The Nottingham private prosecutions

It will have been obvious to those following Your NZ in July-August 2015 that there was some legal stuff happening. But I was then gagged through suppression orders so had to be careful what I posted. Until now.

Yesterday morning NZ Herald reported 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.

That case is closely linked to my legal misadventure, so much so that suppression on that was also applied to a private prosecution of myself and others.

I posted on this sentencing, trusting that the Herald would have carefully complied with suppression orders. Yesterday I sought and eventually got confirmation from the Auckland District Court that suppression had lapsed in that case, which meant that it will have also lapsed in my case.

Nottingham has a legal history that goes back a long way, including private prosecutions. That’s a different story.

This story is long and complicated – I will keep it as concise as possible – about my legal dealings with him have been going for three years, and are not over yet, with an application seeking leave to appeal currently before the Court of Appeal, with Nottingham promising to take it to the Supreme Court if he fails (again) with that.

While Nottingham is at the centre of all of this he has not acted alone. In my case others have been closely involved, including long time business associate and employer Robert Earle McKinney, brothers Phillip and I believe Antony (the Netherlands LF connection), Marc Spring and Cameron Slater.

In April 2015 NZ Herald published a report. A revised version of this is still online: Man accused of suppression breach

An Auckland man accused of breaching a high-profile name suppression has been granted name suppression himself.

The man appeared in Auckland District Court today facing two charges of contravening suppression orders. He is also charged with five counts of criminal harassment.

That article was republished by the Otago Daily Times, and as the original headline referred to it being a blogger it also attracted interest posts here on Your NZ and at The Standard.

Slater was an obvious candidate, as he had a history of suppression breaches resulting in convictions on multiple charges, but I could quickly rule him out. I did quite a bit of searching but ended up having no idea who this person was,

As with most stories it quickly faded into history. But it resurfaced in July when out of the blue I was served with court papers that were an application to lay charges against me for breaching suppression by a private prosecutor, Dermot Nottingham. This confirmed that Nottingham was the subject of the April article, the first time I knew it was him. At that stage I had heard of him but knew little about him.

Nottingham says he first went to the police but they declined to act, so he decided to conduct private prosecutions against myself, APN (Herald), Allied press (ODT) and Lynn Prentice.

Earle McKinney arranged for service of the papers. I willingly complied, having no idea what they were about. The application to lay charges claimed a conspiracy between police, court officials and the Herald.

It alleged that I had ‘entered into an online agreement with Lyn Prentice’, which was ridiculous – lprent had just re-banned me from the Standard (for a year) on 1 April 2015 after a previous one month ban in March.

About a week later Marc Spring served two charging documents – alternative charges of suppression breaches. This raised some suspicions, because about the time the first document was served Spring had suddenly started niggling at me, including suggesting I might be fucked over by Whale Oil like someone else had been, on Twitter in tandem with an LF account.

I did some investigating and found that Spring had been commenting on Your NZ since January 2015 using multiple pseudonyms. I had clashed with him when, as I later found out, he started attacking a Matthew Blomfield which was in breach of a Slater court agreement and a restraining order against Spring. That is a whole different (albeit related) story (also still before the courts, with a defamation hearing Blomfield v Slater due later this year).

The charges were odd – I was charged with publishing an article, the name of which matched a post at The Standard. Through the course of the proceedings I pointed out this was ridiculous and completely unfounded but that was ignored by the courts and by Nottingham.

As with much of Nottingham’s legal stuff it is difficult to know what is incompetence and what is deliberate confusion and chaos. I think it is usually a mangled mess of both.

Nottingham rang me soon after the charges were served, and we exchanged emails over a couple of days. He suggested I should plead guilty. Believing I was probably not guilty, I declined to commit, instead saying that I would seek legal advice. Over the next couple of weeks I found a lawyer to advise and represent me. This was my first experience with law and courts so I needed help. I (and my lawyer) had no idea what we were getting into.

A day or two after declining to confess I received an abrupt email from McKinney, saying he had been given instructions to scour the Internet, threatening further prosecutions, and demanded I respond by 4 pm that afternoon. I had no idea who McKinney was at that stage.

As it turned out McKinney was working closely with Nottingham. They always shared the same email address, Nottingham was purportedly an employee of McKinney, with both acting for Advantage Advocacy Ltd – now in liquidation.

McKinney eventually provided a witness statement in the prosecution. He also acted for Nottingham, including signing court submissions on his behalf. He is not a lawyer and I suspect this isn’t legally correct.

After another not very nice email from McKinney that was seemingly dealt with, but McKinney did a lot over the next few months to, I believe, lay further charges and when that failed, Nottingham tried to get a whole bunch of accusations included in his prosecution. The court never allowed this.

In July the LF website had already posted about me being in a ‘dirty dozen’ of journalists and bloggers and made other insinuations. In August more posts started to appear, targeting me, making outlandish claims and accusations, and these continued for about a year.

LF had in the post campaigned on some worthy causes. Occasionally. But I found out that mostly they found fragments of facts, grossly embellished them, jumped to ridiculous conclusions, and generally attacked and defamed many people. Their website was eventually shut down after court action against them. They popped up somewhere else but seem to have been stopped from posting there last year.

Many of the LF campaigns against people were closely aligned with Nottingham’s so-called justice campaigning. LF detailed a number of instances where they and Nottingham worked together.

And in the court case in which Nottingham has just been sentenced, according the the Herald report, he admits “supplying information to an overseas website”. It happens that that ‘overseas website’ contained almost entirely New Zealand related content, often closely related to Nottingham’s legal crusading.

It appears that LF was based overseas simply to try to avoid New Zealand law. That eventually blew up in Nottingham.

The private prosecution progressed slowly, with many delays and disruptions.

The first hearing was in September in Auckland where the charges were filed. My and Allied Press’ charges were transferred to Dunedin where they should have been laid in the first place – in the court closest to the defendants,

What followed was a hopeless legal mess.

When charges are laid within 15 working days the prosecutor is supposed to provide initial disclosure, that is supposed to clearly explain the charges and the case against you. It is normally brief, especially in simple cases as theoretically this one should have been, a few pages. That was due by mid August 2015.

After Nottingham failed to provide this lawyer’s requests were sent, the court directed compliance, and then set dates by which it had to be provided. By late November it still hadn’t been done – and at one stage Nottingham said he was deliberately withholding it pending ‘further investigations’.

Finally in early December documents arrived. A lot of them. A pile 9 cm thick. Largely a pile of nonsense. Much of it was screen shots of web pages and printouts of articles and posts. Most if not all of it would have been inadmissible. It was a monster of a mess, but it all had to be read in case there was something critical to the case in it. That gets expensive when you’re paying a lawyer. I did quite a bit of the reading and summarised.

One interesting thing I discovered – Cameron Slater was an informant for the prosecution.

McKinney’s witness statement was included, most if not all would have been inadmissible.

An expert witness was named, but nothing ever eventuated from them. They turned out to be the creditor that initiated the liquidation of Advantage Advocacy.

When lawyers made it clear that disclosure was manifestly inadequate the judge arranged a conference call in mid December to organise a way forward. Nottingham filed memoranda the morning immediately prior – very late filings became the norm – and tried to turn it into a move to imprison me by Christmas.

The judge rejected this, but due to the disruptions adjourned for another conference the following day. More late filings, another shambles. Nottingham blocked me from listening to his accusations and claims. As a result the judge ruled that conference calls were out of the question.

A date for the next hearing was set. Nottingham said he needed a holiday and wanted to wait until the following March. The judge obliged – throughout the protracted court proceedings I have been amazed and disappointed how much different judges have pandered to Nottingham, at the expense of the defendants.

in 2015 there was already talk amongst lawyers and the judge of a possible dismissal and costs.

At the March 2016 hearing Nottingham was pressed to name additional witnesses. He put forward Slater as an expert witness.

Slater never provided a witness statement as is required. He seemed to want to distance himself from the prosecution – I will give him the benefit of doubt on this, despite Nottingham’s practice in other cases of trying to introduce witnesses and evidence at trial, giving the defences no time to deal with them properly. Again I don’t know if this is incompetence or a tactic.

Then in April 2016 Nottingham had a serious motorcycle accident. He ended up in hospital for a few weeks. He sustained a head injury – not the first. He has also claimed to have had a serious motorcycle accident in I think 1998, also suffering from a head injury with ongoing effects.

Illness has been a prominent factor in a number of Nottingham’s legal proceedings, often resulting in delays and excuses for non-compliance with timetables and legal requirements.

The accident made a very messy prosecution worse, impossible.

Both I and Allied Press filed for dismissal of charges and a hearing was set for late June 2016.

I made a decision to dispense with counsel and represent myself. By now I had learnt a bit about how legal and court processes worked. I considered the case was hopeless, so I was better saving money and trying things on my own.

So I prepared for the dismissal on my own, and filed submissions, as did Allied Press, always on time. Nottingham didn’t. He couldn’t travel to Dunedin so engaged a lawyer to act for him.

The week before the dismissal hearing the APN/Prentice cases went to trial in Auckland. At that Nottingham failed on a fundamental aspect of a suppression breach case – he could not identify the publisher owners. It turned out he had charged the wrong herald company. Slater appeared as a witness and conceded that Prentice was not an identifiable owner of The Standard. So the case was dismissed.

Other allegations, of actually suppression breaches, never got tested at trial, although the trial judge said they were unlikely to have succeeded.

As in my and Allied’s case, Nottingham was claiming that if particular words could be selected out of an article and used in Google searches, and that led the searcher to a particular website, and words were taken from that and googled again and led them to another website, and then other words were used to search that site, and that led to articles that breached suppression, then the publisher of the original article was guilty of breaching suppression.

That on it’s own is nonsensical.

McKinney had tried to show how this could be done. But he already knew what he was looking for. In that case it’s easy to know what words to use in searches to find what you want, and which search results to sue to move on the next search step. Especially when the computer search history knows you already have an interest in the destination website.

The charges claimed about fifteen suppression breaches because that’s how many there were on the destination website. I don’t think there’s any way of proving an average member of then public would end up finding and reading one let alone all fifteen.

What is more preposterous is that Nottingham was claiming that information he supplied to a foreign website revealing the identity of people with New Zealand suppression was fine, but if he picked words out of other people’s articles that he could then use in Google to find his articles then that other person was guilty of a suppression breach.

I arrived at the dismissal hearing in late June, eleven months and the eight hearing after charges were laid, to find out from Nottingham’s lawyer minutes before the hearing was to begin that Nottingham wanted to withdraw the charges.

Leave was put to the judge, and after he clarified that due to time new charges couldn’t be laid the charges were dismissed.

Both Allied and I initiated proceedings to claim for costs.

It is well known that standard costs available in failed prosecutions are ridiculously small. But you can ask for indemnity (actual) costs at the judge’s discretion, if certain criteria are met.

A costs hearing date of September 2016 was suggested and a submission timetable was set. Both Allied and I submitted ion time as usual. Nottingham never served a submission in response.

District courts are under a lot of time pressure. It wasn’t until early March 2017 that we got a hearing set.

Prior to the hearing the court suggested that Nottingham had filed a submission. When we stated that we had not been served the court directed that it be served, and had to repeat the directive when it wasn’t forthcoming.

A few days before the hearing i ended up having to go to court and spend a morning reading their copy. They wouldn’t let me take it away or take a copy of it.

As was typical it was long. It comprised of an attempt to re-litigate his failed prosecution, claiming that we were obviously guilty and but for his accident we would have been convicted, so should be treated as convicted. A withdrawal of charges means that legally we are ‘not guilty’.

And most of it was an affidavit from Nottingham’s brother Phillip. addressed to the World Court, the United Nations and other international legal bodies claiming that it was unfair that Dermot was being prosecuted.

It was a waste of time me reading it, and the only consolation was that it must have been a much bigger waste of time for the Nottingham’s writing it and sending it around the world (if they did that).

Nottingham couldn’t attend the costs hearing. he tried to get yet another delay, but the court insisted that the hearing go ahead.

After the hearing started the court official interrupted the judge and handed him some papers. It was an even later than usual memorandum from Nottingham. Remarkably the judge adjourned the hearing, giving us half an hour to read and work out how to deal with the memorandum.

The hearing resumed, and the judge accepted our suggestion that the memorandum was more ranting nonsense irrelevant to the costs applications.

Then he was interrupted again – another memorandum was hot off the printer. This time the judge refused to accept it.

At the end of March 2016 we got a judgment awarding us costs. The problem was, it was unclear what costs we had been awarded, it didn’t make sense. We had little choice but to go to the High Court with an appeal.

The appeal took place in Dunedin in July 2017. Again Nottingham filed late, but before the hearing this time. he appeared by AV link from Auckland.

Again Nottingham claimed we should be considered guilty because it was obvious he was right and his case was not defendable.

The judge found otherwise and the appeal judgment was in our favour, in that it suggested that as bad faith was involved in the prosecution, and as needless cost had been imposed on both defendants due to the manner in which Nottingham had conducted the prosecution, that something approaching indemnity costs might be appropriate. he sent it back to the District Court judge to set a quantum of costs.

The DC judge decided that he had sufficient information and another hearing wouldn’t be necessary. And in a supplementary judgment in October 2017 he set a quantum of costs at 50% of indemnity costs.

This was a win, although I felt that the judge had not understood the complexities of the attempted prosecution and the hopelessness of the case, nor the vexatiousness of the prosecution. But I would have been happy to leave it at that rather than appeal again. Too much time, money and court resources had already been wasted.

But of course Nottingham appealed, so back to the High Court. He filed late again, despite that sort of abuse of process being a primary reason for having costs awarded against him.

This was a virtual repeat of the first appeal. Nottingham again tried to claim we should be considered guilty, and he claimed that the onus of proof should be on defendants (except \when he is a defendant I presume). And he asked that costs not just be quashed, but reversed and awarded to him.

That’s inane. I could only claim costs billed by my lawyer when I was represented. I could not claim for my own costs, or for lost time or anything. And as far as I know the same applies to Nottingham.

There is no way he could be awarded costs for what I paid my lawyer, which a reversal would presumably mean.

Nottingham lost the second appeal. Judges tend to want good reasons for overturning decisions of other judges. There wasn’t even a legal argument involved, it was a discretionary costs award.

But prior to the appeal Nottingham had already told me he would take it to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court. He made it clear from early on that one of his aims was to inflict as much time and costs on us as he could, And unfortunately the courts kept letting him do exactly that.

So Nottingham went to the Court of Appeal seeking leave to appeal, as you have to do. He was late doing this so it’s out of time, and he also has to seek leave to do that.

This is pending, so as it is before the court I don’t want to say much about it. Submissions from both sides are required next month, with a hearing set down for 27 August – this is in Court of Appeal August fixture list (I am shown as Anor which is incorrect, I should be a separate case to Allied Press.

In the meantime the herald and Prentice have continued too, both having substantial costs awards. Nottingham’s conduct has been slammed – see NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 596 [29 March 2018] and NOTTINGHAM v APN NEWS & MEDIA LTD [2018] NZHC 1004 [9 May 2018]. That is also going to the Court of Appeal.

The defendants in another failed private prosecution have also had large costs awards. A trial was set down for 3 days and it took three weeks, due to Nottingham’s ‘tactics’. Multiple appeals are also on the August fixture list.

A judgment creditor is filing for bankruptcy against Nottingham, who has accumulated about $250,000 in unpaid court costs. That’s ongoing and complicated, has been on the go since last year, and another story, but is partly covered in HONEY & Ors v NOTTINGHAM [2018] NZHC 575 [29 March 2018].

There’s a lot more detail of an around the attempted private prosecution, but that’s of little interest to most people.

This account is also probably too long winded and of little interest generally. So why write it?

If I had known what Nottingham was like in court proceedings three years ago when this began I would have approached it quite differently. at the time I looked and found very little. I think this is in part because he has scared off a lot of people from exposing what he does, because he is so litigious, and because he and his cronies can be very vindictive and abusive.

I suspect that even judges have pussy footed around him and let him away with far to much in part for fear of being featured on that notorious website where some judges haven’t been spared accusations, abuse and possible defamation.

Talking of defamation, there was one attempt that I think is still before the courts: see MALTESE CAT LIMITED v DOE [2017] NZHC 1634 [14 July 2017] and MALTESE CAT LIMITED v JOHN DOE AND/OR JANE DOE [2017] NZHC 1728 [25 July 2017], in which it is alleged that Nottingham used the attack website as part of a paid for campaign in a domestic dispute.

Why was I included in the private prosecutions? That’s probably a story of it’s own, but I can think of a number of possibilities:

  • Slater held a grudge against me because he has a very thin skin when held to account for crap that he does
  • Spring had a grudge against me for stopping him from using Your NZ in continuing attacks that could no longer be run on Whale Oil
  • LF had a grudge against me – they had reacted negatively when I confronted them on Twitter for making a baseless accuation
  • A post of Nottingham’s charge appeared on Your NZ and he connected that with a police/court/Herald conspiracy

I think that Nottingham et al saw me as an easy target. They tried to pressure and threaten me into pleading guilty to make it easier for them to succeed in the prosecutions of the Herald and Prentice.

And when I stood up to them and refused to buckle they did what they have done with others, they got very nasty, seeking vindictive retribution. This seems to be a common thing with them.

Slater had already found that the legal going can get tough, and seems to have distanced himself a bit, although he was still using Nottingham in legal proceedings a year ago – see BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2017] NZHC 1654 [18 July 2017]

With the conviction and sentencing, and also the bankruptcy proceedings, things finally look to be turning to custard for Nottingham, and it’s not over yet.

And I suspect that things haven’t turned out that well for his brothers or McKinney or Spring either, on top of the self trashing of any reputations they may have had.

Of course there’s a risk I may become a target of their wrath by posting this. But I think public interest – especially of anyone else who becomes a target – is important here.

 

 

Vendettas and death notices

Cameron Slater has claimed he has had death threats as a result of the news onslaught yesterday.

I hope Judge McIlraith is watching the comments, the death threats have started. He didn’t think this was such a problem.

 

original

While it could be perceived as a threat of violence it doesn’t go as far as being a death threat, but is nasty it is unfortunately not uncommon talk online.

Something that was apparent yesterday was Slater’s continued association with Lauda Finem.

Two days ago LF posted an attack on  Ben Rachinger and others, and blatantly included information subject to court ordered suppression, and some of that suppression is still in force. There are not many possible sources for the judgment they published in full (actually it was a first version of the judgment that was corrected).

Then remarkably early yesterday LF published a media statement from Slater that also breached suppression. That seems certain to have been sourced from Slater.

After several hours it was taken down, in itself remarkable as the previous day LF refused to amend a false claim they made about Bradley Ambrose. This suggests preferential treatment for Slater at LF.

Then this exchange appeared on Twitter:

LFSpringTwitter

Spring coughing over vendettas alongside tweets involving Slater and LF is more than a little ironic.

Talking of vendettas this comment appeared on LF about the same time as the Slater statement appeared (overnight Monday):

DeathNoticeRedacted

Redacted comments breach the law and make false claims.

I don’t think that was Slater, but that’s the sort of people and website he associates and utilises. And that’s a more serious implication of a death threat than what he complained about.

I condemn any threats, implied or otherwise, of violence or death, including against Slater.

I wonder if Slater would likewise openly condemn the threat aimed at me, and ask his friends to take down this threat like his statement was taken down.

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.

The Marc Spring story

I think it’s worth recapping the Marc Spring story as it relates to myself and to Your NZ. Readers here have a right to know what has happened, and it is in the wider public interest to reveal what Spring and associates have done and continue to do, because I’m not the only one who they have chosen to, in Spring’s words, “fuck over”.

This fucking over is fairly serious stuff, involving many multiple identities and online outlets used to abuse, defame, entrap, intimidate and threaten, and involving the misuse of the legal system and threats to the extent of trying to gag and shut down Your NZ and get me in prison ‘by Christmas’.

Spring is the main focus here but associated with him and the ‘fucking over’ have been Dermot Nottingham, Cameron Slater and Lauda Finem. Slater is well known for ‘Dirty Politics’ and his bully boy blogging at Whale Oil, but is probably a junior partner in this.

Why have I been dragged in to what is a much bigger story that goes back fifteen years?

Probably because I decided to stop them using Your NZ to attack and defame Matthew Blomfield, despite court undertakings and restraining orders that were supposed to stop them doing it.

In part they are vindictive, malicious people who seem to play ‘fucking over’ as a game.

In part for reasons that I can’t currently disclose, because despite brazen breaches of court orders they have managed to also use the courts to put gags on some exposure of their activities.

In part because I think they saw me as a quick and easy target in an ongoing online rampage. They don’t seem to have expected me to stand up against them and expose them, and they have gone to desperate measures to try and shut me up, including attempts at entrapment and making false claims to courts.

Prior to 2015 I had barely heard of Spring or Nottingham and knew little about Lauda Finem.

But there had been a feud going on for years between Spring and Slater and Lauda Finem (with various interconnections) versus Matthew Blomfield (I knew little of him before this either). Both Blomfield and Spring had been associated with Hell Pizza and there was a falling out between Blomfield and others at Hell.

A hard drive containing ten years of Blomfield’s business and personal data including very personal family photos was given to Slater (and the contents probably made available to others). Slater posted a number of attacks on Blomfield at Whale Oil.

Blomfield filed for defamation against Slater. The defamation case is still dragging on, but during it’s protracted course Slater gave an undertaking that he wouldn’t attack Blomfield on Whale Oil.

So last year Spring started to use Your NZ to continue the feud against Blomfield, using a number of pseudonyms (something he has done elsewhere) to make it appear as if others supported his claims. One other person that I’m aware of joined the attacks, Dave G. Just about everyone else doing it were identities used by Spring.

Blomfield contacted me claiming comments on Your NZ were unfair and defamatory. I agreed on some and deleted them. I disagreed on others and left them. Blomfield accepted my decisions. I did all of this openly, and I gave Blomfield a right of response.

The attacks against Blomfield on Your NZ continued by Spring and Dave G. I was later to find out that this was despite the courts giving Blomfield a restraining order against Spring in April 2015.

I have evidence of all of this that shows Spring using multiple identities from multiple locations, including from his workplace.

In July things changed quite dramatically.

Lauda Finem posted their first of what has been a number of posts that include attacks, defamation and false accusations against me. My photo was included in a ‘dirty dozen’ of journalists and bloggers – you have to laugh at some of the ironies in all of this. Lauda Finem, Spring and some others are the dirtiest I have encountered online.

I have been implicated in a cacophony of conspiracy claims that get more bizarre with each post. That’s another story that is quite hilarious. They call themselves justice campaigners and investigators. They deserve a top Tui award.

In July Spring was involved in serving me with legal papers for Nottingham. Slater also played a part in this but it can’t be disclosed at this stage.

Lauda Finem put up more posts attacking myself and Blomfield, separately and combined. While they use skerricks of truth they fabricate many of their claims – I don’t know if they are deliberate lies or if they believe their fantasies, I suspect a mixture of both.

And at the same time as the legal action was initiated and Lauda Finem started to post on it @LaudaFinem and @Marc Spring started to attack and harass me on Twitter with false claims, insinuations and abuse.

This tag team has continued off and on until the present. Last night @LaudaFinem repeated a “boozy” claim and added a new one – “likely using prescription med’s for the psych problems”. That’s fairly typical concocted false accusations that look like transference, they often accuse others of what they do.

Interestingly the only other person to suggest that I have psych problems is Dermot Nottingham via email.

I’ve received a number of emails from different people but mostly from a common source threatening a range of things. In addition there have been attempts to entrap me via email and phone (text). There’s some very stupid stuff. That’s for another time.

From July there was an ongoing campaign waged against me by Lauda Finem posts and  the @LaudaFinem and @marcspring tag team on Twitter.

There was also an onslaught of attacks on Your NZ by people using multiple IDs, including Spring and Nottingham and one or two others. There seems to have been two aims – to try to train wreck comments threads, and to entrap.

They were trying to show that a lack of moderation was a problem by causing problems. This was extreme at times.

It escalated in October when Spring planted comments (from his workplace) that he was later to try and use in an attempted legal action aimed at shutting down Your NZ.

At the same time a Spring pseudonym also linked to a new Lauda Finem post that was an insidious attack on someone just because they happened to be a commenter at Your NZ – Mike C, although an ongoing feud between Mike C and Whale Oil may also have been a factor. This included photos and insinuations about family members.

An attack on Alan Wilkinson was also posted at Lauda Finem, I presume because he pointed out how stupid they were. They have a history of reacting badly to having their stupidity pointed out.

In November Spring launched a legal attack. Slater and Nottingham were associated with this. It highlighted their legal incompetence and also the lengths they were prepared to go to to shut up and shut down any critics.

Spring posted a notice of a court order on Your NZ under the Harmful Digital Communication Act (HDCA) via a “press release” (which showed Nottingham as author) just after 5 pm on a Friday. It was a litany of lies and errors.

They had managed to con the court into ordering I remove all references to Spring on Your NZ, and that I put in place a system of full time moderation.

It wasn’t just me they wanted to gag, it was all of New Zealand according to the press release:

“The statutorily enforced moderation of blog site comments should be made law in an immediate amendment to the HDCA, with the addition that the website owner is liable for any comments that are posted after moderation. If these additions were to become law, the significant expense to date will have been worth it” said Mr Spring.

Were they serious? Of course their intention was for this to apply to other blogs, not their own. David Farrar says that it would mean he would have to shut down Kiwiblog. All the other blogs like Whale Oil and The Standard effectively couldn’t operate. And it couldn’t be limited to ‘blogs’ when most of the online comments are on Facebook, on Twitter, on Reddit, on the Trademe message boards etc etc.

A major way in which the internet operates is unlikely to be changed so a few nincompoops can impose mass gagging to avoid a bit of exposure while their own blogs continue with impunity.

There were a number of problems with the court order, including.

  • I wasn’t notified correctly
  • I wasn’t advised as I should have been prior to the order being made
  • The HDCA has no provision for gagging a website
  • Procedures required by the HDCA weren’t followed
  • The part of the HDCA being used doesn’t come into effect until 2017.

A few days later the judge discharged the order – see Court order discharged – because it had been made “without jurisdiction”.

I presume the judge and the court were embarrassed by being sucked in by legal incompetents. They wouldn’t let me view the files (that Spring had failed to provide as required).

Lawyers said that if a lawyer had submitted such a flawed action to the court they would have been in serious trouble.

But it didn’t end there. Spring and others threatened further legal actions along the lines of “Mr Spring is unsure whether Mr George could operate his blog from a prison cell” (from the press release).

Quite a bit more was attempted that I can’t currently reveal.

The posts at Lauda Finem kept appearing with ever more bizarre claims. Everyone in New Zealand who shares my surname could be insinuated – some actually have been.

More attempts have been made to plant ‘evidence’ and induce me into doing things that could be then potentially legally actionable.

The @laudafinem/@marcspring tag team continues.

The bursts of attention they give me are signs of other things happening. Pressure is mounting on them as their behaviours start to catch up on them. They keep digging deeper holes, and with no way out they lash out. I just happen to be one of their targets.

A beige tumble weed target they probably didn’t think would stand up to them and fight back.

They hate light being shone on what they have been doing for years – trying to fuck people over. But they are making more mistakes, and doing stupider things. I think there’s a lot of people who are waiting for them to get what they deserve. It could take a bit of time yet but trash generally ends up in the dump.

Note that there are probably complex associations between various people involved. For me it’s immaterial who owns what and directly or indirectly does what. All I am reporting on are some links, and behaviours in common.

If commenting please be careful and legal. I will remove anything I think could be a risk.

Farrar only blames the judge

David Farrar has posted at Kiwiblog again on the court order that disrupted this site a couple of weekends ago – Judge got it wrong on HDCA.

Amazingly the Judge did not realise the provisions of the Harmful Digital Communications Act which he relied on, were not to come into force for a couple of years.

I’m shocked a Judge would make such a wide ranging order, and not even have properly read the Act to realise most of it was not in force yet.

Comments on that post show that while the judge was ultimately responsible and allowed a mistake to go through he rectified it as soon as he  was aware of the problem.

Comments also do what Farrar didn’t, they pointed out the incompetence (at best) of person or persons involved in the court order, Marc Spring by the look of things with the assistance of Dermot Nottingham.

Here’s some of the comments, by people with obvious legal backgrounds.

In the Hager decision, the High Court made it plain that all relevant information, both factual and legal should be placed before a Judge who is considering an application made without notice to the other side.

A number of things should have been made clear to the Judge by the applicant. First, the Act under which the order was obtained was not yet in force. Second, the order requiring YourNZ to appoint a moderator was not available under the Act in any event. Third, there was no reason why George should not have been served with the application and given the opportunity to be heard. Presumably none of this was advised to the Judge. 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.

It is also a worry that a Judge, faced with a lay litigant invoking novel powers to abrogate the right to freedom of speech, should grant such an order without checking that he was able to do what he was being asked.

That is a worry.

The District Court Judge, Gary Harrison, is well respected by his colleagues and has a solid pedigree in law dating all the way back to being Justice Mahons assistant in the Erebus Inquiry. Clearly he had a bad day and dropped the ball but it is to his credit to have acted quickly to withdraw his decision when he realised the facts and law, as presented, were quite wrong.

Sounds fair.

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. This is even more so in an ex-parte application (where the judge makes a decision without hearing from the other party because of urgency etc). In such a case the person seeking the application is obliged to put all relevant stuff before the judge, not just the stuff that aids the application.

Litigants do not like the other party spouting off publically about matters before the court and judges tend to side with this. I possibly see the original judge’s ruling as being to in aid of stopping public disclosure of matters concerning the case. This could also explain why the judge is reluctant to release the papers concerning this to the other party. Perhaps the judge is being excessively sensitive about this or may have real concerns.

Except that in this case it was the litigants who spouted off publicly about matters they had put before the court.

I assumed that the order was applied for by a litigant in person. If it was a lawyer who made the application it is serious misconduct. The Judge in making any order under that Act is supposed to give a written decision; it would have been interesting to see that but I suppose that as the Act was not even in force, there is no need for the Judge to comply with it.

There’s been no indication a lawyer was involved. Why wouldn’t it  still be serious misconduct for a lay litigant?

Well, either that or apparent negligence (if we are going to be slightly charitable about it).  If there was a lawyer on either side then the judge should have been told.  If there were no lawyers involved then we get to whether the judge checked that the legislation was in force!

And:

Making an application for an order that is unavailable under an act that is not in force without notice to the other side when that person is readily available and there is no apparent serious risk of harm? 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.

And:

Making an application for an order that is unavailable under an act that is not in force without notice to the other side when that person is readily available and there is no apparent serious risk of harm? 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

And:

Yup, it is up there.

However, I think he will realise that and he will be kicking himself.

In his defence he might have relied on the supporting memorandum from the applicant and decided not to go behind it to check his jurisdiction under the enabling act.

And:

I had assumed that the person was represented and that it was a High Court proceeding. A High Court judge would have a ‘clerk’ (generally a junior lawyer) to check out these things. A District Court judge may not have had such assistance and so bears the onus of having to verify things but in practice often has to rely on memory or instinct or he/she would not get anything done.. A District Court judge would not have the time to reflect on things that a High Court judge would.

It was District Court.

Interesting comments.

Ultimately it was the judge’s responsibility as he signed the court order. But the appalling stuff ups,  either through incompetence or a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice, seem to have been due to the actions of non-lawyers. One way or another they seem to have tried to con the court.

I don’t know why David Farrar only blamed the judge.

Court order discharged

The court order Spring versus George was discharged today by Judge Harrison.

CourtOrderDischarged

Obviously that’s great news.

I have removed the auto moderation except for first comments by new people.

The original order that caused a lot of consternation around the blogosphere and lawosphere.

CourtOrderSpringvGeorge

UPDATE: Lynn Prentice has covered this in detail at The Standard:

Judge scammed by a legal idiot and his pet pest