More dirty blogging at Whale Oil revealed

Another court case has revealed more mercenary dirty blogging at Whale Oil by Cameron Slater. This was mentioned in comments here recently from news reports. A court judgment on costs reveals more details.

Stuff reported: Ex-Kristin principal recoups costs from ex-wife who judge said tried to ‘destroy’ him

A former top principal has been awarded $145,811 in court costs after his ex-wife allegedly tried to ruin his reputation.

Former Kristin School head Peter Clague was last year hauled to the Auckland District Court to answer a charge of assault – to which Judge David McNaughton quickly put an end.

in July last year Judge McNaughton threw the charge out, saying a jury would have been unable to convict and that the case had been brought in bad faith.

Clague has since sought costs for the court exercise, with his lawyer arguing that aside from bringing the prosecution in bad faith, Denham had also failed to respond to court directives or provide disclosure.

She had also allegedly launched a “sustained vicious and untrue media campaign on the part of Carrick Graham and [WhaleOil blogger] Cameron Slater”. 

Carrick Graham featured significantly in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’, for example in the paragraph named ‘Cash For Comments’ :

Cameron Slater willingly published years of pro-tobacco company spin as his own writing, some written by Graham…He then used the payments he received from Graham…”

And from the chapter titled ‘Chaos and Mayhem Limited’:

It is likely that Graham used the Whale Oil blog for various other clients…

An example of this was  the executive principal of a North Auckland private school who was in a matrimonial dispute with his exp-wife in late 2012. She hired Carrick Graham ‘to whom she was referred by her lawyer’ and a concerted character assassination began on Whale Oil.

The first post appeared on 24 October 2012, marked ‘via the tip line’ and hinted about a complaint made by the ex-wife…Posts followed on 28 and 30 October, then 3, 4, 6 and 8 November.

When a student tried to stick up for the principal in the Whale Oil comments, Salter responded ‘Is he running one up you too?’

That last comment was on the November 4 post titled ‘You Read it Here First’. It appears that the other posts are also still on public display.

Details of the Court judgment (made on 1 March 2016, published 11 July 2016) are available at Jackman v Clague [2016] NZDC 3266. This includes these paragraphs.

[9] In addition, Mr Lloyd sought to emphasise what he described as a sustained vicious and untrue media campaign on the part of Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater culminating in articles in the UK press as the defendant arrived there in August 2014 to take up a new position. He emphasised the collateral damage to the Kristin school community and submitted there was a very strong need for deterrents of bad faith prosecutions of this sort.

I would add bad faith blogging to that.

Paragraph [33] quotes from an earlier decision:

“I also observe that at the same time the informant was saying she was unable to remunerate a legal adviser and therefore required “pro bono” assistance, she was quite prepared to pay substantial fees to Mr Graham for his assistance in her approaching the media. She has also apparently decided to continue with these proceedings despite no doubt having been warned of a very serious cost implication should the defendant be found not guilty.”

In TOP SCHOOL HIT BY POLICE INVESTIGATION, CTD Slater (or Graham?) wrote:

Whenever I expose an issue that others are trying to keep quiet, the tip line literally explodes with new information. As I have always said, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

I don’t think Slater has ever explained that ‘tip line’ might refer to tips paid to him for posting dirty attacks, but I don’t think he has denied being a mercenary blogger, doing paid for online hit jobs.

And Whale Oil is, or at least was, a dirty mercenary blog. Pete Belt appears to have been directly involved at least later in the campaign against Clague.

From BET HE WAS REGISTERED, NOW HE’S RUNNING AWAY, which led with “Escaping New Zealand and a history of domestic assault means the UK now get a wife beater” Belt wrote in comments (note the use of ‘we’):

Fair call. The beating reference was because we call these people “wife beaters”, but you are absolutely correct. He is reported as having grabbed her by the throat and thrown her onto the stairs. No reference to beating.

So I should have said “Maurice doesn’t strangle his wife and throws her onto the stairs either”, to be fair.

‘Corporate refugee’ in response:

Well we don’t know that he did that either, it was “reported” (alleged really) by the person that is trying to bring the prosecution against him. Hopefully the court might be able to find out if it happened or not.

Belt:

Oh, don’t be pedantic. Apart from the fact that we do know. Whaleoil has direct knowledge in this case.

Whaleoil has a direct witness that was there when it did take place. What are your credentials beyond having a contrary opinion.

‘Corporate refugee’ was allowed to make a number of comments (this thread was in May 2014, just before the Belt driven purges began at Whale Oil).

The importance obviously attached by Ms Jackman to ensuring that the story (i.e. that she has taken out a private prosecution) was made public before any name suppression could be obtained speaks volumes. It would appear that the main (sole?) objective of her actions is to create maximum negative publicity and damage to Mr Clague.

I suspect that she already realises that the outcome of the hearing is likely to be the same as the police investigation (inconclusive), but of course it does give her the opportunity to create a bit more humiliation. But only with a media mouthpiece.

If her motive were genuinely to seek some sort of personal justice for herself through the courts for what was a private incident, why would it be so important for her have as much publicity as possible about it in the media?

There’s a number of quite familiar aspects in all of this. As well as a number of what appear to be campaigns with commercial interests involving Slater and Graham, Whale Oil has been used in a number of attempts at character assassination. The campaign against Blomfield is one – that is still going through the Court, with incremental legal and financial losses mounting for Slater.

There are other well publicised defamation cases under way targeting Slater – Graham seems to have been able to escape direct legal attention so far.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if there is more sunlight yet to shine on dirty blogging and associated abuse of legal processes involving Slater, Whale Oil, and others.