Blomfield versus www.laudafinem.com

According to the Daily List Matthew Blomfield is back in the Auckland High Court today, this time against ‘Lauda Finem’.

Last week Blomfield was in court in a defamation action against Cameron Slater. This trial was set down for ‘up to four weeks’ but seems to have finished as it has now dropped off the daily list (since yesterday). Presumably this is now waiting for a judgment. That could take a while. Slater is waiting for the judgment of cross claims versus Colin Craig 18 months after the trial, but that is a much more complex proceeding that may be waiting on rulings in Jordan Williams v Craig, which was in the Supreme Court recently on a point of appeal,

The notice for CIV2016-044-121:

MATTHEW JOHN BLOOMFIELD v THE OWNER AND / OR ADMINISTRATORS OF WWW.LAUDAFINEM.COM

It is hard to find any information about this. The only hit on ‘Lauda Finem’ on court Decisions Online is MALTESE CAT LIMITED v DOE [2017] NZHC 1634 [14 July 2017] which shows defendants as:

JOHN DOE AND/OR JANE DOE
Defendants

DERMOT NOTTINGHAM
Second Defendant

[2] The claim contends that all three were victimised by defamatory publications on the website, http://www.laudafinem.com (the offending website).

[7] The plaintiffs want these four webpages to be declared defamatory. They have good reason to believe that if the declaration is made by this Court then GoDaddy and DBP will no longer host the pages. At the present time they have been taken down. A declaration is sought under s 24 of the Defamation Act 1992. By the terms of that Act they have to seek defamation against a person and hence the proceedings were commenced against John and Jane Doe. The plaintiffs, however, believe the offending material was put together by Mr Dermot Nottingham.

[17] I am also concerned that Mr Nottingham has neither denied he is responsible for the subject defamatory publications on the website, nor expressly pleaded that they are true.

In a second judgment – MALTESE CAT LIMITED v JOHN DOE AND/OR JANE DOE [2017] NZHC 1728 [25 July 2017] – Nottingham defended the action  due to what he claimed was time limitation but the judge ruled that it was not time barred and could proceed. There are no other judgments, but there was a Court of Appeal hearing in August for which there is no published judgment yet.

Nottingham was recently convicted of two breaches of non-publication orders, and five charges of criminal harassment, which I would presume would have some bearing on this latest action. From sentencing notes:

[22] Now, I make some findings of fact. Consistent with the verdicts of the jury I have concluded that between 2010 and 2015 Dermot Nottingham published or had published numerous articles on the blog site laudafinem.com. Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published.

See “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

Some information that seems linked directly to the current action was posted on laudafinem.com – that website was shut down by court order as a result. A post in October 2016:

Godaddy, our web hosting provider, has very kindly agreed to oblige a New Zealand court and hand over the domain laudafinem.com and various other material; we hold unlawfully of course; not a good look for a provider that sells itself as a bastion of free speech.

We at Lauda Finem are now apparently at the coal-face of international law and the struggle for press freedom, for despite Cameron Slater, also a blogger, having been declared a journalist, Kiwi High Court Judge, Peter Woodhouse, seems to have opted to ignore that fact and taken the very dangerous step of unlawfully interfering with a legitimate media outlet, an off-shore whistle-blowing anti-corruption website at that.

“The struggle for press freedom” is a laugh. This is more of a struggle to hold to account rogue website operators who try to be clever to get around New Zealand laws.

Moreover, despite Blomfield failing to even comply with his obligation to file his substantive arguments in the Slater case, and no sign that he is even capable of doing so, he has now decided, after more than 4 years, that he’s going to take on another “defamation tort”.

As is common with these numpties, the reverse of what they claim is closer to the truth. “Failing to even comply with his obligation to file his substantive arguments” applies more to Slater’s attempts to delay and avoid going to trial, and that may have backfired on him. Blomfield succeeded in getting it to trial so must have complied.

A follow up post:

Following on from our last post covering the Blomfield saga and his latest attempt to pervert justice LF have now been advised that the New Zealand Court decision enabling Kiwi lawyers to seize the LF site, in addition to the obvious lack of jurisdiction, may also breach EU laws on privacy, data protection, whistle blower, and journalist protections.

Did Judge Peter Woodhouse realize he lacked jurisdiction? Did Blomfield mislead him? Perhaps Woodhouse would care to explain his failures and the likely breaches of EU law?

With this in mind LF is now intending to email every Kiwi elected politician for their information and opinion, we’ll of course be following that up with a complete file copy, delivered by post, evidence that the legal hi-jinks of Mr Blomfield are merely designed to thwart LF’s reporting of the truth.

Remember LF has been following this story for many years, we’ve been posting, providing damning evidence for years, but not a peep from Blomfield until LF published damning evidence…

This appears to be related to the Slater defamation action. LF somehow managed to obtain the huge amount of data that Slater used in his posts attacking and accusing Blomfield. One the defamation action got under way Slater made an undertaking to the court not to post any more about Blomfield, but LF continued to post on it.

Remember readers, this so-called court judgement is a scam, service was not effected in accordance with New Zealand’s own laws. And as aforesaid it also likely breaches EU laws and treaties protecting residents whistle-blowers and journalists privacy.

Two years later it has now gone to trial.

Disclosure of interest: While I am not involved in the case before the court today and don’t have details of what it is actually trying to do, I have an interest in all of this because I was dragged into this whole Blomfield versus Slater and Lauda Finem messy business. They tried to use Your NZ to attack Blomfield in breach of court orders, and when I stopped that they started attacking me.

This involved an ongoing campaign of disruption here, litigation and attempted litigation (involving Nottingham, Slater plus  Marc Spring and Earle McKinney) and numerous threats of more litigation. I was also the target in a number of Lauda Finem posts and comments that made false accusations and threats, were defamatory, and were similar to harassment others have been subjected to.

Others here were also targeted by LF.  So the outcome of whatever is being attempted in court today will be of interest.

 

Blomfield versus Slater trial over?

The Matthew Blomfield versus Cameron Slater defamation trial started last Monday, but I still can’t find any media coverage, so it’s hard to know exactly what is going on.

Slater posted on it at Whale Oil on Tuesday but he claimed this:

Legal action was started six years ago, but given the nature of [redacted], the plaintiff hasn’t actually been very keen to get the case before the court and has used every trick in the book to avoid this trial while I have fought to get the case before the judge.

That is so ridiculous (Blomfield as the Plaintiff could have ended the action any time he wanted to and court judgments show that Slater tried to appeal, delay and strike out the action) that anything Slater claims should be viewed with scepticism.

‘Bill Brown’ claimed here on Wednesday that the trial “Starts next Monday” but that is obviously wrong.

The case was included every day this week on the High Court Daily List, but it shows a change for Monday:

CIV2013-404-5218 Civil Proceeding – Defamation
MATTHEW JOHN BLOMFIELD (F E Geiringer, G Vosper) v CAMERON JOHN SLATE (GF Littlie SC, D Beard)

That suggests Slater was right about one thing, he has another law representing him now.

But I have heard that the trial may have ended on Friday, even though it was set down for up to four weeks. I’m not sure what this means.

I know from past judgments that Slater “has not advanced an arguable defence” on some publications. He may have since done that but this suggests his defence in part at least is not strong. See BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2018] NZHC 1099 [18 May 2018] for a summary as at May this year.

The publications are incapable of amounting to expressions of opinion

[80] As I have already observed, it is for the Judge in the first instance to determine whether, reading the publication as a whole and assuming the pleaded imputations can be proved, the publication is capable of being an expression of opinion rather than a statement of fact.

[81] Mr Geiringer invites me to consider this issue now to avoid wasting time at trial dealing with a defence that is not available given the wording used in the publications. I agree that this would have advantages. I consider, however, that the assessment should properly be made once the pleadings are in their final form. One reason for this is that an order for strike out at this stage gives rise to appeal rights that could jeopardise the trial date. Given the age of this proceeding that would be highly
unfortunate.

[82] Furthermore, and as I have already observed, the defence must be based on the facts referred to in the publication together with other facts that were generally known at the time of the publication. There is no ability, as there is in a defence based on truth, to rely on facts that come into existence after the publication. These factors significantly restrict the scope of the evidence that Mr Slater may adduce to establish the defence. I therefore do not consider there is much scope in the present case for Mr Slater to call a significant body of additional evidence in relation to the defence of honest opinion.

[83] I therefore consider the issue should properly be considered at trial. It will be for the trial Judge to ensure Mr Slater does not call evidence beyond the scope of that permitted to establish the defence.

Slater only needs to lose on one publication to lose the case, but I presume the number of defamatory publications would affect the possible damages awarded. That will be for the judge to decide, which we will find out in due course.

Bull and hypocrisy (again) from Slater

On Monday SB posted on Whale Oil:

Starting today Cam is back in the High Court for up to four weeks depending on how the trial goes.

A lot has changed on the blog since our last court case and the good news is that we now have an amazing Whaleoil team of writers who will be stepping up to fill the time slots that Cam usually fills.

Last time Cam was able to do some posts because we rented an apartment that was walking distance from the court so there was no long commute to and from the court each day.  This time around Cam will be doing the long commute between the city and Whangaparaoa each day instead.

Implying there would be no time to post.

I have done a Jacinda and made a Captain’s Call. I have put my foot down and told him that he is not to write on the weekends until the case is over.

But two days later, on Wednesday morning, Slater wrote a post called Battling Lawfare, which was loaded with bull and hypocrisy, plus a plea for donations to pay for legal bills (defamation proceedings lasting six years and defamation trials lasting 4 weeks can be very expensive regardless of any awards). Later in the morning the post disappeared, .with an explanation in  another post with the same headline

The earlier post regarding the current proceedings that Cam is involved in has been ordered down by the court.

Legal bills are mounting again so here is how you can continue to help us to fight the good fight.

There was no evidence given that the court ordered the take down, but there were some parts of the post that could cause concerns for the court – or for a defence lawyer. (Slater has had problems with this in the past – see Slater fined for contempt of court).

There was never any explanation of what the legal proceedings were about, apart from vague ‘fight the good fight’ and claiming victimhood. I posted some background here – Whale Oil be fucked? Defamation trial against Slater starting on Monday.

In his post yesterday Slater implied similar accusations to those he is being sued for defamation for. I won’t repeat them here.

Some things he said were more general, showing his habit of self interested bull and rank hypocrisy. Slater:

Legal action was started six years ago, but given the nature of [redacted], the plaintiff hasn’t actually been very keen to get the case before the court and has used every trick in the book to avoid this trial while I have fought to get the case before the judge.

I think that if you look back through the court judgments online (only some on the six year saga are online) you will see the opposite is closer to the truth.

This is an absurd claim from Slater. Blomfield has persisted for six years to get this to trial. As the Plaintiff, all he would need to do to “avoid this trial” would be to withdraw the proceedings. Slater’s “I have fought to get the case before the judge” sounds delusional, unless it is just bull to try to get sympathy and defence fund donations.

He claims to be a victim of ‘lawfare’ when he has attacked people via the courts himself.

I will not allow the use of lawfare by [redacted] to silence me.

That’s hugely hypocritical, given the involvement of Slater as informant and witness in four private private prosecutions (one against me), plus his association in an incompetent court order trying to silence me here at Your NZ, plus his association with other threats of ‘lawfare’ against me from Dermot Nottingham and anonymous comments posted here and posts at Whale Oil.

I will continue to fight for truth and transparency.

That’s just laughable – more so because Slater may well believe his own bull. He has been far from transparent even in his post yesterday, and the follow up post was far from transparent.

We must not allow the truth to be silenced, and with the invaluable support of family, friends and readers I will continue to fight for justice to the bitter end.

Very funny. The fighter for truth tried to avoid the current defamation trial for six years.

And he also fought to silence ‘truth’ in the Dirty Politics saga – RNZ: Court showdown over Slater’s hacked email

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater has launched court injunction proceedings in an attempt to prevent three of New Zealand’s biggest media companies from publishing more of his hacked emails and Facebook conversations.

Mr Slater has served papers on APN New Zealand, Fairfax Media and MediaWorks to try to stop them quoting from emails and other communications allegedly taken from his accounts.

There are issues over the emails and online conversations being obtained illegally – but in his battle against defamation Slater himself used the contents of a hard drive containing data owned by Blomfield, allegedly obtained illegally, and at the very least I think used maliciously by Slater and others (Lauda Finem were given a copy of the contents).

The truth I don’t know whether or when Slater (and Nottingham and Spring et al) deliberately make things up and lie, and when they really believe the bull they spout.  Slater, like Nottingham, may really believe he is a fighter for truth and justice. If so that doesn’t mean what he says is accurate, or based on facts and reality, and without irony and hypocrisy.

I certainly think that their credibility is severely challenged.

No news on Blomfield v Slater

I previewed the defamation trial between Matthew Blomfield and Cameron Slater here: Whale Oil be fucked? Defamation trial against Slater starting on Monday

As far as I know the trial started on Monday but I can find no media coverage, which seems unusual. Perhaps Slater is too toxic for the media to cover him any more, but that seems unlikely.

It has been on the Court Daily List all week, but there is a curious change. On Monday and Tuesday it was shown as:

NO 8 COURT BEFORE THE HON. JUSTICE DAVISON
CIV2013-404-5218 MATTHEW JOHN BLOMFIELD (F E Geiringer) v CAMERON JOHN SLATER  (D Beard) & ANOR
Civil Proceeding – Defamation

But on today’s list (Wednesday) it has changed from to ‘Civil Proceeding – Defamation’ to ‘Pre-trial hearing’ I have no idea what that means. It could be just a mistake, I think there was a pre-trial hearing on Friday.

SB posted at Whale Oil on Monday:  Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Starting today Cam is back in the High Court for up to four weeks depending on how the trial goes. The battle royale starts today.

It certainly feels very bizarre to be back in the high court for a second case when the first case from over a year ago has still not concluded.

This time around I will not be able to accompany Cam as I was only a part-timer back then but I work full time, seven days a week for the blog now.

Last time Cam was able to do some posts because we rented an apartment that was walking distance from the court so there was no long commute to and from the court each day. In fact, we spent our 25th Wedding Anniversary there. This time around Cam will be doing the long commute between the city and Whangaparaoa each day instead. If the case goes for the full 4 weeks Cam will be spending his 50th birthday.

Last time was Craig versus Slater. The judgment is not yet out, well over a year after the trial.

I know from our last experience that Cam will be mentally, physically and emotionally drained at the end of each week so I have done a Jacinda and made a Captain’s Call. I have put my foot down and told him that he is not to write on the weekends until the case is over.

I have told him to rest on the weekends and that we will all just have to cope without him.

During Craig trial, and when Slater was ill early last year, there were some posts from Slater. Since then Whale Oil has become much less reliant on his input, with SB taking a much more active role and a number of others becoming regular contributors. WO seems to be chugging away ok there, although comment numbers seem to be lower.

We are VERY confident that we will win this latest court case but your guess is as good as mine as to how long it will take to get a judgement.

The Whale Meat Company is currently helping us to fund our court case so your support of our new business is not only feeding your family it is supporting ours while ensuring that Whaleoil will not be silenced.

There were supporting comments and commiserations for the fading political activist.

A curious comment from ‘Loki’ here yesterday:

Things went horribly wrong for our hero yesterday.
No court today !

That appears to be a sarcastic reference to Slater.

‘Bill Brown’, who keeps trying to disguise his association with the case, has not been here reporting any positives so his optimism that some claims had been dropped was a positive may have been premature.

Court cases can be a black hole for information if media don’t cover them, and if you can’t attend in person. I will keep an eye out for any developments, but for now there is little information available.

Whale Oil be fucked? Defamation trial against Slater starting on Monday

Whale Oil potentially be fucked if the defamation trial about to start in the Auckland High Court is successful.

Matthew Blomfield started defamation proceedings against Cameron Slater in 2012 after a series of posts (thirteen) on Whale Oil attacking Blomfield. It finally goes to trial on Monday after Slater ran out of legal options to avoid facing the claims against him.

NO 8 COURT BEFORE THE HON. JUSTICE DAVISON
First Floor 10.00am
CIV2013-404-5218 MATTHEW JOHN BLOMFIELD (F E Geiringer) v CAMERON JOHN SLATER (D Beard) & ANOR
Civil Proceeding – Defamation

The defamation claim

[5] In 2012, Mr Slater ran and administrated the blog website “Whale Oil” under the name http://www.whaleoil.co.nz (Whale Oil). Mr Blomfield had provided marketing services to Hells Pizza until 2008 and had been a director of a company Hell Zenjiro Ltd (in liquidation), which had owned several outlets of the Hells Pizza chain. That company went into liquidation on 9 April 2008 and was struck off the Companies Register on 6 September 2013. Mr Blomfield was adjudicated a bankrupt in 2010 and an order was made prohibiting him from being a director of a company. He has since been discharged from bankruptcy

[6] Hells Pizza had an association with a charity known as “KidsCan”. On 3 May 2012 Mr Slater wrote and published on his Whale Oil website a blog post entitled “Who really ripped off KidsCan?”. It contained a number of statements that Mr Blomfield claims were defamatory of him. On the same day Mr Slater wrote another blog on the Whale Oil website entitled “Knowing me, knowing you – Matt Blomfield”. In that story he made a number of statements about Mr Blomfield. Between 3 May 2012 and 6 June 2012, Mr Slater wrote and published on his website 13 articles that referred to Mr Blomfield.

[7] Mr Blomfield claims that these articles allege that he had conspired to steal charitable funds and was alleged to be a thief, as well as dishonest, dishonourable, a party to fraud, involved in criminal conspiracy, bribery, deceit, perjury, conversion, the laying of false complaints, drug dealing and making pornography. He was also accused of being a psychopath, a criminal, a thief and a “cock smoker”.

[8] The majority of the articles that are the subject of the claim contain extracts of emails to which Mr Blomfield is allegedly a party. They refer to electronic files which Mr Blomfield claims were sourced from his hard-drive and potentially other sources including a filing cabinet of Mr Blomfield.

[9] Mr Slater admitted in his statement of defence that he had in his possession copies of emails, databases and electronic files relating to the affairs of Mr Blomfield. He stated that on or about February 2012 he was provided with a
hard-drive that included approximately one terabyte of computer files previously owned by Mr Blomfield.

[10] Following the publication of the articles on the Whale Oil website, Mr Blomfield filed proceedings in the Manukau District Court in October 2012 in which he claimed that the statements and the articles were defamatory. He sought anorder that the material relating to him be removed from the Whale Oil website as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

SLATER v BLOMFIELD [2014] NZHC 2221 [12 September 2014]

The trial was initially delayed due to arguments about Slater’s status as a journalist, and whether this allowed him to keep secret sources of material he published – he had appeared to be acting on behalf of others. Slaater was found to be acting as a journalist, but in 2014 a judge ruled:

[150] On balance the public interest in disclosure outweighs any adverse effects on the informants and the ability of the media to freely receive information and access sources.

[151] Therefore Mr Blomfield succeeds on overview and there is an order that s 68(1) does not apply, and Mr Slater must answer the interrogatories and comply with discovery in the usual way.

SLATER V BLOMFIELD CA 678/2014 [2015] NZCA 240 [17 June 2015]

Slater applied to adduce new evidence, and tried to appeal, but eventually failed, as did other legal attempts. A judgment from 6 July 2017:

[2] Mr Slater has applied to strike out Mr Blomfield’s proceeding on grounds of delay. Mr Blomfield applies for further discovery, on an “unless” basis. Both applications are opposed. Mr Blomfield contends that the delay in prosecuting his claim to hearing has largely been caused by Mr Slater’s own actions.

[30] Mr Slater referred me to a wealth of information to suggest that Mr Blomfield may not have had any relevant business reputation at the time the articles were published on the Whaleoil site. He submitted that the Court’s resources should not be deployed to deal with such an undeserving claim for defamation.

[31] I do not accept that this proceeding is of such a character as to justify invocation of the Jameel approach. A number of the allegations made against Mr Blomfield go beyond his business activities and/or practices; in particular, the suggestions that he might be a pornographer and/or a psychopath. In my view, while there may be a question about the value of his claims based on business reputation, the same cannot be said about those other aspects of the claim.

[32] In those circumstances, the better course is to ensure the proceeding is readied for trial promptly. Mr Slater’s application to strike out is dismissed.

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

The trial is set to start over a year later.

While Slater is in the firing line, if he loses this Whale Oil will take a hit as well. Slater has been far less prominent on the blog over the last few months so it could probably survive without him, but if a sizeable award goes against Slater, or even just costs (costs are eye-wateringly high in defamation proceedings) it would put the blog at financial risk – Whale Oil could be fucked.

Slater has not been acting alone through all this. He was supplied information – one of the sources has been revealed as Marc Spring, and the court ordered that others be revealed but I don’t think that has shown in court judgments.

In 2015 Spring also tried to use Your NZ to continue attacks on Blomfield against a court agreement with Slater and against a restraining order. I believe that me stopping Spring was at least part of the reason he Slater and Dermot Nottingham turned on me, attacking me here, via lauda Finem and via the courts (the legal harassment is ongoing, I have a hearing v Nottingham in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday).

Spring has obvious associations with Lauda Finem, where attacks against Blomfield continued well into 2016, until Blomfield had the site shut down by court order (I think that something on that is also due to come up in court this month).

Nottingham has also been thick in this. Both he and Spring feature here: SLATER v BLOMFIELD [2014] NZHC 2221 [12 September 2014].

And Nottingham continued to assist Slater:

Hearing: 6 July 2017
Counsel: F Geiringer for Plaintiff
C J Slater, in person, Defendant
(D Nottingham as McKenzie Friend for Mr Slater)

With friends like that…

And this year Nottingham was sentenced for breaching non-publication orders (suppression) and criminal harassment via Lauda Finem – see  “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

It would appear that Slater has a difficult defence on at least some of the claims.

The ninth publication – 17 May 2012

[51] Mr Slater has not responded to the evidence adduced by Mr Blomfield regarding this issue.

[52] The overall tenor of the publication is clearly defamatory because it accuses Mr Blomfield of stealing assets belonging to the company and then selling them to a third party

.The twelfth publication – 6 June 2012

[61] Mr Slater has not responded to this evidence so for present purposes must be taken to have no answer to it. He would therefore appear to have no arguable defence to the claim relating to this publication. As in the case of the ninth publication, however, I propose to exercise my discretion against the entry of summary judgment and for the same reasons.

BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2018] NZHC 1099 [18 May 2018]

The challenge:

[76] Mr Slater needs to be aware, however, that the defences comprise different elements. For that reason the same particulars may not support both defences. In order to establish the defence of truth, for example, it is necessary for the defendant to set out the facts and circumstances relied upon to prove either that the pleaded imputations are true or substantially true, or that the publication as a whole is substantially true.

[78] The defence of honest opinion requires the defendant to establish that, reading the publication as a whole, such imputations as the fact finder has found to exist were conveyed by the publication as expressions of opinion rather than statements of fact. It is for the Judge in the first instance to determine whether the imputations are capable of being opinion rather than fact. Importantly, the facts in the publication must have existed at the time of the publication and must either have been alleged or referred to in the publication. Alternatively, they must have been generally known at the time. The defendant may not go outside these parameters in establishing the defence of honest opinion. Furthermore, the defendant may not call evidence at trial that is outside the ambit of the permitted particulars. For that reason the particulars “serve to focus and confine the evidence which may be given in support of defences of truth
and honest opinion”.

[79] Mr Slater needs to re-plead his statement of defence and particulars bearing in mind these principles. He also needs to be aware that he will not be permitted to call evidence at trial if it falls outside the pleadings in their final form.

The means that Slater cannot use the trial as a way of continuing the campaign against Blomfield by calling witnesses in order to attack Blomfield when this is outside the defence of ‘honest opinion’ – I think his defence has to be based on his own opinion at the time of publishing the posts on Whale Oil, not the ‘opinions’ of his associates and accomplices.

I have a particular interest in this because I got dragged into this as a means to try to avoid court orders.

But there should be wider interest.

If Blomfield is successful there is a real possibility that Whale Oil be fucked.

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.