Persistent offenders will be prosecuted

Whaleoil does it again – making it clear who someone is when their name is suppressed. He is defending his actions:

“I will not remove the series of images in question. The way I have acted has been entirely consistent with the public interest.

“I intend to vigorously fight any charges or allegations to the contrary,”

He should know about Solicitor General David Collins comments at R vs Internet two weeks ago. The Solicitor General admitted that while the Government has prosecuted only 3 name suppression cases recently they will target those who are persistent offenders and clearly acting as if they are above the law. He seemed very passionate about it, angry even, and I for one was under no doubt that Whaleoil was in his sights.

He should also be aware of Judge Harvey’s comments to me after I challenged his presumption that you could really block someone’s content online when we have so much content now on Twitter and Facebook (you can’t – not without blocking the entire sites). He eventually replied that no matter what the technology, I would still be sitting in New Zealand, and thus exposing myself to legal action. He was also very passionate about the subject – and I admit that I would not want to face that passion on the wrong side in a court room.

I do agree with both the SG and Judge Harvey – willful disobedience of a judge’s ruling is simply asking for trouble, and that targeting the person rather than the technology is the right thing to do.

It will only take a handful (at most) of cases to turn the tide, and my take is that Whale Oil is clearly going to be dragged before the court soon as an example, and most certainly if he keeps offending.

My suggestion to anyone that would listen at R vs Internet is that the Justice department and judges should be making phone calls and sending emails to key offenders very soon after the offending material is written. A quick phone call letting a blogger know about the seriousness and potential consequences of breaching a suppression order will see most of them fall in line.

However I am afraid Cameron Slater at Whale Oil feels he is beyond the reach of the law – here’s a short article from NewsTalk ZB: My apologies to ZB as I copied the entire article.

The blogger who has published clues to the identity of an Olympian facing rape charges says he would do it again.(1)

The man used pictures and symbols to reveal the name of the athlete who faces 13 charges including one of raping his wife. The blogger, who does not want to be identified (2) believes the accused should not have his name suppressed.

“I think the suppression laws we have in New Zealand are silly. I don’t believe in permanent name suppression except in exceedingly rare cases (3).”

The blogger says he will vigorously fight any charges or allegations and will not remove the images in question. He says he also identified the entertainer (4) who gained permanent name suppression after being convicted and discharged last month of an indecent act.

Let’s go through the highlighted phrases:

  1. Slater shows no contrition, shows that it was deliberate and that he did it and is demonstrating that he believes he is above the law
  2. It’s pretty obvious that the blog is Whaleoil, and that it is written by Cameron Slater. His own press release on Scoop makes that even more obvious. <Update from WhaleOil in comments below: “In their radio news they said correctly they they wouldn’t name me for fear of prosecution themselves.“>
  3. Again Slater shows that he believes he is above the law. That’s really going to annoy the SG,  judges and QCs and he is asking to be bought to account.
  4. Slater confesses to another breach of the suppression law. That’s going to make it really easy to place charges and win in court

Last word to Philip Morgan QC:

“This is a particularly deliberate contempt of court and any particularly deliberate contempt of court is punished severely.”

<Update: WhaleOil provides and update (and asks for a lawyer). Cameron Slater was issued, om the 22nd of December, with a summons to appear on 5 January to respond to four charges – 3 separate ones for “breaching an order of the district court of Auckland” on 3 dates and one for “Publishing a name or particulars likely to lead to the identification of a person upon whom an offense was committed”.  By placing the four offenses in one summons it seems clear that they want to shut down the persistent offending.

I note that Cameron has followed the recommendation in the Police letter to him and taken down at least one post, and so will avoid the potential for the laying of further charges.

It’s a tough time of year to find a lawyer.>

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9 Responses to Persistent offenders will be prosecuted

  1. Whaleoil says:

    The NewstalkZb story is inaccurate. I never said to them I didn’t want to be identified. In their radio news they said correctly they they wouldn’t name me for fear of prosecution themselves.

    Should I be prosecuted then i will defend it and i will show how stupid the suppression laws in the age of the internet are.

    Like

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      thanks – I’ve updated the comment.

      Are you really confident that you will win? Do you have a good lawyer that is advising you and will you have quality (read expensive) representation in court?

      Like

  2. Sam Farrow says:

    These issues have been covered in Robert Bolt’s play A Man For All Seasons which tells the story of Sir Thomas More’s struggle with Henry the 8th’s decision to divorce and remarry against the wishes of the catholic church.

    There are two pertinent quotes – both from the protagonist, Sir Thomas More.

    The first is:

    And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

    Here Boult is making the point that we all have a different set of values but for a society to work we need to agree on what those values are. Or how else can we trust each other to do what we say we will do.

    The second is:

    What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    And Boult has the truth: for a society to work the rule of law must prevail, not just the laws we agree with, but all laws.

    For our society to work our fight with laws must be with the electorate, not the judiciary.

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  3. Mark Harris says:

    BTW It’s Judge *David* Harvey, not “John”

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  4. Rick Shera says:

    Stupidity or otherwise of laws does not a defence make of course – just ask Vince Siemer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vince_Siemer

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  5. Pingback: Contempt watch: Whaleoil and name suppression « Lance Wiggs

  6. PhilBee, NZ says:

    Not that I support these pictorially-outed people, but aren’t they innocent until proven guilty? When was WhaleOil given the right to scream “J’accuse!”?
    If Cameron Slater wants a jolly joust with the judiciary, that’s his call – but as the law stands (outdated though it may be), he’s in the wrong…and he knows it. This feels awfully like publicity-seeking.

    PhilBee, NZ

    http://yardyyardyyardy.blogspot.com/2009/12/to-blog-or-not-to-blog-that-is-question.html

    Like

    • A Prominent NZ Entertainer says:

      In case you weren’t aware, the prominent NZ entertainer named by Slater was found guilty, and his name suppression was made permanent at the end of the trial.

      Like

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