and his social interactions. Others felt pressured not to speak out.

Today Newsroom presents, on the condition of anonymity, the stories of four women and the relationships which they now believe saw them variously groomed, used for access to information and power, and abused.

Each saw the MP speak out on Tuesday denying his leaders’ allegations of “harassment”, saying he was raised to respect all women.

Yesterday Ross, who is married with children, told journalists he was happy with how he had conducted his personal life and warned against anyone in politics trying to “lift the bedsheets”.

However, each of the women interviewed below wanted to speak out, now, to set the record straight.

Profile of a narcissist

A woman who moved in the same political circles as Ross says he targeted her for a relationship which evolved into controlling behaviour, “incoherent rages” and “brutal sex”.

The woman, who described herself as the ‘primary supply’ for Ross’s narcissistic tendencies, says she was manipulated during a time of personal vulnerability.

A close friendship developed into an affair after consistent and repeated pressure. She described it as “her biggest mistake”.

“It was very clear to me his political motivation was a lust for power and control.”

She saw her opportunity to get out after noticing him seeking ‘supplies’ in other women.

Playing the long game

Another woman says she “absolutely regrets” having an affair with Ross and now believes he manipulated her for information about key National Party figures.

What started as a work friendship at Parliament became sexual after Ross initiated back-and-forth messaging – often late into the night.

The woman told Newsroom that while the encounters were consensual, she felt Ross had “100 percent groomed her” in order to seek information about National Party members she had access to.

During this time Ross had suggested she sleep with other men in the workplace – including MPs who were married – and made many other inappropriate comments.

“He said things like ‘You’re going to go out tonight and pull’.”

The woman said her reaction to Ross’ claim he respected “all women” was to “laugh out loud”.

Threats and harassment

A National Party member who says she was on the receiving end of Ross’ abuse, says she was “completely floored” by his claim he had never harassed a woman.

“I watched as Jami-Lee Ross looked reporters in the eye and told the nation that he, ‘to the best of his knowledge, had never harassed a woman’.

“He was calm. He was collected. He was every bit the master of deception.”

He went on to say that “he was raised by his grandmother to respect women”.

“Well, during the past two years, I can assure the public that my dealings with Jami-Lee Ross have never left me more harassed and disrespected as a woman in my whole life.”

“This man is a narcissist. He absolutely turns on people when he doesn’t get his own way. He is a master manipulator and a deceitful liar who has no problem looking somebody in the eye and outright lying.”

A pattern of behaviour

A woman who worked in close quarters with Ross says he “nearly destroyed” her.

“Not only was he rude and arrogant, he falsely accused me of things I didn’t do. He really didn’t treat me fairly.”

The woman had a history of many years in Parliament, and says she has never experienced anything like it “before or since”.

Ross continually undermined her and her work.

“He was setting me up and I knew I hadn’t done the things he said I had.”

The stress and anxiety became so bad she had to seek medical help.

“I didn’t even feel like I could enter the building afterwards … he destroyed me as a person.

“It makes me shake, just thinking of him.”

Ross didn’t respond to Newsroom requests for a response.

 

Nottingham has not been acting alone

Dermot Nottingham has not acted alone in his actions taken against many people, including harassment and defamation via laudafinem.com and in a number of legal proceedings, some of which have been described as abuses of process, vexatious and more by various judges.

In April Nottingham was found guilty at a jury trial of five charges of criminal harassment and two charges of breach of non-publication orders (suppression). He was sentenced in July to the maximum one year of home detention and ordered not to use the Internet. The Crown had sought a prison sentence and may appeal (Nottingham already indicated he would appeal).

See Blogger dodges prison over court suppression breaches, harassment campaigns and “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

Last week Nottingham was adjudicated bankrupt, largely due to unpaid court costs of about a quarter of a million dollars as a result of five failed private prosecutions.

See Dermot Nottingham adjudicated bankrupt

Nottingham has given post traumatic stress disorder and mental health as reasons for some of his behaviour, but that doesn’t explain everything. And he has not acted alone.

While stating he had debts of about $2 million Nottingham tried to avoid bankruptcy by putting a proposal to creditors. A majority of alleged creditors with claimed debts of over $1.5 million voted in favour of the proposal, but as none of them provided proof of their claims these were rejected by the judge, who said:

“In my view, there is a public interest in Mr Nottingham being bankrupted so that the Official Assignee can investigate and establish whether all of these claims are legitimate…”.

Those claims were mostly if not entirely made by family and associates of Nottingham, including:

  • Phillip Nottingham$480,728 – cash advances, unpaid rent, guarantees, work completed – not paid, goods and services supplied
  • Phillip Nottingham with power of attorney for his mother for $450,000  – advances, guarantees
  • Earle McKinney for $248,650 – cash advances, guarantees, unpaid services (two others giving the same address also made claims)
  • Marc Spring for $28,765 – cash advances, multiple motor vehicle expenses, Breiting mens (sic) watch
  • Cam Slater $10,450

I have no information of what Slater’s claim was for, but for the others the above descriptions are all that was given. There was no substantiating evidence for about 18 creditors. Some claims, and part of some claims, may be legitimate, but that will be checked out by the OA.

Nottingham’s sentencing notes allude to others being involved:

[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.

In the private prosecution of myself and Allied Press (charges withdrawn after eleven months) and similarly with the private prosecutions of APN Ltd and Lynn Prentice (charges dismissed at trial) there were a number of people involved with assisting Nottingham, including:

Earle McKinney arranged service of court documents, shared the same email address as Nottingham linked to McKinney’s business Advantage Advocacy Ltd (registered address was Nottingham’s residential address, now in liquidation) of which Nottingham was an employee, threatened further charges via that email, signed court documents on Nottingham’s behalf, has appeared with Nottingham at court hearings.

McKinney has been virtually joined at the hip with Nottingham in the private prosecutions, including acting as a ‘McKenzie friend’.

[24] Importantly, for present purposes, the affidavit was in any event inadmissible. As I noted in my judgment, it was replete with irrelevant material, opinion evidence and pontification by a Mr McKinney, who appeared as Mr Nottingham’s McKenzie friend, as to what he – Mr McKinney – thought the law is, or perhaps more precisely,
should be. The affidavit contained a number of pejorative comments about Judge Collins and how he ran the trial.

NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 1004 [9 May 2018]

Cameron Slater was named as an informant with all four prosecutions. He was named as an ‘expert witness’ but never provided a witness statement in my and Allied Press prosecutions. He was a witness in the APN/Prentice trial:

Mr Cullen submits that the prosecutor’s failings can be summarised in this way:

  • calling a witness who had not been brief (sic), Mr Slater. The detail and nature of this evidence had not been provided to the defence prior to the presentation of the witness to the Court;

NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 596 [29 March 2018]

Phillip Nottingham submitted a lengthy affidavit in support of his brother Dermot for the costs hearings in 2016.  I spent half a day reading the only copy at court when I discovered it was there (this was never served despite follow up court orders to do so).

Marc Spring served charging documents. He openly tagged teamed with @laudafinem on Twitter, starting just prior to charges being served, in what amounted to months of harassment via Twitter. I believe he was also a contributor to laudafinem.com via posts and comments. Under numerous pseudonyms he breached court orders and tried to severely disrupt the operation of Your NZ.

In December Spring served a court order on me that attempted to force me to edit him out of Your NZ (where he was named, not where he used pseudonyms, and attempted to force full time moderation with no comments automatically posting. This turned out to be a legal farce, as it used the Harmful Digital Communications Act but didn’t follow correct procedures, and it was a year before the Act came into force, so was discharged when the judge was informed of this – see Court order discharged.

This was discussed on Kiwiblog, with Slater becoming involved indicating he was also linked. He said:

“Your fascination with me and your allowing of despicable and defamatory comments about me and my friends is coming to an end”.

(Emphasis added)

It was covered again later at Kiwiblog in  Judge got it wrong on HDCA – there are some interesting comments.

“If that was done in the knowledge that the grounds did not exist, it seems a clear attempt to pervert the course of justice. If not, it says something about the legal skills of the applicant.”

“Seems the lawyer who sought the order needs to be hauled up before a disciplinary committee. The lawyer is as much to blame as the judge for the foul-up, indeed significantly more so.”

“Negligent is a more than charitable description. It is at best appalling incompetence and at worst an attempt to pervert the course of justice. Assuming, of course, that a lawyer was involved. If not, then the judge really dropped the ball.”

Associated with this a press release was published showing Dermot Nottingham as the document author, which threatened prison. Following the failure of the court order Nottingham tried to get this action included in his prosecution and demanded I be imprisoned by Christmas (2015) but that was rejected by the judge.

In May 2016 Slater put out a press release over the Rachinger/Standard hack – this was posted a day before suppression lapsed on laudafinem.com – either he or someone with access to his press release in advance must have passed it on to ‘Lauda Finem’. Slater may have breached his own suppression. See Slater on the Standard hack.

In my case (also Allied Press, APN and Prentice) Nottingham may have also breached his own suppression over a period of months, if he had anything to do with the posts attacking me and revealing details of his private prosecution. Someone with knowledge of his prosecutions was writing posts for Lauda Finem.

Dermot Nottingham, Phillip Nottingham and McKinney have been engaged in a protracted dispute involving three people and the Real Estate Authority that started in think in 2011 and is still unresolved. A summary (to early 2017) here: NOTTINGHAM, NOTTINGHAM AND MCKINNEY v THE REAL ESTATE AGENTS AUTHORITY [2017] NZCA 1 [27 February 2017]

Another protracted proceeding, going for over six years and scheduled for trial, is the defamation case Blomfield v Slater. Nottingham and Spring have also been associated with that.

[1] The appellant, Mr Slater, operates a blog on the internet which he calls Whale Oil. The respondent, Mr Blomfield, has sued him in the Manukau District Court claiming he has been defamed by material published on the website.

[14] However, the Judge considered there was no evidence that Mr Blomfield had endeavoured to bully and intimidate Mr Spring, or others who had already been disclosed as sources of information given to Mr Slater. The email exchange between Mr Blomfield and Mr Spring indicated that Mr Spring appeared “to be sending Mr Blomfield aggressive and abusive texts”, with Mr Blomfield taking a “relatively defensive position”.

[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 number as that of Mr Blomfield and decided not to take the call. Instead, he telephoned Mr Slater to seek his advice. Mr Slater was unavailable, but an associate, Mr Nottingham, advised him to take the next call from Mr Blomfield and to record it. It was then arranged that instead Mr Mattu would telephone Mr Blomfield while Mr Nottingham remained on the line and both would record what was said. That then ensued, the discussion lasting for some 26 minutes. A little over an hour later, Mr Mattu again telephoned Mr Blomfield while Mr Nottingham was on the line.

SLATER V BLOMFIELD [2015] NZCA 562 [19 November 2015]

Counsel: C J Slater, in person, Defendant
(D Nottingham as McKenzie Friend for Mr Slater)

BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2017] NZHC 1654 [18 July 2017]

Court notes show that a hard drive belonging to Blomfield, containing business and personal data, was supplied to Slater, and he used contents of that to put up posts on Whale Oil attacking Blomfield. When Blomfield took Slater to court alleging defamation, Slater made an agreement with the court not to post further attacks on Blomfield.

The hard drive ended up in the hands of ‘Lauda Finem’, who then posted many attacks on Blomfield. Eventually (late 2016) according to Lauda Finem, Blomfield shut down their website with a court order.

Marc Spring also started posting attacks on Blomfield at Your NZ using a variety of pseudonyms (for example he would post an attack, then under another name support that comment to try to legitimise it). I was informed that this may be in breach of a restraining order:

Mr Blomfield’s application for a restraining order against Mr Spring was successful in the Auckland District Court. In delivering judgment, Judge Dawson noted that the relationship between the two was “toxic”. 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 accordingly made against Mr Spring and remains in force until 9 April 2016.

So I prevented Spring from posting further comments on Blomfield. Spring then started accusing me of acting under Blomfield’s instruction (I wasn’t).

Over a year later Nottingham made written submissions (during a costs hearing that he didn’t attend) accusing me of some sort of collusion with Blomfield. The judge rejected this submission as irrelevant.

Leading up to a costs appeal hearing Nottingham emailed me on 27 June 2017 (using the Advantage Advocacy Ltd email account):

I confirm that you still face contempt applications in police v dn.  You will be required to attend at Auckland or by video link if the court allowed.

I have copied in messrs slater and so they can apply to comment on your defamatory statements.

It may be that they consider a fresh application under the hdca 2015

Kind regards

dn

Another email on 28 June 2017 (also to Spring and Slater):

Dear Messrs Spring, and Slater

I am available with others tomorrow to discuss the issues relating to Mr Georges campaign of criminal harassment.

Please find annexed the highly defamatory and contemptuous documentation filed by [the perp] Peter George.

I agree with both of you that a further application under the Harmful Digital Communications Act might be appropriate, but this time for a complete close down, and I further accept that proceedings under section 24 of the Defamation Act 1992, would also be appropriate for you both.

I have invited professionals that can advise you Mr Spring, in particular given Mr Georges inimical contact with your ex employer, who I understand is prepared to give evidence.  They have advised that the entire proceedings would be held in Auckland.

Such an application would need to be made on notice to Mr George.  George will likely represent himself which would be an issue, and I suggest that an application for Amicus to assist Mr George might be necessary.

Mr George has lied in his recent subs to the Court, and this will be proved to the Criminal Standard by your evidence to the High Court at Dunedin.

I look forward to your presence tomorrow.  At your instructions, Mr Slater, I have ordered in catering for 14, and an international video link in relation to one of your supporters.

Kindest regards

Dermot Nottingham

I wonder if the international ‘supporter’ is @laudafinem from the Netherlands (ex Australia, ex New Zealand), another brother. or it could be just more bluster.

Claims in that are laughable and ridiculous, but typical of numerous threats of further litigation and ‘investigations’. My wife has also been threatened, my brother implicated, and my lawyer was threatened with being reported for misconduct if he didn’t get me to plead guilty.

Dermot Nottingham is generally regarded as the main offender, hence his prosecution. As described by the sentencing judge:

“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.”

“The leading mind” implies some sort of higher intelligence, which is debatable, but it could be true given the line up of associates.

But it is clear that there is a line up of associates alongside Nottingham, aiding and abetting and engaging in similar bullying, harassment and defamation. A common practice of Nottingham, Spring and Slater is to accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of doing – to the extent that sometimes their accusations sound almost like confessions, or revealing intent.

With the convictions and bankruptcy things have finally unravelled for Nottingham, and there could be more repercussions for him. Some of his associates may also find themselves under more scrutiny (Slater ‘already’ faces trial next month).

In my opinion this group of people have run despicable campaigns against many people, including possible defamation of judges, and allegations of judges and court officials being corrupt (for example allegations of court transcript tampering, and collusion with police and media as happened in the application to file charges against myself).

They may finally be held to account.

I am publishing this so that others who may have been or may be subject to their attention can know some of what they have done. I knew virtually nothing about them (apart from Slater) before they started their campaign of harassment against me. If I knew what sort of people I was dealing with I would have approached things differently – in particular I would have pushed much harder for the courts to not let them abuse processes and ignore laws, court rules and court directions often with impunity for years.

My stuff is still dragging through the courts over three years after the prosecution charges were filed. others have been battling them and the court system for much longer – six years, eight years.

There are signs that courts are finally getting tougher. Good.

I know of a number of others who say they have been subjected to egregious treatment by these people.

As the judge said on adjudicating bankruptcy:

During the 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 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.

Unquestionably these apparently groundless prosecutions have wreaked havoc with the lives of those wrongly accused of criminal activity. In my view, if Mr Nottingham’s bankruptcy puts an end to this practice on his part, then that is a public good.

I agree that putting an end to ‘this practice’ is in the public good. And I believe that making the public aware of what Nottingham and his associates have done is also in the public good.

 

Dermot Nottingham sentenced for criminal harassment, suppression breaches

Dermot Nottingham was sentenced in the Auckland District Court yesterday for breaching suppression, and for five counts of criminal harassment.

Internet blogger Dermot Nottingham was sentenced today in the Auckland District Court. Photo / Sam Hurley

The person who has also been harassing me online and through litigation

He was charged in April 2015 – see  the year he was charged, and he and associates of his continued harassing others after that – including me extensively, and others who were and are associated with Your NZ.

And it seems that Nottingham remains unrepentant,

It seems remarkable that he avoided a prison sentence, despite the Crown prosecutor suggesting a four year sentence. He was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 100 hours’ community work. Thee prosecutor said an appeal of the sentence would be up to the crown law office.

Nottingham plead not guilty and defended himself, and says he will appeal the conviction. That is no surprise – I need to be cautious at the moment about how much I say, but he is currently attempting what would be the third appeal on costs awarded against him as a result of a failed private prosecution  of me and others.

He is also currently involved in court proceedings with an attempt being made to have him declared bankrupt for failure to pay substantial court costs (I am one creditor).

See:

Also:

I and Allied Press were charged at the same time as Prentice and APN (Herald) but our cases were transferred to where they should have been laid, Dunedin.

NZ Herald has details: Blogger dodges prison over court suppression breaches, harassment campaigns

A blogger described as “malicious and nasty” has narrowly avoided prison after breaching suppression orders in a prominent Auckland court case and leading a prolonged campaign of criminal harassment against five people, including a former MP.

Dermot Gregory Nottingham was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 100 hours’ community work today in the Auckland District Court, after what Judge Jonathan Down described as a blatant and contemptuous breach of court orders and an arrogant view of right and wrong.

A jury found Nottingham guilty of five criminal harassment charges and two breaches of court suppression orders following a trial, in which Nottingham represented himself, during April and May.

In 2014, the brothers pleaded guilty to assault, were discharged without conviction and granted permanent name suppression by the High Court.

Just days later, Nottingham wrote his blogs naming the two brothers and publishing photos of them alongside details of the case.

Nottingham said of the breach: “It would seem odd to be punished for supplying information to an overseas website about two killers that received no punishment.”

Even more odd than Nottingham’s denial of doing anything wrong is his attempt to prosecute others for (he alleged) breaching suppression by helping people to search for and find the information he ‘supplied’.

As a result of Nottingham’s disregard for the court’s order, a police detective began investigating the website and found “several campaigns of harassment”.

Some of the five people identified as potential victims had gone to police but were told officers could do nothing, the court heard.

Nottingham’s harassment against his victims, all of whom have permanent name suppression, took place between 2011 and 2015.

And continued after he was charged, against me and others. It wasn’t just him involved, there were others actively involved as well. I won’t name them at this stage, until I find out what is able to be said – but there’s a lot to this story, and it is time it came out.

The blogger’s targets included business people, civil servants, and a former Member of Parliament.

Photos were taken of them and their homes and the allegations published online falsely claimed drug abuse and corruption.

Some long time regulars here will recognise how similar that sounds to what was published online about me and commenters from YourNZ – after Nottingham was charged. It may not have been him doing it, but it was closely associated with him.

Nottingham also made a veiled violent threat against one victim and wrote “two shots to be sure” alongside the person’s name.

One of the victims said they had been stalked and photographed, with their images appearing on the blog page.

I have posted here about veiled threats against me. Photos of me and my house were posted online.

And serious accusations made against me and others were simply made up, false. Some of my family were threatened and implicated in conspiracies. This was all done at least by people associated with or related to Nottingham, and he did have some direct involvement here.

Brian Dickey, Auckland’s crown solicitor, said Nottingham’s harassment was at the high end of the criminal spectrum, calling it “so malicious, so nasty”.

The prosecutor said the offending articles remained on the internet and are displayed prominently when the victims’ names are entered into a Google search.

“He shows absolutely no insight into his offending, no remorse.”

That is remarkable the articles still remain online.

Nottingham had, in part, argued a prison sentence would be manifestly excessive due to his health complications, some of which saw him hospitalised for a week during the trial.

However, Dickey attempted to rebut the claims by arguing Nottingham’s health would improve if he lost some weight.

Dickey also strongly opposed home detention and sought a sentence of up to four years imprisonment.

Nottingham said he never intended to threaten the safety of his victims, but Dickey was concerned he would now simply use someone else’s computer or phone to continue his harassment.

“And our business with Mr Nottingham will continue,” Dickey told Judge Down.

Good. So will mine.

Nottingham tried to ague at trial that his “articles” were covered by freedom of expression rights.

Bullshit. He blatantly broke the law.

And he’s a huge hypocrite. He and his cronies used a ridiculous court order to try and shut me up and shut YourNZ down.  See Court order discharged .

“People have different opinions about what is said in articles,” he said today. “The articles contained words that the jury found offensive … I’m not a bully.”

In my opinion he is a highly vindictive vexatious bullying bastard. I know others have similar opinions of him.

However, Judge Down said the right to free speech or freedom of expression is not a paramount right.

Nottingham, nonetheless, stood by his blogs and said his words remained true and would survive a defamation trial.

He also blamed his victims and said, “if they had been honest … none of this would have occurred”.

He keeps failing to accept any responsibility, and keeps blaming others – I have many examples of this that I hope to be able to reveal at some stage.

The judge the “unique” case showed Nottingham had an abrasive and combative approach to others.

“Mr Nottingham is unlikely to accept what he did was not only unlawful but reprehensible,” he said.

What he was charged for was reprehensible – and there’s a lot more, from my own experience and from what others have told me.

Why no prison sentence? He actually tried to get me imprisoned (December 2015 ‘in prison by Christmas’) because I stood up to his threats and bullying.

Nottingham has indicated he will appeal the jury’s verdicts, while Dickey told the Herald a potential appeal of the sentence would be a decision for the Crown Law Office.

I hope they carefully consider that.

When I get clarification on the status of suppression orders – while he claims free speech for himself Nottingham used courts to shut me up – I may give more detail on this.

In the meantime, no naming (or hinting) of the offending website please, that will be strictly moderated.

Given that Nottingham tried (and failed) to  prosecute the Herald for breaching suppressions (that he breached himself) my assumption is that they have carefully complied with any existing suppression orders in there article.

Still, please take care with what you say, but those of you here who were also targets may feel that some degree of free speech may be appropriate.

Nottingham has threatened me with further prosecutions and legal actions as recently as this year. I will continue to stand up to his bullying, but I will do it prudently.

Judge shortage and lawyer abuse major issues for judicial system

Two news items that may or may not be related.

NZH: Judge shortage pushing courts to crisis point, New Zealand Bar Association says

The law society and the New Zealand Bar Association are calling on the Government to increase the number of judges available to carry out district court business to address critical resourcing levels.

The organisations are speaking out after a column written by the Chief District Court Judge, Jan-Marie Doogue, in which she said there would be a redeployment in judicial resource from the criminal jurisdiction to the Family Court, to meet the backlog.

NZLS Criminal Law Committee convenor Steve Bonnar QC said the access to justice in the district court was under threat and moving resources from the family court to the criminal courts would only move the problem.

New Zealand Bar Association president Clive Elliott said resourcing had reached a critical point and immediate intervention by the Government was needed.

A serious backlog had arisen in the Family Court where there were about 8000 Care of Children Act cases waiting to be heard, he said.

“The situation in the Family Court is one example. It is clearly serious when the welfare of so many children is likely to be affected by these delays. The reality is that the only way the courts can manage is by pushing further delays on to litigants.”

Prior to the passing of the District Court Act 2016, although there was cap on the number of permanent judges who could be appointed, lawyers as well as retired judges could be appointed as acting judges.

The 2016 Act now restricts appointment of acting judges to those who are former judges of the District Court and are under 75 years old so there is a much smaller pool of people who can be appointed as acting judges.

In real terms, there has been a fall in the total number of judges. In 2017 the total number of all judges was 179. By the end of May 2018, this will have fallen to 167 judges. The new cap in the legislation is 160.

On top of that, the cases judges were dealing with had increased in complexity and seriousness in criminal cases and there had been a considerable rise in the number of without-notice applications and defended applications in the Family Court, Elliott said.

He said the strain on the judiciary had been considerable and the country could not afford to lose experienced judges.

Lawyers become judges, and that isn’t a happy camp either. a report says the profession is facing a ‘cultural crisis’.

Stuff: Widespread harassment, bullying and racism identified within the law profession

The legal profession in New Zealand is facing a “cultural crisis” after a survey uncovered wide-ranging and ongoing sexual harassment, racism and bullying.

Commissioned by the New Zealand Law Society, the survey follows allegations of sexual abuse and harassment aired by some female lawyers earlier this year.

The Law Society said 13,662 lawyers were invited to take part in the confidential survey managed by Colmar Brunton, with 3516 responding.

Out of that total, the survey found widespread harassment throughout the profession, with 33 per cent of female lawyers experiencing crude or offensive behaviour that made them feel offended.

The survey found most victims of harassment were employee lawyers in a law firm. According to the data, the harasser was most likely to be the target’s manager, supervisor, partner or director.

Women were more likely than men to be harassed by someone in a more senior position.

Six per cent of lawyers who had been sexually harassed described the harassment as an actual or attempted rape or assault.

The survey found the reported nature of sexual harassment varied.

While non-physical forms of sexual harassment were most common, two thirds of lawyers who had experienced sexual harassment said it included some form of unwanted physical contact.

Over half of all lawyers surveyed said they had suffered some form of bullying in their career, with 21 per cent of lawyers experiencing bullying in the last six months.

Just over half of those who described being subjected to sexual harassment said it had been a one-off occasion.

Both sexual harassment and bullying behaviours were more common among lawyers working in criminal law, the survey said.

Bullying was more common in family law.

New Zealand Law Society President Kathryn Beck called the findings a “cultural crisis”.

“When nearly one third of female lawyers have been sexually harassed during their working life, when more than half of lawyers have been bullied at some time in their working life, when nearly 30 per cent of lawyers feel major changes are needed to the culture of their workplace, and when 40 per cent of lawyers under 30 believe major changes are needed to their workplace culture, we must call a spade a spade – there is a cultural crisis in the New Zealand legal profession,” she said.

Nearly one in five lawyers – 18 per cent of those surveyed – reported having been sexually harassed in a legal environment at some time in their working life.

The reported levels of abuse in the legal profession are alarming. An abusive environment will deter people from staying in the profession.

I don’t have anything to do with the legal profession, but I have had some experience in the legal/court system. This has been a long drawn out farce for three years and still waiting for a conclusion. While what I have been involved in may be abnormal it isn’t isolated, and has been blighted by lengthy court delays, only some of which can be blamed on a vexatious but incompetent lay litigator.

I have seen in a number of proceedings where judges have been very lenient dealing with repeated non-compliance with basic court rules and legislation, repeated abuses of process, associate harassment, and allowing an incompetent litigator to waste a lot of court time and resources. Judges have allowed themselves to be played by someone with a long record of legal and social media abuse.

Successive judges have ignored ongoing harassment while they have pandered to a malicious prick.

But this is probably only a small symptom in a court system under real pressure, and a legal profession that may well be forced to confront a crisis of abusive culture.

 

 

Human Rights Commission CFO gropes, keeps job

I think there is still a big and unresolved issue about how small but personally invasive actions can result in major repercussions – for both the victims and the offenders.

This groping story is of particular interest because a senior staff member of the Human Rights Commission is allegedly involved.

Stuff: Human Rights Commission finance boss sexually harasses young intern, keeps job

A young American woman cut short her internship at the Human Rights Commission after she was groped by the organisation’s chief financial officer at a work party.

The commission investigated a sexual harassment complaint against Kyle Stutter, which resulted in disciplinary action. However, three months on, he remains employed there as chief financial officer.

From what is reported it’s difficult to judge whether what happened was of job-losing severity or not. Consequences of harassment remains a highly contentious issue.

The intern says she trusted the commission to look after her; instead, she felt the complaints process and the attempts to gag her became all about “protecting the organisation”.

If that’s what happened it is of concern that the Human Rights Commission is gagging the victim to protect their reputation.

The commission is the country’s watchdog for unlawful discrimination and racial or sexual harassment. But the former intern says it seemed ill-equpped to deal with Stutter targeting her, and it didn’t acknowledge the seriousness of the incident.

It is alarming that the Commission responsible for dealing with unlawful discrimination and racial or sexual harassment can’t deal with their own internal cases adequately.

The allegation:

…one Friday night at a farewell party for a colleague, after work hours at a private venue. As the night wore on, her colleagues left and she planned to head home herself. Only she and Stutter remained.

At this point, Stutter began dancing with her, before advancing on her without her consent and groping her breasts and private parts, she said, despite her trying to push his hands away.

“I felt it was so severe that it was completely unacceptable and inappropriate.”

She told Stutter she needed to leave and he walked her out of the venue. She got in an Uber and left.

The aftermath and mediation:

“I sent him an email later that night, just to let him know that it wasn’t OK and he should have asked permission to dance with me, to do anything with me,” she said.

She felt Stutter’s return email was “not an adequate response”. She considered laying a complaint with police, but instead reported the incident to her immediate boss the following Monday. She was confident the commission would address it.

But a mediation demonstrated there was no specific policy to deal with the incident.

That’s surprising. Perhaps the thought that harassment policies were just for other organisations.

The result of the mediation was that Stutter sent her a written apology and had to undertake anti-harassment counselling. He also received a formal warning and had the incident recorded on his personnel file, to be removed after three years if there were no further complaints against him.

“I would have hoped to see there was some distinction drawn at some point, where something like this would be handled differently to someone just making an inappropriate comment.”

She added there should have been increased transparency around the matter. “The fact there is so much emphasis on confidentiality in their policies can make it really isolating.

“It wasn’t until the complaint got to the highest level that I felt it wasn’t so much about me any more, it was about protecting the organisation, and them hitting all the right points that they had to hit legally. Ultimately I felt it came down to making sure they could move on as an organisation.”

The Commission response:

Chief executive Cynthia Brophy said the organisation was reviewing its internal processes for dealing with sexual harassment and “if there is anything we can improve on we are keen to make sure this happens”.

“I have a high degree of trust and confidence in the professionalism of all of our staff and can confirm that there is no current complaint outstanding against anyone in the Human Rights Commission.”

That sounds like sweeping under the Commission carpet. And it isn’t a one off incident:

The complaint against Stutter isn’t the only sexual harassment complaint against the commission’s staff in the past five years.

Figures released to Stuff under the Official Information Act showed the organisation had investigated three sexual harassment complaints against three separate staff members dating back to 2013.

Each of the complaints progressed to an investigation, with Stutter’s the only case that resulted in disciplinary action. Two employees resigned before their investigations were completed.

That suggests (but doesn’t confirm) three legitimate complaints.

It is understood the complaint against Stutter was dealt with exclusively by Brophy and human resources, and none of the organisation’s four commissioners were aware of it until the intern had left.

Chief commissioner David Rutherford said, “the Human Rights Commission takes this matter very seriously”.

“It is an employment matter requiring us to respect all of the rights of our employees. We have confidence in how our chief executive is dealing with this matter.”

It was an employment matter, but it is more than that for the Human Rights Commission. If they can’t deal adequately with internal complaints how can the be trusted to deal with complaints reported to them to deal with, their core function?