Blomfield v Slater trial date set

A defamation proceeding brought by Matthew Blomfield against Cameron Slater that was started in the District Court in 2012 will finally go to trial in the High Court in October. It will be judge only (no jury), and is expected to run for four weeks or six weeks (two recent judgments give different durations).

Blomfield claims he was defamed in a series of thirteen posts at Whale Oil, while Slater claims that taken in context the posts were not defamatory, and also that the posts expressed truth and honest opinion.

The publications

[6] Each of the blogs was published between 3 May and 6 June 2012. They occurred after Mr Slater came into possession of a hard drive containing emails sent to or by Mr Blomfield. Other material was also stored on the hard drive, including photographs of Mr Blomfield’s family.

This is rather ironic given the complaints Slater has made about Nicky Hager obtaining material that was hacked from Whale Oil and Slater. I don’t know whether it has been established that the hard drive was obtained illegally or not.

[7] There is no dispute for present purposes that Mr Slater caused the blogs to be published on the Whaleoil website notwithstanding the fact that the website is apparently operated by the second defendant, Social Media Consultants Limited. There can also be no dispute that the blogs related to Mr Blomfield because he was named in each. Each of the blogs also contains material that is arguably defamatory of Mr Blomfield.

In late 2017 Blomfield made a successful application joining a second defendant Social Media Consultants Limited as a party to the proceeding. This was done after Slater pointed out that the publications forming the basis of the defamation claims
are posted on a website operated by that company.  Shareholders and directors of the company are Cameron Slater and Juana Atkins.

This information and an outline of the defamation claims are detailed in two judgments available at Judicial Decisions Online:

These two judgments cover interlocutory issues and an on application by Blomfield for summary judgment and/or strike out.

They show that Slater has incurred more costs awards against him, and an application by Slater that security of costs be paid by Blomfield was declined because Slater is acting for himself so won’t be able to claim costs, unless he engages a lawyer for the trial.

Some of the arguments are related to the inability of Slater to provide emails as a part of the discovery process because they were deleted in the wake of ‘Dirty Politics’.

The judge notes that some comments in the posts “are clearly defamatory” but that Slater can argue truth and honest opinion.

[42] Despite the relatively extreme nature of Mr Slater’s assertions, and the sketchy particulars provided in support of the defences of truth and honest opinion, I am not prepared to enter summary judgment in respect of this publication. Sufficient particulars have been provided to enable Mr Slater to advance the defences at trial. He will obviously need to re-formulate his particulars so that they provide sufficient detail to enable Mr Blomfield to respond to them.

Most applications by both Blomfield and Slater were declined in the judgments. The need to finally get the proceeding to trial with no further delays was an overriding factor in some of the decisions.

This looks like a complex case. I have no idea of strength of the complaints or the defences. That will be for a judge to decide when it goes to a four or six week trial in October.

In other defamation proceedings, Slater is still waiting for a judgment in defamation claims and counter claims versus Colin Craig after a trial that concluded in June last year – see Craig v Slater – reserved decision.

Slater is involved in another defamation case started against him (and others) in August 2016, related to another series of posts at Whale Oil. This is summarised in SELLMAN & ORS v SLATER & ORS [2017] NZHC 2392 [2 October 2017]:

Summary

[1] Dr Doug Sellman, Dr Boyd Swinburn and Mr Shane Bradbrook are public health professionals. They allege they have been defamed in a series of blog posts by Mr Cameron Slater and comments on the posts by Mr Carrick Graham. They sue Mr Slater, Mr Graham and Mr Graham’s company Facilitate Communications Ltd (FCL). They also sue Ms Katherine Rich and the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council Inc (NZFGC) for allegedly procuring Mr Slater, Mr Graham and FCL to publish the substance and sting of the alleged defamations.

Both this proceeding and Blomfield’s allege that Slater (or Social media Consultants) was paid to do attack posts on Whale Oil. This was also alleged in Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’.

One thing is clear – defamation proceedings can be complex, time consuming and very expensive.

Slater drops appeal on source protection

Cameron Slater has given up on an appeal in a defamation action taken against him by Matthew Blomfield involving posts Slater made on Whale Oil in 2012 that Blomfield claims are defamatory.

In the High Court in 2014 J Asher ruled that Slater acted as a journalist but his sources were not protected by journalist privilege because…

…the posts were about a private dispute, they contained “extreme and vitriolic statements,” they “bore the hallmarks of a private feud”, and the source material seemed to have been obtained illegally. It was not a whistleblower case. (Price)

However Slater appealed this judgment.

Yesterday on The Daily Blog: Cameron Slater halts appeal in long running defamation case

SlaterAppealHalted

Blomfield wanted Slater to reveal the source of information supplied to him about Blomfield (I think largely via a hard drive containing extensive business and personal data of Blomfield’s).

A copy of Asher’s judgment is here: Slater V Blomfield 2014 NZHC 2221

This is explained well by Stephen price at Media Law Journal in The blogger and the journalist.

But Mr Slater has also been making life busy for the courts. In recent months, he has been at the forefront of two significant High Court cases. In the first, he argued that he was a journalist, and should not be required to turn over his sources in a defamation suit against him.

He was found to be a journalist, but the court ordered him to disclose his sources anyway.

The Evidence Act allows journalists to protect the identity of their sources, if they have promised them confidentiality. But it also allows judges to override that promise and compel them to disclose their sources. A judge has to decide whether the public interest in knowing the source’s identity outweighs the harm to the source together with the public interest in the flow of information from confidential sources.

Is a blog a news medium? Is a blogger a journalist? Are they sometimes? If so, when? The District Court judge had held, rather peremptorily, that Mr Slater’s blog was not disseminating news, and that was the end of the story.

In the High Court, Asher J disagreed. In a lengthy and thoughtful judgment, he accepted that Mr Slater qualified as a journalist at the relevant time.

Mr Slater spent a lot of his life blogging. He frequently received information from sources, promising confidentiality. He broke news stories. He published opinions on news.

In this context, the judge said, purveying “news” means “providing new information to the public about recent events of interest to the public… on a regular basis… for the purpose of disseminating news”. Making a profit isn’t necessary. No particular format is required. The journalist doesn’t need to be subject to an ethics complaints system. A style of journalism that may be dramatic or abusive or hyperbolic doesn’t disqualify a journalist either.

A pattern of consistent inaccuracy or deceit may mean that a blogger is not a journalist, but there was no evidence of that before the judge.

The judge then went on to order Mr Slater to reveal his sources anyway. He explained that the identity of the sources may be crucial to evaluating pleaded defences of truth and honest opinion. What was there in the balance favouring source protection? Almost nothing. The posts were about a private dispute, they contained “extreme and vitriolic statements,” they “bore the hallmarks of a private feud”, and the source material seemed to have been obtained illegally. It was not a whistleblower case.

Ironically, Mr Slater’s “news” site reported only that he had been declared by the High Court to be a journalist. It didn’t see fit to mention the rest of the judgment. All in all, though, Asher J’s decision seems right on target, and gives very helpful guidance in a difficult and fast evolving area of law.

Slater appealed this decision, but this notice advising the court that Slater does not intend to ‘further prosecute his appeal’ indicates that despite what some have claimed, it was Slater who had been delaying the defamation proceedings.

I presume this means he will now be required to reveal his source or sources.

Perhaps Slater realised or was advised that the appeal was unlikely to succeed.

Perhaps Slater has just given up trying to protect those sources.

Perhaps he now just wants to get all his legal hassles over and done with. He has indicated recently he has been worn down by all the actions he has become embroiled with.

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.

Slater’s response to Court of Appeal judgment

Cameron Slater has responded to Thursday’s Court of Appeal judgment on ongoing proceedings in Matthew Blomfield’s defamation case against Slater.

It’s notable that this wasn’t in a post, it was in the General Debate thread:

Just for the record people. There are two news stories and some excited tumbleweed blogs who think that I lost an appeal yesterday.

I didn’t.

I made an application to Court of Appeal to introduce new evidence that has come to light.

Unfortunately the Court of Appeal declined to allow me to introduce the new evidence. It seems it doesn’t matter to them that the High Court was misled or witnesses are being intimidated. Just another challenge and hurdle for me to overcome.

The Appeal is still live before the Court of Appeal and sometime next year it will be heard. Don’t believe everything you read in news reports or on tumbleweed blogs.

That is like if England had claimed they didn’t win this year’s world cup (and had also been beaten by Fiji and Uruguay).

The Court of Appeal ruled that the evidence was either not new, not shown to be new by Slater, or could have been obtained in time for the High Court Trial so was deemed not new.

Tumbleweeds are survivors in harsh conditions.

Greg M responded to Slater’s comment:

Saw that, unbelievable. The next time the IPCA comes out with a finding does this mean we can now all ignore it as “hearsay” ? 
The only good thing to come out of it is that now you know how ridiculously high the hurdles has been set.

Cam Slater:

Yeah astonishing…an IPCA report, and Police records are now hearsay.

On the hearsay from the IPCA report and Police records:

[26] Next, Mr Slater referred to intimidatory acts against Mr Price. He alleges at para 14 of his affidavit that he holds “contemporaneous emails” (unspecified as to date) relating that Mr Price was threatened with being “done over” by Mr Blomfield’s “gang associates”. He refers to Mr Price stating that he believes that Mr Blomfield is a psychopath, and also asserts that Mr Price related to another person that he (Mr Price) had been unlawfully detained and then assaulted by Mr Blomfield. These allegations are backed up by a police report mentioning that Mr Blomfield had coerced Mr Price into swearing an affidavit by “threats of being sued for defamation”. This evidence is all hearsay, and inadmissible.

If the Police report quoted something someone had said then I presume that’s hearsay.

[38] Mr Slater now seeks to adduce evidence in the form of police reports showing that the question of whether the information had been stolen has been investigated by the police who have reached the view that there was insufficient evidence of criminal conduct “on the part of the appellant or any source or alleged source”. The reports attached to Mr Slater’s affidavit have dates between January and May 2013. Mr Slater has made no attempt to explain why he could not have obtained this information earlier and in time to adduce it at the trial. He would have been aware from the statement of claim that Mr Blomfield complained that the material was taken from him unlawfully, and asserted that it contained a large number of “copyrighted, privileged and confidential items belonging to the plaintiff, his clients and his family”. The evidence on which he now seeks to rely could have been called in the High Court, but Mr Slater chose not to do so. It is not fresh.

[39] The material is in any event hearsay and inadmissible for that reason. The same applies in relation to a letter of the Independent Police Conduct Authority dated 13 June 2014. Mr Slater seeks to rely on that letter for its statement that the police investigation had found the missing hard drive “to have never been stolen”. He says that he endeavoured to produce the letter in the High Court “from the bar” but it was successfully opposed. Again, it is a hearsay statement which ought not to be admitted at this point.

Can anyone with legal and court knowledge explain whether the police reports and IPCA letter are correctly classified as hearsay by the Court of Appeal judges?

The full judgment:

UPDATE: Hearsay evidence

An important part of our legal system is that any witnesses (with some defined exceptions, notasbly that the witness is now dead) giving evidence should present it in court so they are able to be cross examined.

Hearsay evidence is covered by sections 16-22 of the Evidence Act 2006. Pursuant to s 4(1) of the Act, a hearsay statement is a statement made by someone other than a witness (in the proceedings) that is offered to prove the truth of its contents. Under section 17 of this Act a hearsay statement is generally not admissible in any court proceeding. Though section 18 states when a hearsay statement may be able to be given in court. This is when the statement is reliable, the statement maker is unavailable to be called as a witness or it would provide undue expense and delay if that person was required to be a witness. There are also a number of specific exceptions such as statements in business records. Other exceptions include state of mind evidence (see R v Blastland) and whether the statement is tendered to prove the fact it was uttered or made, rather than to prove the truth of its contents (see DPP v Subramaniam).

It is covered in the Evidence Act 2006:

Part 2
Admissibility rules, privilege, and confidentiality

Subpart 1Hearsay evidence

Slater and his legal advisers might benefit from reading and understanding that (I have and will).

Court of Appeal: the Slater A = Z strategy

Yesterday a Court of Appeal judgment released regarding Cameron Slater versus Matthew Blomfield made several rulings against Slater.

It suggests that Slater’s legal abilities seem to be on a par with his boxing abilities – he has talked himself up but looks totally out of his depth.

SlaterBoxingFloored

One of  the judgments illustrates the Slater A = Z strategy, where evidence supplied suggests one thing but Slater claims the opposite.

Dermot Nottingham, an ‘associate’ of Slater on Blomfield’s defamation action against him, secretly recorded a phone conversation between a Mr Mattu and Blomfield.

In the conversation Blomfield tells Mr Mattu he wishes him well and doesn’t want to be mean to him, and wants to stay as far away from Mr Mattu and those he was association with. Slater claimed in the Court of appeal that this amounted to threats.

[32] Mr Mattu also gives evidence in the second affidavit that Mr Blomfield had threatened him over the phone, in person and in front of Mr Hare, and told him that “his brothers are connected to the gangs”. Later in the affidavit, he refers to his relationship with Mr Slater, recording his understanding that Mr Slater and his team are gathering evidence to bring Mr Blomfield, Mr Hare, Mr Johnson and Mr Sherriff to justice. Mr Mattu says he is “doing the same”.

[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. This time, the conversation lasted a little under four minutes.

[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 the phone discussions which were of most concern. Mr Slater referred to the following passages attributed to Mr Blomfield:

(a) Your affidavit wasn’t even written by you Shiv. I, the affidavit … I’ve matched it up with the previous stuff that [Mr Slater] and [Mr Nottingham] have written. Those guys wrote this affidavit for you, and what’s going to happen when you have to stand up in Court, and the first question the lawyer’s going to ask you when they cross-examine you is “Who wrote this affidavit?”

(b) But what you’ve gone and done with these boys, and getting involved with them, I wanted to ring you and make it clear to you that I have no issue with you, and I wish you all the best, and I’m sorry for what happened. But I’m not going to talk to you again, and I’m not going to have anything to do with any of this, for as long as I possibly can. If I’m forced to be involved, I’ll be involved, but I want to stay right away from this, the people you’re involved with, everything to do with it. I’m going to stay as far away as …

(c) As far as I’m concerned, you’ve gone and partnered up with the devil, and you’re asking me … I want to stay as far away from you and these people as possible. All I wanted to do was make it clear to you that I am not going to do anything mean to you. I feel sorry for you for what’s happened, and I’m sorry that things haven’t turned out.

It’s worth repeating that this was presented  as evidence of most concern,  the Court “asked Mr Slater to identify the parts of the transcripts of the phone discussions which were of most concern”.

[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 Mattu not to stand by his affidavit. We are not prepared to draw those inferences. As Mr Miles QC pointed out, Mr Mattu’s claims of intimidation have not prevented him from swearing detailed and damaging affidavits, including a claim that Mr Blomfield, together with Messrs Hare, Johnson and Sherriff are “members of an organised and sophisticated criminal gang”. Mr Mattu has also provided details of his address and place of work in the affidavits. It seems that, even if he is concerned, Mr Mattu has not been deterred from making serious allegations against Mr Blomfield by anything Mr Blomfield has said or done.

[36] We do not consider any of this evidence cogent in relation to the relevant findings made by Asher J.

The presiding Judge in this Court asked Mr Slater to identify the parts of the transcripts of the phone discussions which were of most concern

A dictionary definition of cogent: convincing or believable by virtue of forcible, clear, or incisive presentation; telling. 2. to the point; relevant; pertinent.

Another related practice is to make claims withoput providing supporting evidence:

[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…

Accusations without evidence. Accusations with evidence that suggests the opposite.

And I don’t think this is uncommon from Slater and his associates. I’ve seen other examples, for example Lauda Finem posts are riddled with accusations without evidence. There’s been examples in comment threads here on Your NZ. I have also seen examples in emails involving associates of Slater. And in other court documents, which other judges have stated as being mostly inadmissible evidence.

The above examples are as presented by Slater to the Court of Appeal.

One could wonder whether Slater uses the same level of backing claims and accusations that he makes outside a court of law, for example in Whale Oil posts.

Readers can make their own judgment on that.

And you can read the full judgment for yourself:

I should point out here that over the last year or so a number of claims have been made about Matthew Blomfield on Your NZ, not dissimilar to what has been raised in this Court of Appeal judgment.

I believe that some people have genuinely believed what they have stated, because they have believed claims posted and made by Slater,  [Deleted as per court order] and associates.

Others have been trying to disseminate A = Z type claims in what has appeared to be a malicious manner, mostly [Deleted as per court order] (please don’t assume that of everyone who has attacked Blomfield).

The number of people believing Slater, [Deleted as per court order] and associates should be dwindling after judgments like this one made by the court of appeal.

Sorry Slater supporters, he has duped a lot of people into believing him, including John Key, but the more sunlight, the more we can see the reality. And I believe the unraveling is far from over.

Slater loses in Court of Appeal

Cameron Slater has failed in a Court of Appeal bid to overturn a High Court ruling that he didn’t have journalist protection from revealing his sources.

NZ Herald reports: Slater’s ‘journalist’ protection fails

An attempt by the blogger Cameron Slater to use a journalist’s legal protection for sources has failed.

The case came after the High Court told the Whaleoil blogger he qualified as a “journalist” but couldn’t hide sources for a series of blog posts about a businessman using a journalist’s legal protection because of the nature of the posts.

The case involves defamation proceedings taken by business Matthew Blomfield over blog posts made by Slater in 2012. High Court Justice Raynor Asher had ruled there was a “public interest” in the sources being identified as there was no public interest in coverage of Blomfield’s affairs and because of the “extreme and vindictive” nature of the disclosures. He also found the claim for journalistic source protection weakened because “the documents disclosed by the sources appeared to have been obtained illegitimately”.

The Court of Appeal has now rejected arguments by Slater that new evidence should overturn Justice Asher’s ruling and allow him to engage source protection rules for journalists in the Evidence Act.

Fail #1

While some of Slater’s new evidence was ruled out as hearsay…

Sounds familiar.

…the judges heard other evidence including that of a phone call made to Blomfield by a former business association who was now known to Slater.

A transcript of the phonecall had been produced by Slater, saying it showed “veiled threats” from Blomfield. When the appeal judges asked for examples, Slater selected a sample including one comment in which Blomfield was quoted saying: “All I wanted to do was make it clear to you that I am not going to do anything mean to you.” The Court of Appeal judges said they did not believe the comments were threatening.

Fail #2

This also sounds familiar, claiming the opposite of what was said.

The judgment revealed the phone conversation had been made by Blomfield’s former business colleague to Blomfield, and recorded without his knowledge by self-styled justice campaigner Dermot Nottingham, an “associate” of Slater.

I wonder what sort of  ‘associate’.

The judges also dismissed Slater’s claim Blomfield had acted in an intimidating way against one of those believed to have supplied information for the blog posts. The judgment said Blomfield had successfully sought the restraining order against a businessman  over a series of “aggressive and abusive” text messages he had been sent.

Fail #3

Claiming he “had acted in an intimidating way” but the opposite being found to have occurred also sounds familiar.

Slater said Blomfield seeking a restraining order on text messages which pre-dated Justice Asher’s decision was contrary to an assurance Blomfield had given saying “no witness was at risk”. The appeal judges dismissed the claim as unconvincing.

Fail #4

On the issue of the hard drive, Slater had attempted to put into evidence a letter from the Independent Police Conduct Authority which stated the hard drive had been found “to have never been stolen” The judges ruled it as inadmissible hearsay.

Fail#5

Slater was ordered to pay Blomfield costs.

Expect another begging post at Whale Oil? That would be contrary to a claim by Slater in another recent ruling detailed here where a judge said:

[49] I have no affidavit evidence of Mr Slater’s personal circumstances. The tenor of Mr Blomfield’s submissions is that he has backers and has access to funds. Mr Slater claimed that he had no backers and was self funded.

That’s a bit awkward.

Slater should consider getting better legal advice.

UPDATE: the judgement is now included underneath the Herald article
Slater’s ‘journalist’ protection fails

UPDATE 2: The judgment has now been posted:

Blomfield rumours

There was a timely resurfacing of rumours about Matthew Blomfield yesterday in Lauda Finem death threat? Blomfield has  been the subject of a number of claims and rumours here over the past year or so.

Timely because I have investigating some of these claims, and I have asked Blomfield about them. I don’t know Blomfield personally and have never met him, but this was made a personal issue for me when in July Lauda Finem claimed I was one of “particularly dirty dozen – just a few of Blomfield’s known bent Kiwi media mates, MSM, Bloggers and their industry associates.”

They have made other absurd claims about me that have more than minor hints of delusion and maliciousness.

Lauda Finem have been strong critics of Blomfield. Their posts do contain some facts, but they are so peppered with claims that have obviously been made up it’s unwise to take anything they claim seriously. And if challenged or criticised they have a habit of ignoring the issues raised and resorting to personal attacks.

Cameron Slater and Whale Oil have in the past also been strong critics of Blomfield and have made many accusations. Blomfield has taken defamation action against Slater and through a resulting court agreement Whale Oil has been cleansed of Blomfield attacks and Slater has made an undertaking to not perpetuate any attacks.

If you want some background on this see http://www.thepaepae.com/wp-uploads/2014/09/CIV-2013-404-005218.pdf

Lauda Finem and Whale Oil attacks on Blomfield have had similarities and I don’t think either are credible overall. I haven’t seem them supported by many unembellished facts.

And both have records of promising revelations that back up their claims on a range of issues. And promising. And nothing significant eventuates.

As stated earlier Blomfield has received some attention here. Yesterday DaveG said:

It’s my belief in the long haul Slater and LF will be proven correct over Blomfield, I have met the man, and many people said the same thing, they were correct.

But I haven’t seen much of this proof. And I also question “many people said the same thing”. For example on Your NZ it may have appeared that quite a few people have said the same thing but the fact is that most “people” here criticising Blomfield has been just one person using different pseudonyms. He has at times  appeared to have conversations with himself, supporting his own assertions.

I believe that this same person has used multiple identities on other forums as well.

“Many people” may be a deliberate illusion.

Note that DaveG does appear to me to be a separate person. He may have been swayed by the appearance of many opinions that are in fact misleading.

So what are the claims against Blomfield? DaveG said:

“MB hasn’t” not that you know of, the dark side operate in mysterious ways. My belief is there is enough corporate evidence and skeletons to tell a very damning story.

Belief isn’t facts. It’s known that Blomfield has had a business failure and was bankrupted.

I’ve seen claims of dodgy business dealings. I asked Blomfield if there is currently any legal action or investigation against him. He said there isn’t.

One of the things at the centre of issues involving Blomfield and Slater is a hard drive that contains extensive communication and business data of Blomfields.

Blomfield has shown me a court memorandum that shows that an investigation of this hard drive was carried out involving the Official Assignee and the Serious Fraud Office. These investigations were a result of complaints made by Cameron Slater.

This memorandum cites a statement that makes it clear that no illegal activity was discovered from the hard drive investigation.

If anyone can provide evidence to the contrary, and if anyone can provide evidence of any subsequent or current legal or Government department investigation into Blomfield then please do so.

DaveG said:

Google MB’s name and the response details many deals, I couldn’t post links to them all.

Excluding Lauda Finem (who features in search results) can you post any links to any?

DaveG also brought up another of the rumours about Blomfield.

Blomfield will be taken down by someone, we already know some thug assaulted him in his own home, rumoured to be a drug debt (but not substantiated), and we know it wasn’t Slater. The guy has made enemies all over the place, and caused major heart ache and pain for many many people.

From what I’ve seen “rumoured to be a drug debt” is just a rumour, and potentially a deliberately malicious or diversionary rumour.

Yes, we know it wasn’t Slater because someone else has been arrested, convicted and imprisoned for the assault.

What I don’t know is what the motive for the attack was. I asked Blomfield and he says he doesn’t know. He showed me a Police Summary of Facts that states no motive is known.

(Blomfield had previously said he would give me this Summary of Facts to publish. As it contains graphic details of a horrific attack involving a firearm and a family, and provides no evidence of motive – the defendant declined to comment – I see no benefit in or reason for publishing this).

Are there any claims against Blomfield that are backed by facts? If so where are the facts?

I’m certain I haven’t been shown the whole truth, and nothing but the truth could be debatable, but Blomfield has shown me court documents that support his side of the story.

As far as I’ve seen the other side of the story has come primarily from Whale Oil and Lauda Finem or associated individuals, who lack in credibility and have questionable motives.

If anyone, including Whale Oil and Lauda Finem, can provide credible evidence, untainted by fiction, fantasy and vindictiveness, then where is it?

I had taken a neutral stance on Blomfield issues, and allowed different views to be expressed. But then I was dumped in the middle of it by ridiculous claims made on an anonymous blog. So I became more interested in seeking facts.

So far Blomfield has answered questions and provided documents that support his claims. My communications with him have been cordial and without any hint of threat or pressure – he has just told me his side of the story.

From the other side I have been accused of serious complicity by Lauda Finem. When I have posted anything about it they have reacted with abuse and threats and implied threats and more posts with more outlandish accusations.

Now, anyone is free to post their opinion or details about any of this here, providing it doesn’t have legal risk to those who post it or to myself.

But any claims or accusations about Blomfield are likely to be questioned, and supporting evidence will be asked for (“google it”, Whale Oil and Lauda Finem aren’t sufficient).

Perpetuating unsubstantiated rumours will be viewed with suspicion.

There’s usually two sides to any issue. So far to me one side has cordially provided some answers with some credibility (I’m viewing that cautiously) while the other side remains highly questionable in what they claim and how they act. And the more I see the less credible they become. They have the opportunity to reverse that with substantial facts without embellishment of fiction or personal attack. Another hissy fit won’t help their case.

Slater fined for contempt of court

Cameron Slater has been found guilty of seven instances of contempt of court. Six were found to be deemed accidental and minor but “not so trivial as to warrant a finding of no contempt”, ad one was found to involve significant carelessness.

This is part of the ongoing legal action between Matthew Blomfield who is claiming defamation against Slater.

David Fisher, who has clashed with Slater in the past, may have enjoyed reporting:

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater has been found in contempt of court in seven instances and reminded there are responsibilities which come with being a journalist.

The breaches have cost Slater $1500 in a judgment in which he was told “there is a strong expectation that those who ignore court orders are brought to account”.

The ruling is the latest from Justice Raynor Asher in the long-running defamation case brought by businessman Matthew Blomfield against Slater for articles published on the Whale Oil blog.

Six of the contempt findings related to an undertaking by Slater not to publish anything about Mr Blomfield that was not in the public domain through a “reputable media source”.

The final contempt was in relation to details which were published from a confidential, unsuccessful, settlement conference.

Justice Asher did not find the instances of contempt to be deliberate and in all but one case described them as “minor but not so trivial as to warrant a finding of no contempt”.

“They were more than technical.”

It was the publication of information from the settlement conference which he described as “more serious”, labelling it an “accidental contempt of court by Slater but one that was the result of significant carelessness”.

More details plus a copy of the judgement: Whale Oil blogger’s contempt (this includes a history of the defamation case Blomfield versus Slater).

Reviewing comments

Things have changed markedly here over the pasty year or so, especially recently. Your NZ used to chug away quietly with quite quiet comments threads. There’s more interest in joining in now, which is great.

I want it to be as open and inviting to commenting here as possible, I see freedom of speech as important. I’ve experienced some awful forums where abuse and bullying prevails far too much. I want discussion to be able to be robust but not be repellent.

Alongside freedom to speak here is a responsibility to be fair to others, and there’s a responsibility to stay within the law.

I push boundaries at times, and I know how easy it is to get a bit lax in off the cuff comments.

Something I need to do here is be up front and open about what I’m doing.

I’ve had a phone call from Matthew Blomfield, and he expressed concern about some comments here that he feels are unfair and not factual. I’m open to anyone raising issues here and I’ll provide anyone with a reasonable right of reply.And I’m open to anyone being to have their say as long as it fits within standards.

As Matthew is currently involved in legal action he is limited to what he can say publicly. So I asked him to detail any specific concerns and send them to me, which he has. I think he has a fair point with some of them at least.

I’m going to go through them and edit comments when I think it’s appropriate. I’ll do this openly and make it clear when I’ve done it. I have a responsibility to do this fairly.

It can be illegal to make false accusations. It’s unfair to make accusations that can’t be backed by any evidence.

I’m open to anyone who thinks they have been unfairly spoken against to ask me to consider editing it. I want to keep editing to a minimum so co-operation would be appreciated.

I ask that you keep the personal insults and abuse out of it here, and stick to opinion unless you can back up what you say with facts.

One of my primary aims here is to allow the addition of facts that will help the understanding of any relevant issue. This works for any side of an argument.

Matthew has agreed to supply me with information that I think is pertinent to things that have been discussed here, when that becomes available. As long as it’s fact based I’m happy to do that.

No matter what interest anyone has with any issue you are welcome to submit it here for posting.

And I hope you still feel free to rip into discussion here – within reason and within the law.

I’d like Your NZ to be different, where anyone feels comfortable and unthreatened contributing here no matter what their political or social leanings are.

More input and more facts and evidence will improve debate here and it would also improve our politics and democracy generally if practiced more by others.

Pete George

An assault revisited

A firearm related assault nearly a year ago, in late June 2014, came up in comments here and has prompted more of a look at it.

When searching around I came across this article, by David Fisher in NZ Herald last October.

Ex-pizza boss Matt Blomfield: Whaleoil and me

Matt Blomfield was beaten bloody. A shotgun blast ringing in his ears. Blows from the stock of the weapon splitting skin to send blood running down his face.

It was a horrifying attack at home. His children were watching. One stood at the window as her father grappled with the intruder. The other sought shelter in the house, seeking safety from the armed man who brought violence to their home.

Blomfield had fought off the attacker, fiercely enough that police later found blood from which they took DNA. A 37-year-old man was arrested in July and is before the courts.

He struggled to think who might want him hurt, or worse. In the end, he came up with a suspect list of 285,000 people – the monthly readership of the Whaleoil blog, who he believed had been given every reason to think he was one of the worst people in New Zealand.

There are very clear implications in that.

…you don’t have to be famous to become a target of Cameron Slater’s Whaleoil blog. Slater, who has previously called himself a “bully” in an interview with theHerald, lives by the motto “Never F*** With A Blogger”.

Anyone is considered fair game.

And in that. But there are only claims and implications, no evidence.

Martyn Bradbury also linked the assault with Slater when commenting on this story, in The things Whaleoil did to Matthew Blomfield & why haven’t Police chased his stolen emails the way they did for Slater?

Now this assault took place in 20 April 2014 and was reported by Bevan Hurkey at NZ Herald:

Death threats before attack

A businessman who suffered facial injuries during a vicious fight in his home with a masked gunman had received anonymous death threats prior to the incident.

Matthew Blomfield, 38, suffered facial injuries after being hit with a rifle and is understood to have narrowly avoided being shot when the gun went off during the terrifying ordeal last Saturday night.

The gunman, wearing a Spiderman mask, tried to gain access to Blomfield’s home, where his wife and two small children were, it is understood.

A police manhunt with armed officers failed to locate the offender. Forensics officers spent a day at the house searching for any DNA traces.

Several neighbours witnessed part of the attack. Blomfield was admitted to North Shore Hospital with facial injuries and was discharged on Sunday.

Blomfield said he had been advised by police not to comment.

But writing on blog site The Standard last year, he told how he and members of his family had received anonymous, violent threats. Blomfield, a former Hell Pizza advertising executive, launched defamation action against Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater for a series of posts written in 2012.

While Blomfield was “advised by police not to comment” somehow Hurley managed to bring Slater into the reckoning.

Then in July there was an arrest for this

Press Release: New Zealand Police

Wanted man Ned Tehuru PARAHA arrested and charged

Sunday, 13 July 2014 – 12:45pm

Waitemata

Police have this morning arrested and charged Ned Tehurua PARAHA, a wanted man Police have been looking for since late June, in relation to a home invasion.

The 37 year-old was arrested in central Auckland in the early hours of this morning.

Paraha’s image was circulated to media on Friday 27 June.

He has since been charged with aggravated burglary, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault with intent to injure and possession of methamphetamine and will appear in the Auckland District Court tomorrow.

I think it’s fairly uncommon for bloggers or blog commenters (people like us) to be involved in assaults of this type – I haven’t heard of any.

It’s common for druggies and gang members to be involved in assaults. David Fisher is a senior reporter and will have (or should have) researched this sort of detail and not just repeated allegations and insinuations fed to him, shouldn’t he?

Slater responded to Fisher’s article with some suggestions and accusations of his own about what sort of person might have have been involved in the assault in THE LIES BY OMISSION AND INFERENCE OF A TAINTED JOURNALIST [UPDATED].

My Police sources also tell me that this man is a Mongrel Mob associate and despite another person being named as the alleged attacker no evidence exists that proves that, nor do the police suspect that person and the naming of him is viewed as nothing but a vexatious complaint designed to hurt and malign. I don’t know about you guys but I suspect my readership is non-existent in Mongrel Mob circles.

Quite apart from the other simply wrong assertions, it is those ones, the ones that impinge the reputation of me, this site and the readers of this site by a lie of omission and then an inference is outrageous.

The fact that other blogs have spread this, has made their defamation worse

That does sound like Slater is justifiably annoyed. But it doesn’t rule out every possibility, especially when Slater’s wife recounts stories like this on Thursday in Spanish Bride reports back on decade of dirt:

Another speaker told an amusing tale about how Cameron worked with him doing debt collection from Gang members. He made the point that Cam is not just a guy being tough behind a computer screen he is actually just as fearless in real life.

But I can find no evidence at all that Slater was involved in the assault, nor does it seem likely.

Slater added to his October post:

UPDATED: Matthew Blomfield has asked me to remove the details of the person who came to his property from the Whaleoil website. He has a young family and is concerned that associates and family members of this person will read the post.

Mr Blomfield also said that “He has no evidence that Mr Slater was involved in the attack at his home and that he made that very clear to David Fisher”

Matthew can correct me if that’s wrong.

If Blomfield correct then it looks like Fisher has been dishonest and vindictive – and he can correct me if this inaccurately represents what happened, but he must have ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of his article, and in this case it looks sloppy at best.

This also raises questions about why a gang member involved with drugs might have been assaulting Blomfield.