Slater now established at BFD but same old activism, grudges and dirty smearing

Cameron Slater is now established at The BFD in a very similar role he had at Whale Oil – promoting political agendas, showing he still holds deep grudges against past and current National MPs (particularly leaders), making unsubstantiated accusations and insinuations, and running dirty smears that he had become well known for.

He has rejoined co-author ‘Xavier’ in promoting Winston Peters and NZ First, a remarkable reversal to a few years ago where Peters was frequently attacked and ridiculed..

After having a stroke in October 2018 Slater was much less involved at Whale Oil, and stopped commenting altogether (at least under his own name) when it seemed convenient to try to avoid ongoing legal proceedings that ended up continuing anyway.

With large legal debts mounting and a disastrous outcome in the defamation case Matt Blomfield finally won against him, presumably with the expectation of more substantial costs and awards against him, Slater declared himself bankrupt in February 2019, relinquished his official involvement in Social Media Consultants Limited, the company running the Whale Oil blog, and soon afterwards the company went into voluntary liquidation – it was also liable to costs and awards in the Blomfield case (final judgment not yet delivered).

A new company was quickly set up, a new blog The BFD started with Slater’s wife now apparently in sole charge, and Whale Oil 2 was under way, but without Slater headlining the content.

Slater tried but failed to avoid being involved in another defamation case due to his claimed incapacity from the stroke – see SELLMAN v SLATER [2019] NZHC 1666 [17 July 2019]. At that stage Henry was still representing Slater but was trying to get leave to withdraw as Slater’s counsel – this was declined by the judge.

Slater also tried to claim that the proceeding could no longer continue against him because he was now bankrupt.

It was contended for Mr Slater that consequent upon his bankruptcy the defamation proceeding was against Mr Slater’s bankrupt estate, which was in the hands of the Official Assignee, and that the proceeding could no longer continue against Mr Slater in person. In the judgment under appeal delivered on 17 July 2019 Palmer J rejected that argument.

The issue here is whether Mr Slater’s bankruptcy necessarily negates the need to comply with the Court’s orders to date. Irrespective of the default legal effect created by Mr Slater’s bankruptcy, I consider it need not and that it does not.

Under the discretion, on 20 March 2019, I ordered this proceeding to continue against Mr Slater. I consider it is an implicit term of that order that Mr Slater must comply with orders made against him in the proceeding, which was one of the reasons why the plaintiffs sought its continuation against him. If that was not sufficiently implicit, I now make it explicit under that discretion and/or under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to supervise proceedings before it. That means Mr Slater must comply with the court orders irrespective of Mr Henry’s argument about the effect of his bankruptcy.

Slater, now representing himself, tried to appeal this decision, but tried to avoid the need to pay security for costs. This was heard by the Court of Appeal in December: Slater v Sellman [2019] NZCA 670 (19 December 2019)

On 22 July 2019 Mr Slater filed a notice of appeal which named the Official Assignee as second respondent. Security for costs was set at $13,200. On 15 August 2019 Mr Slater applied under r 35(6)(c) of the Court of Appeal (Civil) Rules 2005 (the Rules) for dispensation from security for costs. In a decision dated 20 September 2019 the Deputy Registrar declined that application but directed that security be reduced to $6,600.. Mr Slater seeks a review of the decision declining dispensation.

The Deputy Registrar concluded:

Mr Slater has not shown he is impecunious. Even if he had, there are no exceptional circumstances to justify dispensing with security for costs. Although the appeal potentially raises an issue of public interest, I do not consider a reasonable and solvent litigant would pursue the appeal because its potential benefits are outweighed by potential costs and its merits seem weak. In my view, it would not be right to require the respondents to defend the judgment under appeal without security for their costs.

Bankruptcy does not prevent a bankrupt from maintaining involvement in court proceedings, subject to orders being made under s 76(2) of the Act.

It follows that I consider that there is no merit in an appeal which seeks to challenge these well-established principles.

Consequently it is my view that a reasonable and solvent litigant would not wish to proceed with an appeal of the nature which Mr Slater has filed.

In other words, a ‘reasonable’ litigant would not risk costs in a weak appeal. It’s good to see a court putting a stop at least in this instant to a litigant taking ‘weak’ actions with little chance of success unless they are trying to delay proceedings and incur costs on respondents with no intention of paying costs. Slater and an associate Dermot Nottingham have been able to get away with this far too much (Nottingham is also bankrupt due to large amounts of unpaid costs)

The application to review the Deputy Registrar’s decision declining to dispense with security for costs is declined. Security for costs of $6,600 is payable by Mr Slater by 17 January 2020.

There are no further decisions online so I don’t know if the appeal was able to proceed.

Meanwhile a new author started posting at The BFD,  Xavier Theodore Reginald Ordinary, who was extraordinary not just in their name. The style of writing and the political activism had a lot of similarity to posts at the old Whale Oil under Slater’s name. It is known that different contributors had operated under Slater’s name, and it looked to me that one of them had simply switched to posting under a new name.

Xavier was as anti the current National leadership and as pro Winston Peters and NZ First that Slater had miraculously become about the same time long time lawyer of Peters and NZ First and trustee of the NZ First Foundation currently being investigated by the SFO, Brian Henry, started representing Slater in the Blomfield case. It is presumed that Slater clocked up large legal bills and left Henry with a lot unpaid when he went bankrupt.

Over the last month or so Slater has started to comment and post at The BFD, and is now doing both regularly, much the same as he had been at Whale Oil. The main difference now is that Xavier is doing his own anonymous posts still, but the dual approach looks very similar.

And Slater is operating much the same as he used to. last week he posted By Dodging the Question Todd Muller Admits He’s Been Plotting – that’s a nonsense headline but typical of Slater making ridiculous claims to try to stir. He repeated similar claptrap in the post, and also made dirty insinuations – also typical of Slater.

Yesterday Slater posted National Is Bleeding Out, the Caucus Must Act Time for a Coup, Right Now. He has been calling for coups for years so this is nothing new. He also claims to have some sort of special insight with “I predicted” and “hat is what Chris Trotter and I discussed last week”.

The immediately following that post is one by Xavier – National Need NZ First to Form a Government

The National Party’s 29% poll is a disaster for Simon Bridges personally and for the 18 MPs who will lose their seats. It also means that the new National Party leader will only be able to become Prime Minister if a deal is done with New Zealand First.

We won’t know how many seats will be lost until the election which is over four months away, but on current polling National is nowhere near able to get the numbers with NZ First – in the UMR poll they total just 35%.

‘Xavier’ also pushes for new leadership who should then work with Winston:

They may not get a second election campaign so their one and only chance of becoming PM is to do so with New Zealand First’s support. Muller, Mitchell, Collins and Kaye should all be arranging a whisky with Winston as soon as possible, because, without his support, they will end their career as a failed opposition leader.

Slater, Whale Oil and The BFD have been pushing this since before the last election – National should dump Key/English/Bridges and put in a leader who will give Winston power, or at least give Winston a chance of claiming he has options that give him bargaining power after the election.

But while Slater and his co-conspirator promote one number from the poll, what National got, they are ignoring a bigger number, Labour on 55%. At that level Labour wouldn’t need NZ First to form a Government, and would put Peters in a very week bargaining position – Labour wouldn’t need him and National have ruled him out.

Even if National change leaders it would be very risky for a new leader to suddenly u-turn and say they would consider doing a deal with Peters, after what Peters has said about National and what he tried to do through the court – he secretly filed proceedings just before going into ‘good faith’ coalition negotiations with National after the last election on 2017.

It looks like The BFD is pushing a hopeless cause. Not only are their aims lame, but their influence is negligible. Their anti-National pro-NZ First agenda isn’t well supported even at The BFD, and they have virtually no support at Kiwiblog (and get a lot of criticism there for both National bashing and NZ First shilling).

And the mainstream media stopped given them any coverage six years ago after Dirty Politics was published, showing that Whale Oil had been used as an attack blog for hire.

Slater is back, his dirt is back, but he looks largely impotent. He and Xavier are even at risk of dragging NZ First down below the threshold this election, but that may end up being more influenced by the SFO investigation into questionable handling of donations and secret funding of party operations.