Last Sunday LF ran a piece shedding light on the fact that the court appointed amicus curiae, Miles QC, had come down squarely in favour of Cameron Slater in his written submissions. Miles submissions reflected for the most part the position that LF has held ever since Charles Blackie DCJ had seen fit to attempt to fuck over the Blogosphere, that being that Charles Blackie DCJ, aka “tug boat Charlie”, had erred when reaching his decision on section 68 (1) of the evidence Act, declaring Cameron Slater to be a non journalist, when in fact Blomfield should have filed his application under section 68 (2) with the High Court, the only tribunal that had the statutory powers to hear such an application.
Meanwhile Lynn Prentice, the editor and publisher of the labour party’s online rag was busy doing what he does best, publishing absolute crap. Prentice produced and posted a piece Sunday last that was little more than another ad hominem attack on Slater and his Whale Oil blog. Sure Prentice was attempting to pretend that his story was all about Mondays hearing of Slater’s out-of-time appeal in the Blomfield v Slater Defamation Tort, but it was anything but.
Prentice’s pretense never really manages to get off the ground, LF suspects a clue to why Prentice’s “balance” might have been questionable might just be found in the article’s title, which posed as a rhetorical question is really more of a judgment, with the false accusation being levelled squarely at Cameron Slater;
Funnily enough Prentice’s pretence at presenting something that even resembles a balanced article or opinion descended even further into farce very rapidly. It was obvious to LF that Prentice had either completely ignored the amicus curiae’s legal submissions that were available on LF in favour of what amounted to a vapid piece of shit, devoid of fact that only Prentice, a man that obviously has a deep hatred for Slater, was capable of writing, the sort of self aggrandising prophecy, evidencing that some bloggers are indeed far from “reliable” news mediums, despite the fact they arguably deserve the same protections, in legal terms, as those which Slater hopes to receive in appealing Judge Blackie’s baseless determination.
By: LPRENT – Date published: 2:55 pm, June 22nd, 2014 – 36 comments
Categories: blogs, law – Tags: cameron slater, defamation, journalism, matthew blomfield, whaleoil
The Whaleoil blog is in court on Monday to determine if it is a news media under the Evidence Act. There is a full day session in the High Court in Auckland looking at the appeal by Cameron Slater against Judge Blackie’s decision in the District Court that the Whaleoil blog is not a news medium.
At issue is a question of Cameron Slater being able to protect the source that gave him stolen material to copy. This material appears to have been provided solely to allow Cameron Slater write a long series of posts around 2012 at Whaleoil about the owner of that material, Matthew Blomfield.
Those posts were in my opinion clearly defamatory about the individual Matthew Blomfield. Indeed even some of court documents from Cameron’s lawyers appear to in at least part acknowledge that. Matthew Blomfield rightly sued for defamation.
In his discovery motion to support his case, he wanted to know the source that provided his documents and hard disk to the blogsite and Cameron Slater. I suspect that he saw the defamation emanating not only from Cameron Slater’s keyboard, but also from the malevolence of the source of the material that Cameron Slater was using to concoct his personal attacks.
Cameron Slater denied to reveal his source and was subsequently subject to a judgement in the District Court that he had to supply the source because the Whaleoil blog was not a news medium. Cameron applied for and was given leave to appeal that decision in the high court.
Now I am of the view that it is usually dubious to treat blog sites including our own as news mediums and therefore worthy of the protection of journalistic sources provided under the Evidence Act. The reason is simple.
Blog sites, especially in New Zealand, don’t have the time or resources to check sources of information, provide some balance about news, have legal advice, or the editorial controls that prevent the attacks on people that having a widely read pulpit of a blog site. We seldom have the time or the money to do it. Moreover most blog sites also provide widely accessible comment sections that publish comments by individuals providing feedback that are loosely moderated at best.
I’m always acutely aware of these limitations when administering our blog site. I have to be. There is no way that I want to wind up in court as Cameron has done through something being published on our site.
But the law is pretty clear that irresponsibly defaming any person or any entity in our current law by claiming that a opinion, deeply held or not, is fact is not part of what makes up a civil society. As a personal matter, I really don’t want to do that at a personal level because to make that widespread and protected by law would be horrendous for our society.
However this restraint isn’t that constraining. The Lange vs Atkinson decision back in the 1990s showed the balance point between debates that are in the public interest and those that are not. Having opinions on and speculating about politicians and other people in the public sphere It means that myself and the tens of thousands of others who write on this site can express their opinions about politics,
Sure it is quite feasible to run what is effectively a news medium in a blog style format. The online sections of most acknowledged news mediums here do. However they are characterised by the same levels of control that their broadcast and print relatives do as well. Articles and posts are checked by editorial staff. Dubious sourcing is run by lawyers for risk assessment. In news articles and even opinion pieces, attempts are made to provide fairness and balance. In the event of legal action these are all put in front of the court to show that they were done.
To me, this responsible approach to disseminating the stories and opinions of the day is what characterised a news medium.
Back in 2012, the Whaleoil blog appears have done none of these things. Instead of being responsible about what he was writing, Cameron Slater in his freedom from those journalistic restraints and responsibilities. He stated his opinions as facts and seldom moderated the comments that did the same.
You can understand why. At the time he was under-employed and living off an assortment of insurance payments, sickness benefits, and the odd jobs. Moreover he was, as he has acknowledged, also “demanding” payment from companies and individuals when he wrote posts that were unfavourable to their opponents and favourable to them. In short he was selling his services as an public relations attack blogger. His comments on his blog and other online media like twitter and facebook were that he wasn’t a journalist, he was a “partisan blogger”.
I believe him. His claims to being a journalist only came after he was sued for defamation and asked to disclose his source for the material that made up the core of the defamation. They look more like an attempt to keep his funders identity private before they got joined into the suit than any kind of journalist protecting their sources in the public interest.
It will be interesting to see arguments that Blomfield and Slater present to the court tomorrow.
Here are a few backgrounders. They have links to many other posts.
The Standard – MickeySavage: “Cameron Slater and the protection of journalistic sources”
The Standard – lprent: “I think Justice Blackie got it right”
The Standard – Blomfield: “When the wolf cries boy“
The PaePae – “As playful as he is psychotic”
The Standard – Guest post: “It’s not stolen – I just borrowed it without asking”
Occasionally erudite – “Blomfield v Slater“
Somewhat strangely, albeit we suspect intentionally, Lynn Prentice and The Standard seemed to have left out LF’s many contributions on the Blomfield v Slater case. Our material is after all, arguably, the most well informed and extensive, especially given that we’ve introduced a little something called evidence into the mix. That said obviously Prentice didn’t want evidence getting in the way of his agenda, unluckily for Prentence though we’ve got a little bad news for him and his like-minded guttersnipe political friends, National or Labour…….although not just yet, we’re keeping our powder dry for later.
Interestingly Prentice has noted the contribution of Kiwi blog “Occasionally erudite”, aka Gisborne lawyer Jonathan Natusch who by his own account “spends far too much time pondering politics. Occasionally he also thinks about the law”. Whilst Jono takes a similar position to that of LF he reaches his conclusions despite having obviously been feed a shit load of misinformation, including the commentary of Blackie DCJ.
First, some context. Cameron Slater, at his Whaleoil blog, engaged in a drawn out character assassination (covering around 40 separate blog posts) of a certain Matthew Blomfield. Judge Blackie summarises the case as follows:
The plaintiff, Matthew Blomfield, has brought proceedings against Cameron John Slater, the defendant, in defamation. It is alleged that the defendant has made various publications on a website called Whaleoil, which are defamatory in nature. The plaintiff claims (inter alia) that the defendant contends that he has conspired to steal charitable funds and that he is accused of making pornography, drug dealing, fraud, theft, being a “cock smoker”, a psychopath, a criminal and a thief.
Slater’s information appears to have largely come from a single source, who has delivered to Slater a hard drive containing a large of amount of Blomfield’s personal emails and other information, which Blomfield says was stolen from him. As part of the discovery process, Blomfield (by applications for discovery and interrogatory questions) has tried (unsuccessfully) to discover Slater’s source.
As will become clear later in this post District Court Judge Blackie had been lied to by Blomfield, that and Slaters legal counsel at that hearing was a complete tool, failing miserably to get a handle on what had actually transpired.
The fact is that the information Slater relied on was not drawn in it’s entirety from the now infamous “hard drive”. Nor was it from a “single source”. Blomfield is well aware of who handed the hard drive to Slater and despite that fact he continues his pursuit of the sources identities.
No doubt despite a desperate attempt by Prentice to hide his contempt for Slater he failed miserably. He also fails miserably at any attempt to actually focus on the core issues. Perhaps more significantly he appears to have acted as judge and jury without hearing the evidence from both sides of the dispute.
Prentice has obviously decided who he is backing and for better or worse that is Matthew John Blomfield. LF suspects that it will be a decision that Prentice lives to regret; first and foremost because the opinion’s and arguments Prentice has used to date are fatally flawed, legally, morally, ethically and factually. Prentice will inevitably be judged as having backed the wrong horse; of having been on the wrong side of history, much the same place as his precious Labour party finds itself in at the moment.
Prentice’s mistakes, and his problems, started the moment he granted Matthew Blomfield a soapbox from which to promote his version of the truth. Prentice’s decision to do so was soon after the editor of the Herald had red-flagged Blomfield as a high risk informant.
Prentice must have, for whatever reason, been incapable of reading the writing on the wall. So smitten was he with Blomfield he failed to even check the veracity of what Blomfield was alleging, he just published the crap, complete with the false accusation’s of the notorious Kiwi Head Hunters gangs involvement and the theft of the now infamous hard drive, oh and lets not forget the filing cabinet.
Prentice obviously did not bother checking with the police, in fact we here at LF suspect that Prentice failed to do anything whatsoever in anyway to verify a story that amounted to little more than fiction; the world according to Blomfield. Clearly then it seems that Prentice was just happy that he had managed to locate yet another Slater hater and was obviously more than happy to give Blomfield an open reign.
What is perhaps even more disturbing about this whole saga, and in particular the reporting of both the New Zealand Herald and the Standard, has been the complete and utter disregard for the rights of Slaters informants.
Moreover these two publications in particular have failed to even attempt to investigate the issue at the crux of this story, so wrapped up in targeting Slater, it seems they could not give a flying fuck about the collateral damage caused, of course it’s our view that their failure will come back to haunt both publications in the not too distant future.
Cameron Slater’s not the only blogger Prentice loves to hate however, he and his little band of recalcitrant followers also despise LF and our particular style of presenting the truth, of course that is their right, Prentice and his mates are entitled to dislike the fact that Slater and LF are perhaps similar on occasion, in that we often choose to comment or report on contentious and or unpalatable issues, but thats about the only thing LF and Slater really have in common, the fact that we’re not piss in ya pocket politically correct wankers; thats where the similarity ends.
As far as blog’s go Slater’s Whale Oil and Lauda Finem are poles apart and Lauda Finem could in no way be descibed as big fans of Slater’s right-wing political views and the spin doctored National party crap that he often posts. But having said that, and as we’ve already said often enough, we will stand by the man and his right to express his opinions using his press freedoms, and we will certainly stand by any blogger, whether they are politically correct or not, in fighting to preserve the rights of their source’s and or any promised anonymity they afford to whistle blowers.
A strong indication of where Prentice stands on all of this was very much visible Monday in court. Prentice never once approached Slater for his side of the story, or even comment, Prentice was however seen on multiple occasions deep in discussion with Matthew Blomfield, in fact for most of the preceding Prentice sat behind Blomfield tapping away at his his keyboard, muttering to himself, in desperate need of both a shower and a shit load of deodorant; obviously personal hygiene is not one of Prentice’s personal strengths either.
The impression that LF gets from Prentice’s piece above is that he has inexplicably developed the belief that Slater is guilty of defamation, an allegation that remains just that, an allegation, no more no less, that has yet to be tested in court; the testing of which Matthew Blomfield seems extraordinarily reluctant to get on with; more on that observation a little later.
Prentice twice takes a stab at, undoubtedly for appearances sake, the law by citing, repeatedly, an old case. It’s a case that was totally irrelevant to Mondays proceedings and likely irrelevant to Blomfield’s defamation case, after all was the internet even really that much in use in the 1990’s, no, and blogs were certainly nowhere to be seen:
The Lange vs Atkinson decision back in the 1990s showed the balance point between debates that are in the public interest and those that are not.Prentice opines at paragraph
However, despite Prentice’s referencing of Lange v Atkinson he fails to point to it’s relevance to Mondays hearing, or even cite it correctly, or even offer a link so that his readers were able to read it for themselves and form their own views on the decisions importance or even its relevance.
Strangely no one else, including us here at LF though the case relevant, certainly not to the issue on appeal, that being whether Blackie DCJ had jurisdiction and whether or not bloggers are media, not even Julian Miles QC thought it worth a mention.
The fact is that Prentice was being, as always, a fucking try-hard, a faux pseudo intellectual snob. Prentice has no experience or qualification in law, his views on what should or shouldn’t be argued are all but irrelevant, a fact that is even more abundantly clear when one considers that the stupid prick has yet to have any of his predictions pan out as he has often touted they would.
That fact was amply demonstrated by the look on his face when Slater produced evidence that the alleged stolen hard drive had never been stolen. Of course LF had possessed the document Slater produced in court for months. Prentice’s reality, in this case, is very much akin to that of a goldfish living in a bowl with Matthew Blomfield doing the feeding, more about that later.
Whilst on the subject of reality, it’s also abundantly clear by Prentice’s writing, the expressed opinions and obvious bias, and his closeness, on display during Mondays proceeding, that Prentice having been sucked in to the inescapable void of the “Blomfield vortex”, a force that’s all but invisible until it’s to late and the victim is inside wondering how the hell they got there and of course how the hell they’ll ever escape it, that Prentice himself has unwittingly become yet another victim.
So what has Prentice himself actually done to date that would qualify him to hold any legitimate view on whether or not Slater is guilty of defamation? Well we know for a fact that he has spoken extensively to Matthew Blomfield. After-all he must have gleaned the material he relied on to pen his bullshit pieces from somewhere other than thin air?
But where’s the balance? Has Prentice bothered to speak with Cameron Slater? Well the answer is an unequivocal no. Has he spoken with any of Slater’s “informants”, the people whose safety is allegedly at risk, at least one of which LF know’s was present in court Monday? Again the answer is an emphatic NO.
Given that Slater has so far managed to protect his sources identities has Prentice bothered to attempt to track any one of them down? Again the answer is no. What’s more, given that they’re actually not that hard to find, and if you seem fair minded they’ll even seek you out. That said, have any one of Slater’s sources tried to contact or speak with Prentice? The answer on this occasion is yes, one source in fact did, but did Prentice take the hint or even bother to follow it up? Again the answer is no.
Surely then the question needs to be asked; why exactly is that?
The answers could be many and varied, and really when it comes to Prentice and his reasons for not having investigated this case beyond a series of conversations with Matthew Blomfield one can only rely on pure guess-work.
The reason Slater’s sources have not bothered to contact Prentice, beyond the one occasion, are however available. The fact is that all of those who Slater is now protecting, his so-called “sources” or “informants”, are not interested in talking to Prentice.
Each and every one of them has quite independently formed the view that Prentice is not interested in the truth. As far as Slater’s “sources” are concerned Prentice is obviously only interested in trying to humiliate and harm his political adversary, that being Cameron Slater. So for Prentice this has obviously never been about the truth or even justice, its just about politics, nasty Kiwi politics.
Therefore, using the arguments that Prentice himself advances, could he be considered media? Well if the many bullshit articles covering this story were to be brought in evidence the answer would be no. In this case he’s certainly not behaved like the idealistic media he’s fond of describing, he’s not even acted according to his own professed standards. No verifiable facts have actually been presented, no documents have been produced that support his dubious contentions and conclusions. Prentice’s behaviour has been little more than that of a one-eyed political blogger with one agenda who, like the complainant Matthew Blomfield, see’s attacking Cameron Slater as the only goal.
Prentice has not bothered to offer his readership any insight into Slater’s source’s concerns, their motivations for contacting Slater in the first place, or for that matter whether Slater was justified in posting what he did, and of course by extension whether or not Slater has actually defamed Matthew Blomfield.
Lauda Finem however have only ever been interested in the risk Blomfield’s spurious fishing expedition, under the guise of a defamation tort, has posed to all bloggers who do actually do consider themselves news media, some offering a mix of content, news and opinion, political or otherwise, as does Slater’s blog Whale Oil.
Sure you may not like Slater’s political views, but are his political views really what is at issue here? Again the answer can only be a resounding no. The only three, possibly four matters at issue in this case have been A. is Slater a journalist, B. as such is he entitled to protect his sources, and C. were his sources entitled to protection or even the reasonable presumption that their identities would be protected once Slater had given that guarantee. Of course Prentice canvasses absolutely none of these all important issues. The fourth being the issue of what is in the “public interest”, in the event that the court adopts Julian Miles QC’s argument that section 68 (2) of the Evidence Act ought to be addressed in Asher’s judgement.
It must have come as a shock for Prentice yesterday when the submissions and legal arguments kicked off. It certainly appeared to shock the New Zealand Herald’s David Fisher who began to take notes furiously when one of the sources email’s was being discussed, the trigger for his action seeming to be the slang word #Cocksmoker. In fact if the issues at stake were not so important it would have been hilarious.
Whilst on the subject of David Fisher and the New Zealand Herald on Sunday, yet again these idiots ran a story, inexplicably linking this case and Matthew Blomfield with the delivery boys at Hell Pizza. In fact Fisher, just like his contemporary Bevan Hurley seemed hell-bent on again making Blomfield into some sort of legend, Fisher falsely proclaiming Blomfield an ex executive/director of Hell Pizza.
Blomfield has never been a director or executive of Hell Pizza. Despite Fisher and Bevan Hurley’s best efforts to spin any story associated with Blomfield, he has only ever been a contractor to Hell Pizza. Just like the blokes that made the tomato sauce Blomfield was not the intellectual centre of the Hell Pizza universe that the Herald on Sunday has continued to falsely assert. LF will be bringing our readers a few home truths about what actually went on at Hell Pizza and Blomfields involvement in those machinations in the months to come.
Funnily enough when we had one of our assets point out Fishers mistake to Slater and tweeted it during the lunch break Slater got stuck into Fisher. Slater also during one exchange, having been told that the document evidencing that the Hard Drive had never been stolen, was advised by the court that it was inadmissible because it hadn’t recieved a mention in written submissions, simply threw the document in Fishers direction and advised the Court that he had now given it to the media.
Slater and his sources have had every right to be pissed-off with the New Zealand Herald on Sunday, perhaps not Fisher just yet, but certainly the papers journo Bevan Hurley, who like Lynn Prentice, had clearly taken everything he’d been fed by Matthew Blomfield over the past few years as gospel truth and then printed the shyte. Perhaps that would explain Bevan Hurleys conspicuous absence at Mondays proceeding; obviously the more senior David Fisher had been sent along by the editor instead.
Nowhere in the mainstream media was there any reporting on how the case was actually panning out. Sure www.stuff.co.nz also ran a story wherein they largely focused on the arguments being advanced by Blomfield’s barrister, Matthew Karam, the son of the David Bain crusader and ex footy player Joe Karam.
The truth however was a little different to what the MSM and Prentice had painted. The fact is that Karam floundered around like a fish out of water, gasping for oxygen, and was at times heavily criticised by the judge, Asher J, for what he termed “Fishing”. This also caused a few raised eyebrows, including the bushy brows of both Prentice and David Fisher.
LF have maintained from the outset that this case has been little more than a fishing expedition, with Matthew Blomfield obviously hell-bent on obtaining the names and addresses of Slaters sources, that reality was more than obvious in Karam’s curious focus and pursuit during the hearing.
In particular, LF suspect that of Blomfield’s old adversary, the man who bankrupted him and then set him up as a silent partner in yet another doomed company, Abraham Black Limited (aka Grim Reaper Limited) , is in reality the only target Blomfield’s interested in, Hell Pizza co-founder Warren Powell. This is abundantly clear when reading between the lines of the documents filed in court, oh and some of the shit that Prentice and the Standard have published at Blomfields behest;
I have had access to the court documents that Mr Blomfield has filed in his defamation proceedings against Mr Slater. I am a supporter of Mr Blomfield’s. I have assisted him with his case and the issues relating to Mr Slater. But this is my opinion of the law as I see it, backed up by some very intensive research.
Judge Blackie asked a very pointed question of Counsel for Slater last year during the defamation case: “So did Mr Slater steal the hard drive?” Mr Williams (lawyer acting for Slater) responded: “No he did not.” Judge Blackie rephrased the question: “So you’re telling me that Mr Blomfield gave it to you or said you can have it? I will ask you again, did Mr Slater steal the hard drive?”. Mr Williams did not respond.
After reading this exchange, I asked Blomfield: “How did Slater get the hard drive?” His response: “I don’t really know. One of Mr Slater’s sources, Mr Warren Powell, had it then it ended up with Slater”. I have read Mr Blomfield’s initial witness statement to the NZ Police and this is what he told them then. As always, Slater has different and varied twists in his explanations. None appear to have any legal validity.
LF also suspects that Blomfield is guilty of perjury. By midway through Karam’s oral submissions it became increasingly clear that Justice Asher had also developed the very same nagging suspicion that we here at LF hold, having to pull Karam up for “Fishing” on far to many occasions.
Despite these rebukes, however, and clearly being egged on by Blomfield, Karam kept, ad nauseam, attempting to take the Court and Asher J back over old territory, which of course did little to endear Karam, Asher J wanting to move things along.
By late afternoon Julian Miles rose and began to address the court. It must be remembered that Miles QC was not there to defend Slater, he was present only to aid the Court. That said, little if anything in his oral submissions had changed from that of his written effort, which LF posted last Sunday in an exclusive that both Prentice and Fisher either did not bother to read or clearly simply ignored.
By the closing of Mondays hearing Asher had reserved his decision, LF suspects it could be up to a month before it’s delivered, however of some significance it was further agreed, by consent (all parties), that Asher J and Miles QC would get together and discuss the matter in more depth.
Our take on the hearing is simple. Given the overwhelming material adduced by Slater that amply demonstrated his role as a journalist, the arguments and submissions from both Slater and the amicus curiae, Miles QC, that Slater will be ultimately be formally granted the status of journalist and his Whale Oil Blog that of media, thus the Blackie decision will likely be set aside.
That is as it should be, Slaters role as a journo is after all a reality, whatever his many detractors may be inclined to want to believe, or for that matter whatever the Court ultimately decides.
Slater’s history and the rise of his Whale Oil blog has been little different, other than perhaps for the scale of the enterprise, to that of Arianna Huffington and her Huffington post blog, which also had a long list of political detractors in its early days, a point that LF ensured Slater had pointed out to him; a point that he the apparently ensured was made in closing argument.
Although Arianna Huffington has stated that her paper is “not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news,” representatives of the Republican Party have indicated that they believe The Huffington Post’s headline writers, bloggers, and commentators are hostile to their views and tend to negatively spin articles, and especially headlines, about Republican Party candidates. According to Michael Steel, press secretary for Republican Party House leader John Boehner, Republican aides “engage with liberal websites like The Huffington Post [anyway, if for] no other reason than [because] they drive a lot of cable coverage.” Jon Bekken, journalism professor at Suffolk University, has cited The Huffington Post as an example of an “advocacy newspaper.”
That then leaves the court with the issue of whether Slater’s sources can still expect protection or whether the court will ultimately decide, as set out in section 68 (2) of the evidence act, to revoke any guarantees, implied or otherwise, that Slater may have given his sources in this instance.
This argument is an entirely different kettle of fish, although Julian Miles QC did touch on some of the more important pertinent issues during his oral submissions; not the least of which was the argument of what is in the “public interest” and what has become widely known as the “chilling effect”.
Miles QC also pointed to the crux of the issue. The “crux” of course being the alleged defamation of Blomfield. Miles argued, LF believes rightly, that the issue of the sources identities is in no way central to Blomfield being able to prove that Slater defamed him. And yet for some strange reason Blomfield has been extraordinarily reluctant to pursue that core issue, instead opting, arguably somewhat strangely, to pursue the identities of Slater’s informants, none of which of course are not a party to his action against Slater, thus in any event not liable in the event that Blomfield succeeded in proving his case beyond the balance of probabilities.
Miles QC also pointed out, again rightly, that in any event it was up to Slater to decide on how he defended the defamation tort. i.e. whether or not he brought the said sources to give evidence in his defence or whether he relied on some other available evidence in defence, the risk is entirely Slater’s; the underlying thrust of Miles QC’s argument was relatively simple, it was up to Slater to defend the allegation in whatever manner he saw fit.
So why then has Blomfield kept on at trying to discover the identities of Slater’s sources at the cost of advancing the case of the alleged defamation? Surely Blomfield’s motivation, if genuine, would be a desire to clear his name and prove the allegations that Slater levelled at him false, at least those as set out in court documents such as his statement of claim. What possible use are the sources to Blomfield proving that Slater had defamed him? Again the answer is simple. None whatsoever.
Even if the fucking obvious is not plainly visible to anyone else it’s as clear as dogs balls to us at team LF.
Here at LF we are firmly of the belief that had Blomfield been successful in obtaining the names of Slater’s so-called sources, on the back of the Blackie decision, Blomfield would then likely have immediately dropped the defamation proceedings against Slater.
There are two reasons for our belief that this would have been the likely outcome. The first being that Blomfield will almost certainly not be successful in his defamation claim against Slater, and the second, arguably more significant reason, Blomfield cannot afford, financially, to pursue the defamation case to it’s completion, costs would also likely be awarded against him. Unfortunately for our readers we can not yet share the inside knowledge that has led us to believe the later to be true.
Moreover, it became more than clear, during Mondays session, that Blomfield had seriously mislead his barrister Matthew Karam on the critical issue of the alleged theft of the filing cabinet and the now notorious hard drive. The expression on Karam’s face when Slater hit him with the IPCA letter was priceless. It’s one thing for Blomfield to knowingly commit perjury, but it’s quite another for an officer of the court, lets say Matthew Karam, to mislead a fellow judicial officer, lets say Justice Asher, such as he did during Mondays hearing, albeit a likely unwitting lockup on Karams part.
Despite Blomfield’s attempts to disseminate a fable via the mainstream media, Prentice and the Standard, he knew full-well that the filing cabinet and the hard drive had never been stolen, in fact they were not even his property, even Justice Asher eventually pointed to the fact that Blomfield had not educed any evidence that supported his alleged claim to the property.
It could have been owned by anyone, said Asher. What Blomfield was not aware of, and as aforesaid the judge inadvertently became aware of, was that the New Zealand police had already determined that there was no evidence to suggest that the items in question had been stolen.
This then puts into a very different light Lynn Prentices “guest writers” bullshit piece of 22nd June this year “It’s not stolen – I just borrowed it without asking” probably no prizes for guessing who the “guest writer” may have been. Of particular interest in the defamation stakes is the allegation that Slater dealt in stolen property, in fact Lynn Prentice’s “guest writer” goes on to list the likely criminal offences that Slater was guilty of.
…….as defined in section 2 of the Crimes Act 1961), Slater has committed at least three Crimes Act offences:
receiving pursuant to section 246;
theft pursuant to section 219;
accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes pursuant to section 249;
and accessing a computer system without authorisation pursuant to section 252.
Property provided to Slater copied was “stolen”
To prove that Slater committed the offence of receiving under s246 of the Crimes Act, it is first necessary to prove that the property he received was stolen or obtained by other criminal means, and that Slater knew, or was reckless, about the manner in which it came into his possession.
Whilst Prentice, aka “Iprent” to his online admirers, did not, ostensibly, pen the post, it’s his name over the door of the Standard, when it comes to everything the website promotes or publishes. It was also Prentice who later posted comments in support of the knowingly false claims being made by the “guest writer”, who was “apparently” a close associate and supporter of Matthew Blomfield’s. Of course whoever he or she was is discoverable, not having been a source, but rather an author;
Whilst Prentice in a comment posted on his last article on the subject, “Does a ‘news medium’ consist of spreading defamation, lies and rumours?”, claims that he left Mondays hearing before it’s conclusion LF knows for a fact that Prentice was present in the court when Slater produced the irrefutable IPCA evidence that neither the “hard drive” nor the “filing cabinet” in question were in fact stolen. Team LF have been in possession of that evidence for quite some time, so why wasn’t Prentice up to speed? It was after all available to anyone who cared to ask for it.
Prentice was also present in court when the aforementioned exchange between Karam and Asher, with respect to the filing cabinet and the hard drive occurred. At around 12;43 on Monday Justice Asher advised Karam that he did not believe the hard drive had been stolen, Asher undoubtedly cognisant of the IPCA correspondence, produced earlier by Slater (whilst not allowed to be admitted into evidence), which referred to the outcome of the police investigation, the police being satisfied that no theft had in fact taken place.
During the same period Asher J continued to hammer Karam on the issue of the alleged theft of the hard drive and the filing cabinet, advising Karam that he had seen absolutely no evidence to even suggest that the items were even the property of Blomfield and that he’d seen absolutely nothing that would lead him to believe that Slater did not deserve to have possession of the items.
Whats more Asher questioned Karam on whether Blomfield even owned the items at any point, “maybe Hell Pizza or John Price owned them” said Asher. At which point Karam searched but failed to locate the documents he claimed proved otherwise. Funnily enough no mention of any of this from Prentice in his later online commentary…..WHY?
The fact is that LF has in its possession documents that evidence the lawful release of the filing cabinet to one of Slater’s sources. We also have in our possession a copy of the receipt for the purchase of the hard drive in question, proving that neither were ever the property of Matthew Blomfield. LF would suggest that Lynn Prentice print a retraction and in future make sure that, as the Standards editor, he at least make some effort to check any so-called “facts” in material penned by his “guest writers”.
Prentice then also clearly owes Slater an apology, although we doubt one will be forthcoming. Prentice has not even felt the need to apologise to the Standards readers for misleading them either, again we doubt an apology of any sort will be forthcoming despite Prentice having been proven to be a complete and utter half-baked fuckwit grandstanding labour party cockerel.
Just why is it that Lynn Prentice doesn’t get it? As one canny observer pointed out in discussion with a member of team LF;
“This issue has never been about left or right, it’s all about right or wrong”
Lynn Prentice is a low rent fuckwit with absolutely no comprehension of what was and is at stake, not just for bloggers, but for all media outlets. If Asher, as we suspect he will, rules that Slater is a “journalist”, and his Whale Oil website “media”, then axiomatically Asher will be required to make a further determination under section 68 (2) of the Evidence Act 2006.
This is where the court will need to be very mindful of a number of extremely significant issues not the least of which will be the flow-on effect of its decision. Any ruling that Asher J. makes under the auspices of section 68 (2) in this case, should it depart in any way from established common law, in that it lowers the bar on the protection of journalist’s sources or whistle-blowers anonymity, will then likely have an immediate “chilling effect” on the medias ability to expose wrong doing or corruption, anyone who might have otherwise been considering coming forward and contacting any investigative journalist beforehand will likely think twice before doing so. As Julian Miles QC pointed out, Judge Blackie got it wrong, he was in fact citing an interim Law Commission issues paper then using it in part to justify his bullshit decision. The fact is that the Law commissions final report held a completely different view of bloggers and the recent exponential growth in their numbers, perhaps the poor research can be attributed to Blackie DCJ’s “judges associate“, although its unlikely, Kiwi Judges don’t have associates:
There is ample evidence of the profound and growing influence new media are having both on mainstream media’s culture and content. As we discussed in chapter 2 of our Issues Paper, there are well over 200 current affairs bloggers in New Zealand, some of which have become a rich alternative source of information and commentary. Although primarily a forum for the expression of robust opinion, a number of high profile blog sites are used to break news. Bloggers are also increasingly taking on a watch dog role over mainstream media, critiquing their performance and alerting the public to their alleged failures.
Source: 2013 final report on News Media meeting New Media (p61, para 3.39)
The overall impact would be catastrophic, likely to impact on “news media” and “investigative journalism” in its entirety, not just the behaviour of the so-called bloggers.
That said, LF believes that both Justice Asher and Julian Miles QC are very much aware of that fact, the gravity of whats at stake, and the long-term impact it would likely have on New Zealand’s democracy and it’s already struggling mainstream media.
The simple fact is that bloggers by nature are an extraordinarily determined, flexible and resilient bunch, the blogger behind ECQ Truths is one such example, its creator having moved off-shore, to Switzerland, before the courts could even hand down the pyrrhic victory for the New Zealand government owned seriously corrupt Earthquake Commission. Therefore much like Slater inevitably will, bloggers and their blogs have the determination and inherent ability to continue, they simply move on, off-shore if need be, as in fact Lauda Finem is.
The old media, however, does not have that flexibility and would likely become even less relevant to consumers of local news, with sales plummeting and bloggers popping up to grab even more attention. The flow on effects would be disastrous. For example Fairfax recently shifted its editorial section to New Zealand to curb costs, that decision would likely be reviewed with the jobs returning to the safer, press freedoms of the Australian jurisdiction.
Luckily for New Zealand’s struggling media sector LF suspects that sanity will eventually prevail in this case, that both Asher and Miles QC are more than aware that the names of Slater’s sources are in no way central, or even relevant, to whether or not Blomfield is able to prove to the required civil standard that he was defamed by Slater.
However, that aside, have any of our other media colleagues, including Lynn Prentice, really thought this so-called defamation case through? Looking at the crap that they’ve all felt the need to publish we very much doubt it! Perhaps the Law Commission had foreseen a situation just like this that Cameron Slater and all bloggers now face when it found;
Bloggers are also increasingly taking on a watch dog role over mainstream media, critiquing their performance and alerting the public to their alleged failures.
The “RAW” video below was taken by another of LF’s assets on the ground at Aucklands High Court to witness the birth of some new case law around bloggers and their entitlement to be called media.