R v the Internet

December 3rd, 2009 at 11:32 am by David Farrar

The seminar on the and the Courts has been really good so far. You can follow it on Twitter here. It is also being filmed and will be viewable on the Internet.

gave a very amusing and interesting opening address. Referred to how someone once threw a cat at a Judge and the Judge said if you do it again, it will be contempt. It is indexed in law journals as “cat throwing-contempt-one cat allowed-two cats is contempt”.

He also said how relieved he was to find the room full of relatively normal people (ie lawyers) rather than Farrar-like hobbits 🙂

Professor had what I considered a good suggestion that the Courts have a staffer who proactively looks for material before a trial starts that may be pose a risk to a fair trial, and asks voluntarily for temporary removal.

Solictor-General talked about how Internet issues take up a large amount of his time, and the inability of getting Yahoo to remove material. Is seeking an agreement between governments to seek to enforce each other’s court orders to ISPs. There are some risks with this approach, as if publishers are deemed to be subject to the laws of every country they have readers, the lowest common denominator can apply.

said that compulsory filtering only happens in repressive countries like China and Australia. Heh. Said genie was out of the bottle but not sure if it is a problem. Thinks there should be less use of contempt.

QC said he was probably only person in room who has prosecuted for contempt, defended people for contempt, has been charged with contempt himself and in fact appears shortly in the Supreme Court for Vince Seimer over his contempt issues.

He agreed with Steven Price largely and said the law of contempt is fundamentally buggered and only getting at the nutters now. He also said that there is no constitutional significance to modern commercial media as we don’t need them now, as bloggers are the public! Said the press are watchdogs and mongrels. They bark indiscriminately and only interested in food and biting!

Radio NZ Political Editor (and Chair of EPMU Media Committee) said Internet got around censorship in even most sinister regime, so will do so in countries like NZ.

Robert Lithgow suggested all court cases should have a static camera so people can view over Internet, and not rely on the media so much. I agree entirely.

12 Responses to “R v the Internet”

  1. Countess (157 comments) says:

    Did a search of ‘Does Queen use Internet’, while the pop group featured in results, one response was, ‘Does Queen use red or white Dubonnet’

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  2. F E Smith (3,511 comments) says:

    Good to see this is going well. Interesting that the RNZ Political Editor is also a committee chair in the union headed by the Labour Party President!

    I always oppose cameras in the courtroom, especially TV cameras because then some idiot repeater will want to give their take on what is going on for the viewer. However, I agree completely with Rob about the idea of a static camera in courtrooms, both List courts and trial courts, with broadcast over the internet. I would even pay a (reasonable) fee to be able to do it, although I suspect you would get a lot fewer people logging on if that were so.

    The only drawback is that I might never get any work done again!

    [DPF: And thanks for the suggestion of Robert – he was excellent. I told him that he was recommended by an anonymous commenter :-)]

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  3. Tim Ellis (253 comments) says:

    I am surprised Mr Siemer isn’t in jail and bankrupted for defamation for all his slandering against the judiciary.

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  4. ben (2,433 comments) says:

    Edwards leads an EPMU committee?

    That explains a lot.

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  5. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Thomas Beagle blogs on it here: http://techliberty.org.nz/r-vs-internet-first-session/

    Final paragraph:

    In summary, these people know a lot about why they wish to support the principles of contempt, but I don’t think any of them really understand that their opinions may not actually matter in the face of the Internet.

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  6. Put it away (2,883 comments) says:

    “The staffer looking for material” is going to have a hopeless job keeping up with blog posts

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  7. Barnsley Bill (872 comments) says:

    “Radio NZ Political Editor (and Chair of EPMU Media Committee) Brent Edwards”

    FFS………. Political editor!
    The only saving grace is that national radios 12 listeners are probably all left voters anyway.

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  8. Political Busker (231 comments) says:

    @Tim Ellis

    Why it that you presume Mr Siemer’s comments are not true? Surely they need to be tested because they are reasonably worded and weighted allegations.

    Another example – I would ask you note that the present AG is aware that New Zealand’s constitution was seriously abrogated by the 2003/4 then AG the Honourable Margaret Wilson. These matters contain hidden facts that no one wishes to engage because of what they bring – reconstitution – so we let injustice roll along with the active support of its bureaucrats, administrators and media.

    Mr Siemer was bankrupted and put into jail – it is because of his tenacity and outright courage that issue like that of Justice Wilson is pushed into maturity. Without Mr Siemer I very much doubt such necessary exposure to bring New Zealand to justice would have ever commenced. You, as is New Zealand are indebted to him for his prosecution of facts that would otherwise be left to rest.

    I have included correspondence below I have had today with another challenge on how some things will be protected to rest under the surface layer of supposed legal sovereignty and application of natural justice in law.

    From: Political Busker
    Date: Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 11:01 AM
    Subject: RE: Transparency International New Zealand AGM 2009
    To: “Transparency International (NZ) – Paul Browne”

    Thank you Paul,

    declining my request is of considerable concern, given that the Attorney General houses information about the abrogation of New Zealand’s constitution. The argument I present is not denied by the Attorney General’s office but is additionally not prosecute because of its impact relative to the future.

    I can only presume where my request was neither combative, nor intended in any form to constitute threat or demand that the matters of my interest that I represent do not fall within the portfolio or interest of your membership, which would be a statement in the ridiculous. The reasons you give me in reply are not apparent nor obviously how the Attorney General would cover fact transparent.

    Benjamin Easton
    The Political Busker
    LAOS New Zealand

    — On Wed, 12/2/09, Transparency International (NZ) – Paul Browne wrote:

    From: Transparency International (NZ) – Paul Browne
    Subject: RE: Transparency International New Zealand AGM 2009
    To: “‘Political Busker'”
    Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 9:28 PM

    Tena koe Mr Easton

    Your request has been considered and, on this occasion, has been declined. As I am sure you will understand, the Annual General Meeting is a meeting which is principally for the benefit of the members of Transparency International (New Zealand) Inc.


    Paul Browne
    Executive Officer,

    Transparency International New Zealand.
    PO Box 5248, Lambton Quay, Wellington
    P: +64 4 894 9114
    M: +64 21 202 6479
    E: executive@transparencynz.org.nz

    From: Political Busker [mailto:the_political_busker@yahoo.com]
    Sent: Thursday, 3 December 2009 10:10 a.m.
    To: executive@transparencynz.org.nz
    Subject: Transparency International New Zealand AGM 2009

    Tena koe Paul,

    Transparency International New Zealand

    It has been brought to my attention that your organisation has an Annual General Meeting in Wellington on 9th December 2009. I note that on your website you provide an opportunity for non members to attend and that your guest speaker is the Attorney General the Honourable Chris Finlayson.

    As a non member I request the opportunity to attend this meeting. I have considerable interests in the matter of transparency in New Zealand and am directly engaged in matters spanning, legislative, executive, judicial and commercial effect where I would seek greater, if not urgent provisions of access to information for the benefit of the public good. I fundamentally question how our adopted and constituted Westminster system could be in full justiciable function, where present practices and their operation are not limited to and by such necessary purpose of transparency.

    I await your reply with interest and would appreciate an early reply as my diary is particularly full through next week.

    Benjamin Easton
    The Political Busker
    LAOS New Zealand

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  9. lastmanstanding (1,746 comments) says:

    Time the Courts dragged themselves into the 21st century Their previous masonic like secrecy is no longer appropriate in our society.

    Like Political Busker I have a deep suspicion around the Siemer case. All is not what it may appear to be. The Fardell so called suicide has never been explained and there are other shady characters around the fringe of this case.

    The many attempts to prevent disclosure and transperancey lead any reasonable person to ask Why. Some of us can only determine there is a cone of silence to protect important persons from facing the legal system ( its not a justice system far too flawed to be called that)

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  10. Countess (157 comments) says:

    So a journalist belongs to a union. Next there will be surprise that he owns a house, or has children.
    Or as they say on there website
    The EPMU’s Print & Media Industry is the section of the EPMU that represents 3500 New Zealand workers from areas including commercial print, newspapers, print journalism and radio and television broadcasting. The EPMU is also the only organisation that provides press cards and a universal code of ethics for journalists.

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  11. Barnsley Bill (872 comments) says:

    Countess, the membership is not the issue. holding a senior position within the union is though. He is not the cookey editor at national radio you numbskull..

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  12. thomasbeagle (78 comments) says:

    David summarised the first session, I wrote summaries of all four sessions and they’re available here:


    That was my first attempt at “blogging while attending” and I am now in even more awe of David’s prodigious blogging output. 🙂

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