Another example of the New Zealand courts and medias attempts to rain in the blogosphere is unfolding in Auckland and this time its the National party’s spin doctor, blogger and pinup boy, Cameron Slater, thats under attack. It appears that the bloke behind the attack, a man the New Zealand Heralds Sunday edition prefers to have called “an Auckland businessman”, is none other than Matthew John Bloomfield of Hells Pizza infamy – the belly-up, millions owning banned director and discharged bankrupt.
Unsurprisingly Slater is now also under attack from the local leftist blogger brigade, characters such as ‘The Daily Blogs’ Martin Bradbury who only a matter of weeks ago was himself subjected to attempted intimidation by New Zealand Police over his publishing of a satirical and appropriate cartoon lampooning the cops that the cops didn’t much like.
During that particular police attack we supported Bradbury’s right to publish, despite often being in disagreement with Bradbury’s habits and opinions. In our view Bradbury in his piece this morning has failed to see the wood for the trees and the danger Judge Charles Blackie’s decision poses to all New Zealand based bloggers – Bradbury included.
Bradbury, not seeing that potential hazard obviously felt more concerned with boastfully patting himself on the back for using politically correct rhetoric and judgement calls whilst taking the opportunity to twist the knife thats been thrust into Slaters back, with out any regard whatsoever to the circumstances, evidence and agenda driving the court proceedings against Slater. Bradbury’s states:
If you are going to, as a blogger, try and use Journalist protections, then you have to at some level show some type of threshold of ethical standards. Slater is so vicious and so vulgar and so malicious, he can not for one second pretend he has earned those source protections………On one level I pity Cam and feel sad for his inability to control the anger that he lashes out with, and his depression seems to be a terrible trigger for this, but the Len Brown humiliation was just so needlessly cruel you can’t justify it. Cam faces those consequences now.Source: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/12/01/whaleoil-hoisted-by-his-own-harpoon/#sthash.WqLPQdnp.dpuf
Bradbury’s opinion, comprising mainly nauseating PC rhetoric fails to understand or address the legal issues and threat, there is no legal requirement for any form of media to be “NICE”; if there was talk back radio would undoubtedly cease to exist. Bradbury’s failure to grasp very simple legal principles, an obvious lack of vigilance and his obvious desire for oneupmanship may come back to bite Bradbury on the arse if Slater fails to appeal and he and his source are eventually rolled. Bradbury is deluded if he thinks he hasn’t made enemies who’d jump at the chance for a little payback given half an opportunity – The New Zealand police would be first in a long line.
Now of course Bradbury himself, as with Slater, is a myopic self opinionated narcissist. Excluding the highly partisan content of their respective blogs there are only two discernible differences that we can see between Slater and Bradbury in style.
Bradbury is a die-hard lefty, Slater a die-hard right winger; Bradbury likes to come across as balanced, but in reality is merely adhering to a particular form of political correctness that is only to be found in New Zealand and in particular its left wing political spectrum. Slater on the other hand is an unashamed arsehole who gets his jollies flailing lefty’s, judges he personally perceives as soft-cocks and of course the labour party.
In our opinion however both bloggers have their place, the right to their opinions and a substantial readership interested in reading and sharing those opinions. Mr Martyn Bradbury would do well to remember three maxims, “let he who is without sin caste the first stone” , “there but for the grace of God go I” and of course a little ditty thats found in shakespeares Hamlet:
“…;for there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so”,
As always one would also do well to ignore anything published on this subject by New Zealand’s mainstream media hypocrites, APN, Fairfax, TVNZ and TV3 whose agenda in this particular case is to be found in the way that the New Zealand Herald and TV3 stories have been spun, first by omitting to detail the history of the protagonist, Auckland Businessman Matthew John Blomfield, whilst salaciously providing details of Slaters past. Then of course there is the New Zealand Heralds choice of legal expert. Most NZ Herald readers could be forgiven for not being aware that the journo, Bevan Hurley‘s, chosen “Media Law expert” is far from an independent legal commentator, he’s politically to the centre left, an academic and a blogger, not a hard arsed barrister with a long and successful track record in defending defamation torts:
Wellington media lawyer Steven Price said the thrust of the Law Commission’s report was that bloggers who were serving the functions of free speech and a free press should be treated as media and be entitled to media privileges.
“Still, it is concerned that the reporting be dispassionate and reliable. It can be argued that Whale Oil doesn’t measure up on that criterion.”
Its a crying shame that journo, Bevan Hurley, did not pose the same questions on how the New Zealand Herald or for that matter Fairfax’s Dominion Post or The Sunday Star Times would measure up in Steven Prices legal opinion. After all these publications more often than not produce material that is little more than opinion and in some case stories that are clearly an attempt to rewrite history on behalf of the faceless men and woman in power, and of course their advertisers.
Hurley additionally failed to provide any evidence whatsoever of where Slater’s reporting on Matt Blomfield had not been “dispassionate and reliable” not that is in any way a legal requirement. Clearly Blomfield was unable to offer any evidence of Slaters alleged defamation. Whats more Hurley and blogger Martyn Bradbury, despite Hurley himself very briefly touching on it, seem not to have noticed the rather large and very conspicuous elephant in Judge Charles Blackie’s court room which is to be found in one of Blomfields so-called submissions;
“Blomfield said that by accessing Slater’s emails he would be able to determine whether they were written with malice, a key consideration in determining defamation.”
Based on Blomfields argument in court, as reported by Hurley, it would seem that the discharged bankrupt Blomfield has been hard pressed, on the content of Slaters allegedly defamatory articles alone, to evidence defamation or the required malice and that for some inexplicable reason Judge Blackie was prepared to grant Blomfield a license to embark on what amounts to little more than a fishing expedition so he can find out who leaked the information to Slater.
Reading between the lines of Blackie’s clearly Ultra Vires ruling perhaps the good judge was far more mindful of another issue, a perceived bias that could later raise its ugly head, in the form of an application for recusal by Blomfield. The perceived bias we refer to could for example be found in the number of rather flattering posts praising Judge Blackie that Slater himself has penned, posts that have now come back to bite him on the arse:
Finally a Judge we can believe inby Cameron Slater on January 13, 2010
Don’t like his chances. At least the District Court Judge made the right call even if the pricks lawyer is appealing.
Ish Jayanadan – the lawyer of the man charged with Mr Snow’s attempted murder – argued for continued name suppression so the man’s mother, who is out of the country could be told of the charges her son faces.
Ms Jayanadan also opposed in court media coverage and said she had not received the police files on the case and the identity of the man could be important to his case.
Judge Charles Blackie said disclosure of police evidence was not due and there was no reason for the name suppression to continue.
He said he would be treating the man the same as all those who had appeared before him.
Judge Blackie said he was “not impressed” with Ms Jayanadan’s arguments and the principles of open justice applied.
He said the matter had been before the courts since December 23, when the man had a bedside court appearance at Middlemore Hospital, and there had been plenty of time to notify his mother.
Exactly, too bad, how sad. Judge Blackie should be applauded. Let’s see what happens at with the Appeal. Might be too late by then.
“which described blog sites as often “highly partisan” and “highly offensive and personally abusive”.
“It is not a means for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observation on news”
(1) If a journalist has promised an informant not to disclose the informant’s identity, neither the journalist nor his or her employer is compellable in a civil or criminal proceeding to answer any question or produce any document that would disclose the identity of the informant or enable that identity to be discovered.
(2) A Judge of the High Court may order that subsection (1) is not to apply if satisfied by a party to a civil or criminal proceeding that, having regard to the issues to be determined in that proceeding, the public interest in the disclosure of evidence of the identity of the informant outweighs—
- (a) any likely adverse effect of the disclosure on the informant or any other person; and
- (b) the public interest in the communication of facts and opinion to the public by the news media and, accordingly also, in the ability of the news media to access sources of facts.
(3) The Judge may make the order subject to any terms and conditions that the Judge thinks appropriate.
(4) This section does not affect the power or authority of the House of Representatives.
(5) In this section,—
informant means a person who gives information to a journalist in the normal course of the journalist’s work in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium
journalist means a person who in the normal course of that person’s work may be given information by an informant in the expectation that the information may be published in a news medium
news medium means a medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news
public interest in the disclosure of evidence includes, in a criminal proceeding, the defendant’s right to present an effective defence.
Whilst there are undoubtedly those who would love to see Slater and his blog www.whaleoil.co.nz come to a sticky end the facts remain that the blog has been around for years, is widely read by its target readership, widely accepted and quoted by all other New Zealand mainstream media outlets who all obviously see the blog as a reliable source of reporting, news and opinion and was recently declared New Zealand’s most popular blog. The Heralds article today is little more than we’ve come to expect from a jealous befuddled rival who only three days ago were promoting Slaters fame so as to sell there own rag. In our view Slaters blog, whether you like his spin, views and opinions or not, fits entirely within the acts description of a news medium – “a medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news”.
For Judge Blackie to have drawn any other conclusion is at best mystifying at worst very sinister, and extremely concerning. The Evidence Act 2006, which Blackie relies on, mentions nothing whatsoever about the style, offensive or not, politically correct or not, in which the reporting of news and or opinion are to be, or should be, delivered. The Law Commissions report News Media Meets ‘New Media’ is just that, a report, it is not law nor is it a legal ‘authority’ or ‘precedent’.
Blomfield applied to have Slater jailed for contempt of court for refusing to comply with the earlier order of Judge Blackie. – Judge Gittos said this would not be appropriate.
The only blogger that we have come across so far that has taken a balanced approach to Slaters predicament and the real issues that should subsequently have been raised is the blog “Your New Zealand” who raise similar concerns to LF in their post:
Yes, blogs can be highly partisan – main stream media is often accused of being that too.
Yes, blogs can often be highly offensive and personally abusive. Including the Whale Oil blog, but it is often also “a means for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observation on news”.
While Whale Oil may at times be offensive and abusive that shouldn’t eliminate the blog from being a disseminator of news and observation on news – I think Slater’s blog clearly fits that role at times…………
NZH also confusingly mixes Len Brown in their story but the Auckland mayor appears to have nothing to do with this ruling, unless they are hinting at something here:
“The ruling could open the floodgates for others to sue the right-wing blogger for defamation to find out who has given him information”
This will be of interest and could be a concern for other bloggers.
Read more: http://yournz.org/2013/12/01/whale-oil-judged-to-be-not-a-news-medium/
Meanwhile the battle is unfolding on Slaters blog with Slater granting Blomfield a right of reply and Blomfield threatening to seek further applications for contempt – Mr Blomfield should exercise caution, least he be declared a vexatious litigant
Matthew Blomfield – Right of Reply [UNEDITED]by Cameron Slater on December 1, 2013
Matthew Blomfield responds, it is unedited and in full. [For my own protection I have taken Screenshots of his comment]
Firstly the email referred to in this post was a private email to Warren Powell previously of Hell Pizza. It was a Joke and was taken off the Hard Drive that Mr Slater stole from me.
This case is still before the Courts so I don’t want to comment on specifics. However, I would make two points:
The key issue argued today strikes at the very heart of our judicial system: the legitimacy and integrity of the judicial process itself. Whether defendant or plaintiff, civil or criminal, we have to recognise the authority of the Court to make orders, obtain pertinent and relevant information and make judgments using all relevant facts.
This man has a history of flouting the rules that the rest of us abide by. He has dismissed previous contempt findings as being ‘slapped with a wet bus ticket’. Financial penalties are apparently willingly paid by others.
Justice may be blind, but she is not to be trifled with – even when you are the somewhat troubled scion (skee-on) of a National Party president.
This case is about one man’s right to sit in judgment upon another. And it is also, I dare say, about what qualifies as ‘journalism’. One man giggling over his keyboard in a smoke-filled room does not a journalist make. Even if a large number of people visit his site to have their own questionable opinions validated by his.
That is afterall, why you visit a blog site. You identify in some way with the writer, not necessarily the content. This man is a product of the Internet. Before it he was nothing, and without it he is nothing. It has allowed him and countless others to attract followers who share their view of the world, no matter how warped. He is not the product of any school of journalism and nor is he the holder of any certificate, diploma or degree attesting to any course of study in journalism–which is why he lacks even a basic understanding of the legal and ethical framework that underpins the practice of journalism – and the duties of care that come with it.
He doesn’t check facts. He doesn’t research, investigate, or otherwise seek balance. He has no regard for anyone’s rights except his own. He has no time for anyone whose views don’t accord with his own.
He takes other peoples stories – whether news or otherwise – and comments on them. He gives us the benefit of his opinion. That’s all.
And yet he comes into Court attempting to claim rights and privileges – and defences – that have been hard-fought and fearlessly guarded by generations of journalists and media organisations.
I have researched defamation law. I have represented myself throughout these proceedings. I couldn’t afford a lawyer so i have had to do it myself. But I make no claim to be a lawyer. Mr Slater is no more a journalist than he is a brain surgeon.
This man embarked on a systematic, planned and relentless campaign to destroy me, not just professionally but personally. He thought he could do this with impunity. He was wrong.
Well where do I start with this…let’s go through it from the beginning.
1. Your words, own them Matt. The hard drive is not stolen Matthew, even the Police laughed off your claims, as has the court. you know it wasn’t stolen and I know it wasn’t stolen yet the first statement you make is a lie. Why the Police never charged you with laying a false complaint I’ll never know.
2. Only two points? Look like more to me…and before the courts huh? And yet you comment.
3. I have provided the information you require, you know that, you just don’t accept the answers and are hellbent on revenge.
4. Yep I breached name suppression, I got convicted and I got fined…so what. I also changed the law. I improved New Zealand.
5. What’s my father got to do with this? This is just more attempts to smear people Matthew, it won’t work. I am immune to your distractions.
6. I don’t smoke and your behaviour in business is far from a giggling matter as any one who attends court when I defend this will find out, including now a considerable contingent of media.
7. There is no requirement in law or otherwise for a journalist to hold a certificate of a qualification. It matters not that this is the internet…what matters is that it is a “medium” for the dissemination of news…like it or not that is why people, many hundreds of thousands of people come to my site.
8. Now you defame me…I do check facts. I even publish whole documents to support my research and opinions. These will all be presented in court when I defend this.
9. I break stories Matthew…just ask Len Brown and Phil Goff amongst many. Those stories were broken by me and spread by the media. That is undeniable.
10. And yet the Judge gave me leave to appeal Judge Blackie’s direction. Let’s see what the High Court says shall we?
11. You haven’t done anything of the sort. I bet you don’t even know what contumelious means. Yes you appeared in court by yourself but who owns the company your work for, who has sworn affidavits in your favour, who controls the office you work from, who owns the Maserati parked in your garage and the Saab you drove to court in…that’s right a lawyer.
12. You destroyed yourself when you cut a destructive swathe through Auckland business. It will all be revealed in my defence.
UPDATED: As predicted in my first post Matthew Blomfield has threatened further contempt proceedings in an email. Amongst other things he claims I have not given him a right of reply. As you can see I have. It won’t stop him proceeding with a contempt hearing though. This man does not want the truth told about him.
Update: Slater has published a post scathing of the New Zealand ‘Herald On Sundays’ half-arsed attack piece that would seem to support LF’s assessment:
Heres a little more information on the now discharged bankrupt Mr Blomfield, info that the New Zealand Herald failed to report on in their “balanced story” YEAH RIGHT!, “Businessman Matthew Bloomfield”? Why not try using the term “Failed Businessman”
Hell Pizza boss calls in police over email (NZ Herald)
The Other Side of Hell (Franchise NZ)
Pizza director raided by SFO (Fairfax NZ)
Pitch report: Blomfield confused; TVNZ not amused (Stop Press)
Blomfield back at Hell (AdMedia)
Matt who? Graham Medcalf interviews Matt Blomfield, PR man, marketing consultant, deal-maker and emerging business man.[Profile] (NZ Marketing Magazine; Highbeam archive)
- Whaleoil hoisted by his own harpoon (The Daily Blog)
- Ding dong the Whale Oil’s dead? (thekiwisonfire.wordpress.com)
- Whale Oil is New Zealand’s most popular blog (nzherald.co.nz)
- Judge rebuffs Whale Oil, orders blogger to reveal sources (nzherald.co.nz)