Smart work by Spark

September 23rd, 2014 at 10:32 pm by David Farrar

Cameron Slater blogged on Saturday about problems with cellphone coverage and how he was considering swapping telcos to get better coverage.

Cameron blogs how soon after that he got a call from the CE of Spark Home, Mobile and Business (Chris Quin) asking if they can help find a solution. And Quin phoned him from Singapore!

The following day, a solution had been installed.

Obviously Cameron got preferential service, as he has the most read blog in NZ. But that makes the response even smarter. A phone call from the CE has led to great publicity for Spark, and shows their senior management to actually be in touch.

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Cameron Slater and the media

August 30th, 2014 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

Collins2email

This is the e-mail released by the PM’s Office. Obviously it has impacted Judith Collins, but if you read the whole thing you’ll see it backs something I have said consistently.

Cameron deals with a huge range of people, including Labour MPs, Green MPs, and almost every media organisation in NZ. The book only showed you his interactions with people associated with National, but this e-mail includes media contact with no less than four different journalists. One specific quote:

I am maintaining daily communications with Jared Savage at the Herald and he is passing information directly to me that the Herald can’t run and so are feeding me to run on the blog.

Now let me say again that what Cam says in an e-mail is his interpretation of events. I regard Jared Savage as an excellent investigative reporter. But the e-mail does lead to questions being asked. How is media giving Cam stories, different to a press secretary doing so?

Now again what Cam has written is his interpretation. It may not be the literal truth of what Jared was doing. But here’s the thing – you need to be consistent. If you accept everything in the e-mails written by Cam as the literal truth, then the NZ Herald was feeding stories to Whale Oil, which they could not run in their newspaper. If you do not accept those e-mails as the literal truth, then why would you accept the ones about interactions with people in National as the literal truth?

Is the Herald going to say that everything Cameron wrote about his dealings with us is incorrect, yet everything else is correct?

Will other media subject Herald reporters and editors to the same level of inquiry that they have subjected others named in the hacked e-mails to?

As I said I have high regard for Jared Savage. The point I am making is consistency.

 

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People sometimes say jerky things in e-mails

August 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Yesterday there was some excitement over some e-mails from the Hager book which made it look like Cactus Kate had published Nicky Hager’s address so the Chinese triads could kill him, over his work exposing money laundering.

I know Cactus well and she is an unlikely assassin.

The reality is that people sometimes say jerky things in private e-mail conversations. I suspect most of us have done it. I’m sure I have. Go through what must be over 100,000 e-mails from me, and I am sure you’ll find some where I have said offensive and jerky things.

Cameron often says things in e-mails about how the Headhunters are going to deal to this person, and the triads to this person. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen a reference to this. People often boast and skite in e-mail, and that doesn’t mean it represents what actually happened. With Cameron the proportion is perhaps a bit higher than for most of us. Rodney Hide writes in the HoS on how it took him just 10 minutes to check and verify the claims about him being blackmailed were false. Basically a couple of people heard some gossip, talked about using the gossip, but of course never did.

Hence it is easy to take a few dozen of the worst e-mails from someone, and make them sound like they are a major criminal figure, or the such.

Take for example, me. I’m generally not a vengeful person. But if you were tape recording my phone when I worked out that someone had planted a spy into my office (and one that appears to still have been there maybe just three weeks ago), then you would have heard me swearing and promising bloody retribution.

Then 24 hours later I was fine, after going for a run, which is a great way to calm down. But if you had hacked my phone and heard my initial thoughts, I’d look really bad.

I can’t recall if I ever say the e-mails talking about Hager and triads or something. But if I did, I wouldn’t have been taking them seriously. Its preposterous.

When a threat is real, I will take action. A few years back there was a nasty guy who made death threats on his blog against Sue Bradford. His blog was hosted by Google, so no way to work out his identity. I realised he had once or twice commented on my blog, so I proactively went to Sue Bradford’s office and told them I had info which could help identify him. They told the Police who contacted me, and I gave the info to the Police. Sue’s politics are not my own, but I despise political violence. But people mouthing off on e-mail about the triads doing “chop, chop” is not the same.

There’s also been some focus on the case of Simon Pleasants, a former Labour staffer who worked in Ministerial Services, who some thought might have leaked details of ministerial housing. I do remember that exchange, and I said that I knew Simon well, regarded him as a good guy, and do not think he would have been involved  in any way. My advice was not followed, because well Cam doesn’t tend to be the advice taking type.

But also worth putting this in context. It was unfair to blame Simon just because he was a former Labour staffer. But when a former Labour staffer leaks cabinet papers from MFAT to Phil Goff, then people get suspicious of all former political staffers. When people stick spies into my office, I wonder if I need to start vetting my staff (I won’t). What I’m saying is that because of the actions of a few extremists, people like Simon do get suspected because of their former political role. If you know them, like I did, then you’ll say Nah would never be him. When you don’t, and some information has been leaked, then they do become the number one suspect – unfairly. Blame the former Labour staffer who leaked the MFAT cabinet paper as much as you blame others.

So again, people say jerky things in e-mails. I am one of them. I can’t recall anything horrendously jerky from me, but I’m sure if you go through 100,000 e-mails you’ll find some, and they will get published somewhere someday.

Meanwhile it appears the spy may still be in my office. A closer reading of the book reveals stuff from barely a few weeks ago. So he or she has been stealing scripts for many months. Is he or she just stealing scripts? Is he listening to conversations and passing it on. Is he or she trying to access the office computer? Are the scripts going just to Nicky Hager, or being shared with other political parties? How much of my company’s information has been stolen by this person? What fun questions I’ve got to grapple with.

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Editorials on whether blogs are media

December 3rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

A recent decision by a District Court judge that the well-known, some would say notorious, Whale Oil blog is not a news medium highlights the difficulty. …

In a paper on new media published last year, the Law Commission observed that bloggers are often highly partisan, can be offensive and abusive and are not accountable to anybody.

The commission later modified that view to note that some of New Zealand’s 200 or more current-affairs bloggers have become a rich alternative source of information and commentary.

The Whale Oil blog run by Cameron Slater certainly fits the commission’s first description. His commentary on a wide array of topics is heavily tendentious and often gratuitously rude.

His campaigns can also be wrong-headed, the most notable being a wildly irresponsible campaign a couple of years ago against name suppression that resulted in his incurring convictions and stiff fines.

But he also attracts more than 1 million visitors a month, more than the next five New Zealand bloggers put together and he has broken stories that have been taken up with gusto by other media.

These facts, Slater argued in the District Court recently, were sufficient to make him a journalist and his blog a news medium as defined in the Evidence Act.

He made the plea in order to be able to claim a protection provided by the act so he would not have to reveal his sources in a defamation action that has been brought against him. The judge rejected the submission.

While Slater’s blog is miles short of what most people would think of as a responsible medium that should be entitled to the protection of the law, the decision is almost certainly wrong.

Very good of The Press to argue that blogs can qualify for media protection. An unthinkable view from them a few years ago.

The Herald editorial agrees:

Blogger Cameron Slater has been told by a Manukau District Court judge his “Whaleoil” website is not a news medium. This will surprise everybody aware of the Len Brown affair. Whaleoil broke that story and was almost alone among news media in covering the seamy details. Muckraking to that degree might not be to everyone’s taste but if anybody wants to rake it or read it, they have a right to do so. The ruling by District Court Judge Charles Blackie will not stop them but it denies Whaleoil a right asserted by all news media to protect their sources from discovery in court.

The case has nothing to do with the Brown affair. Slater is defending an action for defamation on a different subject. The judge’s ruling is important for its general application to news and comment online, and possibly for the future regulation of mainstream media too.

The ruling does have wide ramifications.

The right that Slater seeks is not particularly generous, or final. If a case goes to the High Court, news media may be forced to betray a confidential source to the judge, who will decide whether confidentiality overrides other considerations in the case. Other jurisdictions give media freedom higher protection. A blogger might not have the means to challenge this ruling in a higher court but it should not stand. News comes in many and varied forms and the courts should recognise it when they see it.

Again, very welcome to see the Herald take this view.

Maybe the Newspaper Publishers Association Media Freedom Committee could consider assisting with the appeal?

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Are blogs media?

December 2nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Media lawyer Steven Price blogs at Media Law Journal:

As the NZ Herald reports, the owner/operator/author of NZ’s most widely read blog is being sued for defamation. The plaintiff has formally asked him whether he knows the name of his source. (You might have thought that the answer to this might simply be “yes”. But I guess there’s an obvious follow-up). Slater has refused to answer on the grounds that he is a journalist, writing for a news medium, and therefore does not need to reveal his source. This rule is contained in s68 of the Evidence Act 2006.

Note a couple of things. First, in order to get this source protection, Slater has to show that his blog is a “medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news.”

Second, even if he is a journalist, that doesn’t guarantee that he won’t be ordered to reveal his source(s). The judge can order him to identify his source on the grounds that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the negative impact on the source and the general impact on the flow of information to journalists. This rule applies to all journalists.

So if you are recognised as media, it does not mean you will automatically not have to reveal your sources. It means the threshold for you to be forced to reveal them is higher.

The Judge ruled:

Whale Oil is a blog site. It is not a news medium within the definition of s68… of the Defamation Act. It is not a means for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observation on news.

Price comments:

The judge gives very little reason for this conclusion. It seems a very questionable one. Whatever you think of WhaleOil, it’s hard to deny that he breaks news stories, and that he writes commentary on news. When you factor in the requirement that the courts are supposed to have regard to rights of freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act when interpreting statutes – and there’s a respectable argument that protecting sources facilitates the flow of important information – then there seems a powerful argument that this section ought to be construed widely enough to encompass at least some bloggers.

It is a pity the Judge gives no reasoning at all. As Steven says, the conclusion is questionable – at a minimum.

Yet another problem is that the Commission’s inclination was to allow bloggers to be included in the regime, on the grounds that it made no sense to distinguish between mainstream media and bloggers when both were serving the interests of free speech. It would have treated anyone as media who regularly published news and opinion of current value to a public audience, providing they agreed to be bound by an ethics regime. This last element is problematic for Cameron Slater’s case. But in the end the thrust of the report is the need to recognise the valuable news-role played by at least some bloggers.

So in the end, the judge’s conclusion is simply not convincing.

Basically the Law Commission actually said blogs should be able to qualify as media, so long as they had a code of ethics and were subject to an independent complaints process like other media.

It gets worse though. The judge goes on to consider the High Court rules. He cites a rule that says a defamation defendant doesn’t have to disclose sources before trial when pleading honest opinion or privilege. The judge says this rule doesn’t apply because Cameron Slater didn’t argue a defence of “honest opinion on a matter of public interest.” This reasoning seems particularly weird to me. The defence of honest opinion no longer requires  that the comment be on a matter of public interest. He doesn’t need to plead public interest: it would be superfluous. It seems to me that this rule surely applies to a defendant who pleads honest opinion, which Slater did. So I think the judge is wrong there too.

All sounds ripe grounds for an appeal.

UPDATE: Russell Brown blogs on this issue also:

But this is really to misread the Commission’s overall perspective on blogs and similar internet publications – which is that they can and do play an important role in public debate. It ultimately proposed a new news media regulator, which blog publishers could opt to join and be subject to.

He also declares that Whale Oil fits the definition in the Evidence Act:

Whatever you think of Slater’s personal style, I don’t think you can reasonably argue that Whaleoil does not do this.

Brown looks at the wider ramifications:

On this site we do not and are not likely to attract defamation actions in the way that Cameron Slater does. But I was threatened with such action this year. I was aware at the time that a discovery order was a possibility if it went ahead – and also confident that discovery would not reveal anything harmful to my defence. Sources weren’t really an issue. But had things been different, it would have been extremely undesirable to have had my rights ruled out on the argument offered by Judge Blackie.

He concludes:

Anyway, Slater is appealing the decision and I don’t need to defend his work in this instance to hope he succeeds.

Maybe people can help donate to fund the appeal.

UPDATE2: Greg Presland at The Standard also blogs:

It may be that for the greater good Cameron Slater must succeed in his appeal.  

Rare agreement across the political spectrum.

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Lengate losers and winners

October 18th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Normally I call these posts winners and losers but in this case there are far more losers than winners. Let’s take them in approximate order.

Losers

  1. Len Brown. May keep his job but not his credibility or dignity. If he holds on he is a lame duck Mayor who will face three years of people tittering about him at public events. No real chance  of winning a third term. Faces weeks or more of investigations into whether there was improper spending, his providing a reference to Chuang etc.
  2. Luigi Wewege. Exposed as a liar, and someone who uses a romantic relationship to pressure his partner into political favours. Now a household name in a bad way. Political future is non-existent.
  3. Bevan Chuang. She’s had her criminal history exposed, her love life, and her employment history, Worse, she did it all voluntarily with a giggling tape recording of her exploits with Brown, and a sworn affidavit. While she attracts a lot of sympathy as being somewhat naive, she also has no political future.
  4. Jock Anderson. Fired as NBR Chief Reporter for writing an editorial supporting Brown keeping his job against alleged instructions for NBR to take a neutral line on the issue.
  5. John Palino. Palino has done nothing wrong, and I do not believe for a second he knew anything of this. However the actions of Wewege have created a perception that will leave doubts with some. An unfortunate victim, who might have been Mayor if the affair had been exposed before the election.
  6. The threatening texter. The person who sent the threatening text to Chuang pushed this issue into the open. A huge backfire. Will their identity be revealed, and who may they damage by association when it comes out?
  7. The voters of Auckland. They have to wait three years (unless Brown resigns) to have their say on whether they found the behaviour acceptable.

Winners

  1. Cameron Slater. As the Civilian points out Whale likes nothing more than page views and visits. He’s had 750,000 page views in two days. He not only broke the story, but covered himself by insisting on tape recordings and sworn affidavits. Cameron doesn’t want to be liked – he wants to be relevant, and this week he has set the news.
  2. Cameron Brewer. Brewer wisely didn’t contest the 2013 Mayoral elections. He must now be a front-runner for 2016.
  3. Penny Hulse. She doesn’t want the job, but if Brown resigns she is the most likely candidate for the left, and could well end up Mayor. Will depend who stands against her.

In terms of the story itself, the Herald reports:

Bevan Chuang is confident Len Brown will be cleared by a spending inquiry in the wake of their extra-marital affair, saying he paid for everything out of his own pocket.

However, she believed that some of the rooms he booked for the pair were offered free of charge by hotel managers. …

Ms Chuang said she met Mr Brown three times at the Langham, SkyCity Grand and Hilton hotels for sex after collecting the keys to the rooms from reception at the Town Hall.

A spokeswoman for the Hilton said the hotel would not give complimentary rooms to Mr Brown, while a spokeswoman for SkyCity Grand would not comment on guests for privacy reasons. A spokesman for the Langham did not return a phone message. …

The 32-year-old former mistress said: “He sometimes takes some time off and goes to hotel rooms, and quite a few times managers would tell him ‘it’s fine, 

it’s on us. We can organise somewhere private for you’.

“He often feels uncomfortable and wanted to go down and pay but usually the manager would [insist] ‘no no, it’s on us’.”

The rooms also came with antipasto food platters and nuts, she said.

Ms Chuang believed the rooms were offered free to Mr Brown so that he could “talk about” and “recommend it” for council patronage.

I think the only thing which might be worse than having had the Council pay for hotel rooms for the trysts with your mistress, was if the hotels were providing free rooms for the trysts. It’s like he’s the Prime Minister of Italy.

Just imagine if Sky City were providing free hotel rooms for Mayoral trysts, at the same time as Len Brown was backing the convention centre deal with them? Hard to argue that is not a public issue.

Mr Brown would check-in at the hotel himself and then arrange for a spare room key to be delivered back to the council in an envelope addressed to Ms Chuang.

Ms Chuang, who also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, claimed Mr Brown used the mayoral car and driver to pick up and drop her off on two occasions when he took her to council dinners as his interpreter.

Again, hard to argue that this isn’t use of Council resources.

In another story the Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay are refusing to answer key questions arising from the mayor’s extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang, including whether he breached the council’s code of conduct.

The two most powerful figures at the council have stonewalled the Herald for two days on whether Mr Brown has broken council rules and what the rules are for council staff having sex in the workplace. …

Mr Brown and Mr McKay also refused to say if Ms Chuang had a council contract at the New Lynn market. She claimed to be paid $500 a week by the council as a co-ordinator at the market.

So if I have this right:

  • Chuang was a Mayoral appointee to the Ethnic Panel – personally appointed and re-appointed by the Mayor
  • Chuang gained a job at a Council CCO after the Mayor provided her with a glowing reference
  • Chuang has a Council contract as a market co-ordinator

Again, makes it very hard to argue this is entirely a private matter.

The questions

Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay have yet to answer the following:

• Did [Mr Brown’s actions providing a reference for Bevan Chuang] comply with the Council Code of Conduct, including the Conflicts of Interest Policy and the guidelines of the Office of the Auditor-General?

• Did the mayor seek advice from the chief executive or the Office of the Auditor-General before deciding to provide a reference or act as a referee?

• Did the mayor provide any other references/act as a referee for Ms Chuang on other occasions?

• Has Ms Chuang been contracted by the council in any other capacity, including the New Lynn market?

• What are the rules around council staff having sex in the workplace?

Len’s now cancelled all appointments for two days in a row. The story will not go away until he fully fronts, and these questions are answered,

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Who might replace Tamihere?

October 11th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald Diary notes:

Last week’s radio survey results yielded little groundbreaking news with both networks spinning their own positive picture about their commercial and talkback stations.

MediaWorks announced RadioLive increased its listeners by 14 per cent nationwide and golden boy Duncan Garner had a 141 per cent increase on his drive show.

That’s a huge coup. However, Willie Jackson and John Tamihere, whose show precedes Garner’s, made few gains.

Sources in radio circles say their afternoon talkback show is likely to be rejigged now Tamihere is plotting a political comeback.

RadioLive bosses told The Diary there are no immediate changes afoot, but “it’s no secret John has never got politics out of his system and who knows what could happen down the track”.

So, who could fill the void alongside Willie? Here are our picks:

1. Cameron Slater – He’s polarising and partisan, but can cross-pollinate via his widely viewed website.

2. Linda Clark – Her school ma’am whip-cracking is TV gold, but she’s unlikely to forgo Chapman Tripp responsibilities.

3. Paul Henry – If he actually liked talkback he’d be a welcome return. He’s in the MediaWorks stable and his TV show is yet to have a start date, so maybe he can be persuaded.

4. Mark Sainsbury – He wants a job in media and is already a contributor to the station.

5. Grant Dalton – Does he have a job? He’s certainly got plenty of opinions, mostly sporting, unfortunately.

6. Anna Guy – She’s desperate to be a media star, but with a fifth kid on the way and limited views beyond motherhood and Feilding farming she’s an unlikely contender.

7. Rachel Hunter – She’s a bona fide media star with a big TV following. But can she make the transition to radio?

 Cameron Slater and Paul Henry would be a great combination. They’d also keep the BSA in full-time employment :-)

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Editor banned from Labour Party conference

November 16th, 2012 at 8:04 am by David Farrar

So Labour have refused media accreditation to Cameron Slater to report on the open sessions of the Labour Party conference, despite the fact he is the editor of a newspaper. At least Muldoon only banned cartoonists!

It’s a strange decision, when you consider how much space Slater as Editor is giving the left in Truth. He has four left columnists:

  • Former Alliance MP WIllie Jackson
  • Former Labour MP Stuart Nash
  • Former Labour candidate Josie Pagani
  • Left commentator Chris Trotter
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Slater on The Nation

November 4th, 2012 at 3:58 pm by David Farrar

A very good segment on The Nation with Truth Editor Cameron Slater, Bill Ralston, Brian Edwards and Rachel Smalley.

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Whale appointed Truth Editor

October 31st, 2012 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

Truth has announced:

Internet shock jock goes mainstream

“Wellington, you’re on notice – be afraid.”

New Zealand’s number 1 news and opinion blogger Cameron Slater has today been appointed Editor of the Truth.

Truth is New Zealand’s last remaining Kiwi-owned national newspaper which this year turns 125 years old.

Slater has been brought on board to fundamentally change the way newspapers deliver to their audiences. Newspapers worldwide are in decline, due, Slater says, to a tired old business model that no longer works.

“We’re not going to spend $4 million on a paint job and then deliver the same tired old paid-for shit.

“Most of the media in this country is weak, and it’s paid for. The integrity in news went ages ago.”

Slater is adamant that the backbone of New Zealand – the people who work – are not getting a fair shake from government or the system. He aims to change that.

“Each and every one of us has got an investment in NZ Inc, and the majority of the people in charge of the place are taking the piss out of our investment.

“We’re going to keep the buggers honest. There’s no better disinfectant than sunlight.

“To use a tired phrase – if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, so Wellington, you’re on notice – if you’re having a lend, we’re coming for you!”

Changes will be rolled out over a period of months and will include both print and a 24 hour news website to support the paper. Slater aims to alter the approach to news presentation significantly.

“We took the pulse of the nation, and it had nearly bloody died.

“No bastard wants to read old news – they can get that online. We’ll be more of a views-paper that promises to deliver REAL news, REAL opinion.

“The people are numb from the eyes down with the diet of PR’d crap they get now. I will not do it to them anymore – it’s not right.

“I assure you – the little paper that could still can!”

There will be further announcements regarding contributors and editorial direction.

Slater’s first issue will hit newsstands on Thursday 8 November 2012.

Congratulations to Cam. That is a huge vote of confidence in his abilities. He hasn’t become most read blogger by accident, and he will bring his tenacity to his new role. A blogger becoming a print (and web) editor might be a first – at least for New Zealand.

I’m looking forward to the first issue..

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Not Peter Burns

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:55 am by David Farrar

Peter Burns has e-mailed to say it was not him, who made the post on Cam Slater’s blog about his mother’s death. A search on the IP address shows it was an IP address never used by Peter, so I apologise to Peter who is a victim of malicious impostering. This means Peter is not banned for life, but he is still suspended until December for other comments.

The IP address, 182.239.239.189, has been used three times within 24 hours of the post on Cam’s blog by the commenter Luke Mutton here. The e-mail address “Luke” uses” is luke.mutton@yourvet.co.nz. It is impossible to prove it is “Luke”, but it is very rare for two strangers to use the same IP address within 24 hours – and both be blog commenters.

A domain name lookup on yourvet.co.nz shows the registrant to be Flair Web Works Ltd, david@flair.net.nz. That company was deregistered in 2007. It’s shareholder and director was David Brindley. The fact Brindley is the registrant for the domain does not mean he is “Luke Mutton”. But it does mean he knows who “Luke Mutton” is – at least.

One of our commenters has posted on Brindley in the past.

The e-mail address david@flair.net.nz used to be used by My Name is Jack, who has been suspended four times from Kiwiblog. Luke Mutton is now banned. I think the same person was also Billy Borker who has also been suspended four times. He has a history of very abusive behaviour.

It is possible that “Luke Mutton” was not responsible for the impersonation of Peter and that awful comment on Cam’s blog, just as Peter wasn’t. If “Luke” wishes to get his ISP, Adam Internet, to contact me and certify that his account was not using that IP address at the date and time the comment was made, I’ll consider that.

I am not saying David Brindley made the comment. I am saying the comment was made from an IP address used within 24 hours by an e-mail address at a domain Brindley controls.

Personally I regard such malicious impersonation to be the despicable. Bad enough to make such a comment, but even worse to try and set up someone else to be blamed for it. Again my apologies to Peter.

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Whale v Pagani

July 1st, 2012 at 4:55 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

Tomorrow I have a special treat for readers.

John Pagani and I will be hosting an hour of morning talkback at NewstalkZB Wellington.

Sean Plunket is away and so we are doing a filler spot for him. It will be no holds barred crossfire from the two of us with talkback.

Unfortunately for Auckland listeners you will have stream it live if you want to listen to me smack up Pagani…again. Wellington listeners can tune in on 89.3FM 1035AM.

Whale and Pagani on air for an hour together should be like sticking a mongoose and a rattlesnake in a small container and watching the mayhem.

Highly recommended listening. They are on from 11 am to 12 noon tomorrow (Monday).

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CTU v Whale

March 16th, 2012 at 9:01 am by David Farrar

Pat Brittenden used to be on NewstalkZB and is now a host on Radio Rhema. He blogs:

Let me start by saying this, I am not anti union. If you look at my record I have supported Union’s causes more times than I have criticized them as can be seen in a post I wrote about the NZEI and National Standards 18 months ago. The interactions and opinions I share now about the Unions and the Ports are solely based on this issue and not a a past of blindly supporting either the Left or Right of this, or any other conversations, about Unions past, present or future.

I wrote a post last week about an interview I did with Garry Parsloe from the Maritime Union but as most talkbacks listeners will be aware this conversation has continued on. Prior to this conversation I had no position on who I believed was right in the debate, and to be honest to this date I would still say that I don’t believe there are any innocent parties here, I don’t believe either side truly bargained in good faith and through obstinate belligerence from both sides we are now at an impasse. For me though the case set before the public now has demonstrated that the Ports in this case are ‘closer’ to being correct that the Unions without the ‘rose tinted glasses’ idea that they have done no wrong.

And now to the specific issue:

Subsequent to yesterdays show we received a call to my producers cell phone from Helen Kelly from the CTU.

Couple of things about the answer phone message. If there has been a slandering of a Port worker I would of course retract and apologise, but from listening to the audio I don’t believe there has been. For me to ‘give [Cameron Slater] space’ on the station being a concern for Helen Kelly is ironic as we have had on Garry Parsloe so many times the news room jokes about giving him his own slot. The opinions and spokespeople for the union position have had far more airtime on my network than the counter view which you heard via Cameron Slater and for Ms. Kelly to say we needed to‘rectify’ the situation implies that we have done something wrong, which I don’t believe we have. I also got the feeling that there were threatening undertones when Ms. Kelly informed us that ‘[we] were liable for that as well’.

Pat has a recording of the phone call at his site.

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A charitable donation

March 2nd, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Did my $1,000 donation today, as promised for the Mallard-Slater race. I said I’d donate $1,000 to CCS if Mallard won or $1,000 to the Mental Health Foundation if Slater won. So CCS Disability Action got the donation.

Sadly it looks like there won’t be a sequel boxing match for me to sponsor/donate to :-)

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Duck wins

August 21st, 2011 at 3:59 pm by David Farrar

Congrats to Trevor Mallard who won the 60 km bike race against Whale Oil by several kms at least. He’s just crossed the line. Trevor has done a very good job of downplaying expectations, and exceeding them on the day.

I did note earlier this month:

I’d have to say that Trevor would be considered the favourite and Cameron the underdog.

Trevor is basically a professional full-time cyclist, an amateur part-time blogger and an occasional MP. He did the 160 km Taupo cycle race in under 5 hours in 2009. Off memory he was in the top 5% of cyclists for his age group.

Cameron got on a bicycle around three months ago for the first time in 10+ years. Now Cameron has been training pretty hard, doing 20 km rides most days. But Trevor used to be able to do 20 kms in around half an hour. Whale does have a slight advantage with the course being local to him.

Now of course the big factor is Trevor’s bike crash and broken bones. If Trevor had not had his injury, it wouldn’t even be a contest. What we don’t know is to what extent Trevor is still injured. The crash was just over four and a half months ago which normally would be enough time to rebuild some of the leg muscles etc. And I suspect his overall level of fitness is still pretty good.

I was tempted to joke about what an achievement it is to beat a sickness beneficiary who hadn’t been on a bike for 10 years, until three months ago, but that would be unfair to Trevor who did have a pretty nasty injury to overcome. Full credit to him.

In one sense I think the race has been a win-win. It gave Trevor the motivation to get back on the bike seriously, and it gave Whale the motivation to get seriously into shape and be better both physically and mentally.

Anyway congrats to Trevor and Cameron, and I look forward to donating $1,000 to the CCS far more than I suspect Cactus will enjoy donating $1,000 to the Labour Party!

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Whale v Duck tomorrow

August 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm by David Farrar

David Fisher in HoS:

In a year of mismatched and painful political races, tomorrow’s is likely to be the silliest.

The blogger known as Whaleoil will face off against the “bovver boy” of the Labour Party in a 60-kilometre bicycle race in Auckland’s eastern suburbs.

In a sport often called “chess on wheels”, the bike race between Cameron ‘Whaleoil’ Slater and Trevor ‘Duck’ Mallard will hear little mention of the word “mate'”.

There is mutual loathing.

That’s a little tough. More opponents than enemies.

The contest came after Slater goaded Mallard by calling him “cripple” over his badly broken leg.

The elder statesman of the Labour Party lashed back, calling the comfortably-padded Slater “blubber boy'”.

“I bet he is too chicken,” Mallard said.

Well, he did accept.

It is worth remembering that Trevor did challenge Whale and call him chicken. So Whale had little choice but to accept.

And Slater – known for obsessively hounding issues – has turned his compulsive nature to the race and cycled about 15kg off his frame.

Best thing Labour has ever done for Cameron.

Slater, who Mallard calls an “obsessive character”, is relentless.

“He is a cripple. And he’s running a crippled campaign.'”

Slater has been in training and, as his physical fitness improved, so did his mental health.

Slater had publicly struggled with depression, and credits getting off anti-depressants, good vitamin B levels and a good diet with the improvement.

I should see if Trevor would challenge me to a half marathon – could be just the motivation I need :-)

Otago University zoologist Philip Seddon said whales in the wild would always be faster than ducks.

“Almost whatever kind of whale you thought about,” he says.

Seddon – who runs the university’s Wildlife Management Programme – said smaller whales were faster.

Slater’s time could, perhaps, dictate whether the blogger was truly small and dangerous.

“Maybe he’s an orca… a killer whale,” said Seddon.

I love how they went to a zoologist for a comment!

The race starts at 1.30pm tomorrow, at Musick Point reserve at Auckland’s Buckland Beach.

If you’re up in Auckland go along to view the fun!

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The match is on

May 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Whale blogs that they have agreed terms.

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A $1,000 pledge to charity

May 29th, 2011 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

On Friday Trevor Mallard got upset that Whale Oil had called him a cripple and challenged Whale to a bike race, saying Whale would be too chicken and if he accepted he would not have a chance.

Yesterday Whale accepted the challenge so long as he can get provided a bike and that there be a second sport of his choosing – preferably boxing or shooting.

Cactus Kate has also jumped in, and offered $1,000 prize money. It goes to Labour if Trevor wins and ACT if whale wins. Kate also challenged me to match her grand.

I’m not overly keen to donate to ACT or Labour, but have agreed to donate $1,000 to charity based on who wins.

My $1,000 donation is dependent on Whale and Trevor actually agreeing to details of the competition (such as whether it is one sport or two) and actually competing. No donation if one defaults and it doesn’t happen. I’d also insist on them agreeing on an independent Judge to determine the winner.

If Whale wins I will donate $1,000 to the Mental Health Foundation.

If Trevor wins I will donate $1,000 to the Crippled Children Society, now known as CCS.

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Whale accepts Mallard’s challenge

May 28th, 2011 at 4:49 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

Trevor Mal­lard has issued a chal­lenge. As is usual for the crip­ple he has picked the one sport he is good at it (if you can all it a sport) and he has also picked on the wrong per­son for a challenge.

So Trevor, I accept your chal­lenge

Excellent, and this will give Trevor a real incentive to get back in shape.

Firstly, I need a bike, not just any bike the same bike you use. We have to race using exactly the same equip­ment. It is only fair. The only dif­fer­ence will be the rid­ers. A Crip­ple vs a Whale.

Sec­ondly, the race will be on August 15 and I pick 60kms for the dis­tance, if you are going to go, go big.

I suspect there will be a large media contingent following the race.

Thirdly, since you picked a sport that you excel at, it is only fair that there be a counter-challenge and I choose box­ing. You men­tioned your “fear” of my exces­sive bulk. I cur­rently weigh 105kg. You stated in the com­ments on Red Alert that if I got train­ing then I would lose 30kg and you’re are prob­a­bly right, there­fore there should be no rea­son other than your cow­ardice for reject­ing a box­ing match 8 weeks after our cycle race.

I understand that the boxing match will be pay per view, and that all proceeds from the match would go towards helping the recovery in Christchurch.

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Mallard v Whale

May 27th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Labour Party Campaign Manager has come up with a genius way for Labour to win the election.

Trevor has challenged Whale Oil to a cycle race.

Now Whale does not have a cycle, and isn’t going to buy one just for Trevor, but I understand he does like the idea of a sporting challenge between him and Trevor. He has proposed two sports, and is willing to let Trevor choose his preferred one – shooting or boxing.

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This will keep the legal profession busy

May 8th, 2011 at 10:28 am by David Farrar

David Fisher in the HoS reports:

A prominent blogger is planning a book exposing philandering politicians to coincide with the election.

Blogger Cameron Slater plans to dish the dirt on male and female MPs from across the political spectrum.

He said he had kiss-and-tell stories from women who claimed to have had affairs with male politicians, including one who said she had slept with three past and present ministers.

Other sources included drivers and security staff.

“If you’re an MP and you’re partying, it’s game over,” said Slater. “The benchmark will be unethical behaviour.”

The book should be called the help keep the legal profession afloat :-)

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McCarten triple flips

September 30th, 2010 at 5:36 pm by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Left wing union leader Matt McCarten has performed a triple flip flop over endorsing a candidate for Auckland Council’s Albany ward.

McCarten formed the website supercitypicks.co.nz to help voters select a left-leaning Auckland Council in the upcoming local body elections. …

But yesterday McCarten withdrew his support for Williams entirely.

“Originally I thought progressives should support Andrew Williams. But my leftist and even centrist mates gave me a biff on two fronts,” McCarten wrote.

“That he’s made his city a laughing stock and  he’s totally self absorbed and even his own allies have deserted him. The other reason is that he knows he had no chance to win as mayor and is deliberately drawing votes away from the only other candidate Len Brown who can beat John Banks.

“Privately he claims to support Brown, yet is helping Banks by not telling voters his real position. On that basis he’s a fraud and shouldn’t be supported by progressives.”

McCarten said Slater was “the only other candidate I know in that ward with any chance of winning”. He said the blogger was right of politics but “has a social conscience, does volunteer work and has a good brain”.

Yep that’s right, Matt McCarten did endorse Whale Oil for Council. And he called Andrew Williams a fraud.

One can only imagine the howls of outrage and anguish on the left. Matt’s own UNITE staff probably threatened to picket him. And so he flipped again:

However less than 24 hours later McCarten had withdrawn his support for Slater and replaced it with a new endorsement. “My progressive advisors tell me I should be supporting John Kirikiri as the best of the rest”.

Position No 3.

But, when Stuff called McCarten today to ask why he was making constant changes to his Albany ward endorsements he said he would be removing his tick for Kirikiri and reinstating Williams as the preferred contender.

“I hadn’t done my homework but I have now read all of the candidates’ policies and have decided Williams is the man for the job.”

He said Williams had been “an embarrassment with his behaviour” but had the best policies “and policies are how we should judge the candidates”.

I disagree with Matt. Policies are important. But so is judgement, temperment, and rationality.

Following his removal from McCarten’s endorsement list Williams let rip on Facebook about the well-known union leader.

“He should know better than to make such irresponsible statements about me a sitting mayor. I don’t even know the man, have never had a conversation with him, so it’s extraordinary that he would comment like that. But very telling that he initially endorsed that disturbed psycho nutter Cameron Slater then withdrew it.”

When Williams does rants like that, the term “disturbed psycho nutter” seems like a form of projection.

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Mayor complains to Police over election statement

September 24th, 2010 at 3:09 pm by David Farrar

Wonders never cease. North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has complained to the Police because he does not like what Cameron Slater says at public meetings. He has also asked the Returning Officer to remove Slater from the ballot, because it seems Cameron is mean to the poor Mayor.

Williams said Slater’s whole campaign was a form of the “stalking” he had endured for over a year.

“He stands up at a meeting and says ‘I will not urinate on a tree, I will not use a credit card in a Takapuna bar, I will not send drunken texts’.”

What makes the Mayor think they are references to him?

“What he has put in his candidate profile is harassment. His whole campaign is focussed on attacking me.”

Yes it is. Labour’s entire 2008 campaign was focussed on attacking John Key. But I don’t think John Key tried to get Helen Clark arrested or struck off the ballot.

Wiliams urged the electoral officer to strike off Slater as a candidate.

Nice to have a Mayor with such a fine regard for elections.

Police confirmed they had received a complaint against Slater but had undertaken not to make comment to the media.

Here are some good question to ask the Police.

  1. How many times in the last month has Mayor Williams e-mailed the Police District Commander urging him to arrest Slater?
  2. How many of these e-mails were sent after midnight?
  3. How many micro-seconds did the Police spend deciding what to do?
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Albany Meet the Candidates Meeting

September 22nd, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I’m in Auckland this afternoon, and going to an Albany Meet the Candidates Meeting. With Williams and Whale both invited to speak, it should be great fun. Come along, if you are free.

It starts at 5 pm in the Dove Theatre at Kristin School (cnr of Rosedale Road and 360 Albany Highway), Albany.

The meeting will hear from mayoral candidates, Albany ward candidates and Upper Harbour board candidates.

Mayor Williams has been talking it up on my Facebook page:

Well, well, well. What happened to Cameron Slater tonight at the Albany Candidates meeting at Paremoremo village? He was a no show. Didn’t turn up. Maybe being that close to a prison was a bit too scarey for Slater, being a convicted criminal as he is now. Or perhaps his WINZ benefit doesn’t stretch as far as petrol al…l the way from Howick to Paremoremo. Maybe he’ll have enough money for petrol to come to Albany tomorrow night. But then again???

Actually the answer quite simply was that Cameron wasn’t invited to speak at the Paremoremo meeting.

Incidentally I checked the timing, and looks like the Facebook post was made just after midnight – the traditional time for e-mails and texts from the Mayor – and now Facebook posts.

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Analysing Police v Slater

September 17th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Have now had some time to go through the 70 page decision, which I blogged previously. There’s a lot of interesting issues there – some of which may affect other bloggers – and even the media.

This case is about whether or not a person behaved in a manner that breached the law and in doing so utilised some of the communications technologies associated with the Internet. It is not a case about whether or not the law should allow nonpublication orders. That debate must take place in another forum.

Such as blogs! The furore over Garrett is another example of the fading power to keep names suppressed. It seems that just because he admitted it in Parliament, doesn’t mean one can repeat what he said with immunity. But myself, along with every media outlet in NZ, decided the risk of prosecution was nil as it was the defendant himself who revealed what he had been charged with and got name suppression for.

And even if he had not, it was inevitable it would have ended up in the public domain, We saw this also in another recent case regard issues around a failed marriage of a political figure – the media never stated who it was, but made it very clear from heir reporting.

It is also to be noted that postings on a blog may come from a number of sources and usually include the administrator or supervisor of the blog site. However most administrators or supervisors of blog sites must hold some responsibility for the comments that are posted.

This is a warning that a blog owner can be held responsible for comments made on their blog. Unlikely to be held responsible if you are unaware of them, but if a comment is pointed out to a blog owner – and you refuse to edit or delete it – then you may face some liability.

This poses some dangers to blog owners. Let us say it is announced a politician got name suppression for urinating in public. Someone in General Debate might say “I reckon that is the sort of thing Simon Bridges would do”. Now as blog owner I have no idea who the politician is. If it turns out to be Simon Bridges, then I may be liable for the comment. If Crown Law contacts me and says you should take it down as it is Simon Bridges, then I’d take it down, but readers might then take that as proof it was him. And it means Crown Law have also spread the identity of the person with name suppression.

SO there may need to be some way blog owners can check out details of suppression orders, if they are to be liable for comments made on their sites. But do you allow all 200,000 blog owners to access some register of suppression orders? That may be self-defeating!

However the “conversation” differs from that which may take place over a cup of coffee or across a dinner table. The first difference is that the material that is posted upon the blog is posted primarily in the form of text.

Thus, unlike a conversation, the blog becomes a record which is preserved and available on the blog site until such time as it is removed by the person responsible for administering it.

And presumably this applies to Twitter and Facebook also.

Even if the blog were to be accessible by means of subscription
with a login and a password it could well in my view be subject to the same constraints.

At first I thought this was over-reach, but I then compared it to the Trans-Tasman newsletter which you need a login and password to access. If they broke a name suppression order, they would certainly be deemed a publication.

The Court has jurisdiction notwithstanding the fact that the server hosting Mr. Slater’s website is located in San Antonio Texas in the United States of America. This is because publication of information takes place where the material is downloaded and comprehended.

I don’t like this interpretation, as it effectively implies that if you publish material on the Internet, you are a publisher in every country on earth. This means I may have broken the laws of dozens of countries with my blog.

I believe that it should only be deemed to be published in the country in which the person responsible resides and or where the servers used reside. Otherwise you risk an Internet which ends up governed by the most repressive country.

Of course I can avoid travelling to certain countries, but I don’t want to travel to (for example) Indonesia and find myself arrested for something I said on my blog about Islam (for example).

In addition the evidence is that Mr Slater posted material to the Whaleoil site from New Zealand thus performing an act necessary for the commission of an offence pursuant to s. 7 of the Crimes Act 1961.

Cameron did not deny he uploaded the material. If the site was registered to someone not in NZ, and the uploading was done by someone not in NZ, then there would be little the legal system could do. Lance Wiggs blogs on ths point:

What if the author of the overseas site is unknown? What if the site is hosted in multiple places around the world? What if the site that received emails and published names was Wikileaks.org? What if there was a global site called NameSuppression.org, with a nz.NameSupression.Org sub-domain? The owners could be shadowy, the location ever in doubt and the publisher untouchable.

It can’t be long before this occurs, and then what shall we do in New Zealand? Block the site as the Australians tried to do with Wikileaks? Go after anyone that links to the site?

The issue of links is also interesting. Back to that later.

Constable Traviss also gave evidence of a “posting” on Mr Slater’s blog which is known by his “nom d’internet” of Whaleoil.

Heh I think we have a new legal term!

The internet allows everyone to be a publisher.

I do wish people would capitalise Internet.

Many bloggers prefer to differentiate themselves from mainstream media and rather than post what may be described as “hard news” prefer to post comment or articles that put a “spin” upon a particular story or alternatively offer an opinion (which may be of considerable strength and sometimes of pungent articulation).

Did Judge Harvey just call bloggers hot and spicy?

One feature however that differentiates a blog from say, a newspaper, is that a blog occupies a continuum of comment where a particular posting or item may start on one day but may continue and develop over a period of time. In many respects this continuum may have an impact upon the context of the publication or posting.

This is an interesting observation, as it meshes with something I had been reflecting on. Newspapers tend to always write stories to be read “stand alone”. So they will mention background context in every story. So even after their 20th story on David Garrett, they will re-state how he is an ACT MP elected in 2008 etc.

Blogs tends to assume that readers have read what they have said previously, and/or that they follow current affairs closely enough, that they don’t bother to supply all the background detail. This may be one reason why blogs are popular – you get to the meat of the issue.

But it does mean, as Judge Harvey stated, that blogs are more a continuum of comment, and posts can’t be treated as stand alone.

That comment seems to suggest that the effectiveness of an order made pursuant to s 140 is limited to publication in New Zealand. That is perfectly correct.

To suggest that a non-publication order pursuant to s 140 would have extra territorial effect is nonsense.

Of course such orders can not have extra-territorial effect, but in terms of futility, a publication on an overseas blog (or even newspaper) is just as capable of undermining the suppression order.

In the present case the availability of the material from a server located in San Antonio, Texas in the United States has little relevance. The evidence before me is that the material was able to be read and comprehended in New Zealand (thus constituting a publication) and the material was uploaded on the Whaleoil blog by Mr Slater present in New Zealand at the time.

What would be interesting is if Slater had a co-blogger who was based overseas. Would Slater as administrator be liable for what the co-blogger writes on a server is Texas? What if the co-blogger was the domain name registrant?

Judge Harvey himself gets into this:

But what of the person (A) who makes a suppressed name available to a person (B) beyond the jurisdiction, and B posts the name on a his or her blog or website in a country other than New Zealand? Without specifically deciding the point, according to the decision of Hammond J in Re X the communication between A in New Zealand and B overseas could fall within the concept of a private conversation between individuals and may therefore would not fall within the scope of s. 140(1).

This is not a definite ruling, but an interesting indication that merely telling someone overseas details of a suppression order might not be an offence. Even if it was, it would be incredibly hard to prove of course.

The fact that the information is available on the internet and accessible to people in New Zealand who may subscribe to the blog or know of the webpage does not present any element of novelty. In 2000 the day after the non-publication order was made in the Lewis Case, Mr. Lewis’ name was published in the Australian newspaper which, a couple of days later, was available in newspaper rooms in New Zealand and probably on the Australian website of the day.

A case Judge Harvey is well acquainted with.

While not relevant to the finding of fact in a particular case, it is relevant to our law makers when reviewing the law.

Following from that is the New Zealand based blogger who may embed a link to the off-shore blogsite which contains the suppressed name. One should be cautious in such circumstances that one does not become involved in “publishing” by way of hypertext link. In the case of Universal City Studios v Reimerdes and Corley, a Court made an order that the defendant’s website was prohibited from directly providing files which contained the DeCSS code which enabled the circumvention of copy protection algorithms on DVDs. When the defendants posted links on their websites to other sites that provided DeCSS either by way of direct download via the link or by means of an extra few websites, the Court held that utilising this device was a “distinction without a difference” to offering a direct download. I have no doubt this point or something like it will fall to be decided in this country in some future case.

This is the aspect that may have implications for bloggers and media. I raised this issue last year also at the R v Internet seminar. Consider a case where say Whale Oil again breaches a suppression order, and this is reported on by media and/or other blogs. In order of decreasing risk, you have possibilities:

  1. You mention Whale has (allegedly) broken another suppression order provide a link through to the actual post which allegedly breaches a suppression order.
  2. You mention Whale has (allegedly) broken another suppression order and provide a link through his blog, but not the actual post which allegedly breaches a suppression order.
  3. You mention Whale has (allegedly) broken another suppression order and on your blogroll you have a link through to his blog.
  4. You mention Whale has (allegedly) broken another suppression order and have no links to his site anywhere at all.
  5. You mention a “notorious blogger” has (allegedly) broken another suppression order.

All of the above actions could lead to a large number of people finding out the name of a suppressed person.

(1) is something which to my mind does cross the line, and would be unwise to do. But how different is that to (2). If you provide a link to his blog, it will probably be on the front page and discoverable within seconds. So (2) may get you in trouble with the law also.

Then how about (3). The only difference between (2) and (3) is someone has to go from looking at the main body of your blog, to the sidebar with a blogroll, and click through to follow the link. (3) is not far from (2) and (2) is not far from (1).

So how about (4) and you provide no links at all, anywhere on your site. Well, 95% of people who do not know the URL of Whale Oil will go to Google, and his blog comes up first. Same thing if you search on his name only. So I am not sure (4) is very far removed from (3). This would mean that every media outlet that named Cameron or his blog, could be at some risk – especially if they have any links at all in their archives to his site.

But what if they don’t even mention his name, or his site’s name at all. Well even scenario (5) can lead to lots of people who will find out the identity of a suppressed name. You see in this example Whale Oil is so well know as the site which has breached previous orders, that there are probably 100,000+ people who upon reading in the newspaper “A controversial blogger has revealed the name of the /musician/politician/sportsman who did ….” that they will know exactly which site to go to to find out, and then of course tell all their friends.

So maybe the only way to stop it, is to have a law where it is illegal to even mentioned that a suppression order exists, let alone it has been breached. But that is draconian, and would not be accepted. So where do you draw the line?

Some of the charges have a name published under the heading “Interesting Name.” Mr Thwaite argues that this means nothing. Mr Burns responds by arguing that one must look at the context of that particular publication taking into account that further information is available on the blog site relating to the case involving the particular name which has been displayed in another place on the blog site.

Mr Burns argues that because the blog is in the nature of a continuum that it is clear to the reader that the name relates to another article on the site and it is merely a matter of marrying the two.

This brings up an interesting possibility. What if you never ever posted on the actual substantive story relating to a suppressed name, and just posted the name by itself?

Or you can find some other way to refer to the person with name suppression. The mainstream media do this quite often. In one story they report an entertainer has been granted name suppression, and in another they report that so and so has been dropped from TV. Will they get treated as a continuum  or only blogs?

Similarly with the pictogram. The information can be decoded in the same way that an aggregation of information may lead to the identification of a person by way of a process of elimination – another form of interpreting a particular code or solving a puzzle. The use of phonetically coded information (which is how the pictogram resolves the name) is not unknown to Mr. Slater. I venture to suggest that the words “Whaleoil Beef Hooked” on the “masthead” of his homepage provides an example.

Ha. I wonder how many times the Judge had to try it out loud with an Irish accent before he worked it out – it took me a few goes :-)

Mr. Slater also maintains a certain amount of control over the content that is published. He was asked “You’ll just publish it anyway?” He replied “If I agree with it. I won’t publish something I don’t agree with” – an ironic answer in light of the freedom of expression argument which his counsel has advanced.

Not really ironic in my opinion. In the comments section, Cameron does allow contrary views to be posted all the time – in fact I’ve never known him to censor a comment. His comments were, I suspect, referring to what appears on the front page or main posts of Gotcha.

The evidence is also clear from some of the posts by Mr. Slater that his campaign was going to go beyond legitimate protest and criticism and was going to enter the realm of “electronic civil disobedience” by the publication of certain names that were the subject of non-publication orders.

I quite like that term “electronic civil disobedience”!

The judgement answers a number of questions about our name suppression laws and will I imagine be cited often in the future.

It does however leave unresolved potentially larger questions for the future – such as liability for linking, and whether communicating suppressed details to an overseas blogger would be an offence. Of course that is because those questions did not have to be answered in this particular case.

I look forward to seeing what changes to name suppression laws are proposed by the Government, in response to the Law Commission’s report.

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