It has become fashionable in some parts of the right-wing blogosphere, particularly the prickly part in Hong Kong and the oily section in Auckland, to deride Mr Farrar’s conservative credentials and indeed to allegedly expel him from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (though I believe he still has his authentic membership certificate).
One topic however on which Mr Farrar was undoubtedly still strong, vitriolic and fiery was the trial of now-convicted murderer Clayton Weatherston. So strong, vitriolic and fiery was he (and his legions of devoted commenters) that the Solicitor-General actually took a look at the issue before deciding against taking any action against this blog. As a result though, Mr Farrar adopted a much stricter policy about what could and couldn’t appear on his blog during trials.
Today, Justice Minister Simon Power announced “the partial defence of provocation is to be abolished after the Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment bill was passed last nigth [sic].” Weatherston had controversially attempted to use this defence at his trial which seemed to most simply to be an excuse to besmirch the victim and showcase his ego.
In a number of his posts Mr Farrar stressed he did not know Clayton Weatherston or his victim Sophie Elliott.
Well, I did know Clayton Weatherston. I worked with him for almost a year.
I worked with him at Treasury. I was an analyst, he was the team’s economist. He gave me the distinct initial impression that he had been at Treasury for some time and was quite senior though I was told later he had only been there a few months before me and was a summer intern who had stayed on.
His role was to support the policy team with economic advice and expertise though I saw little evidence of this. He always seemed to be working on ill-defined special projects which no one else knew about. He was very quiet, kept to himself mostly but was not unpleasant.
In one of our rare conversations, he talked quite excitedly about being the Shaq the Cat mascot in Dunedin for several years. He got letters from Shaquille O’Neal’s lawyers telling him to stop breaking copyright and was warned by the Police for inciting opposition fans with obscene gestures involving his tail.
This seemed highly out of character for the quiet, almost shy economist I saw at work.
In terms of style, even then he had a haircut that showcased the studied deliberate messiness which only half an hour with hair gel can achieve. He either wore the most casual, hippest clothes or a hugely expensive suit. There was no middle ground in his wardrobe.
He left Treasury to return to Otago University. I think he was studying the economics of sports gambling and seemed to be looking forward to the change. His going away event was low-key and sparsely attended. He rather faded out and I did not think much more about him for many years.
When I saw the breaking news regarding the death of Sophie and the arrest of Weatherston, I was simply shocked and appalled. I had no sense that Weatherston could be capable of such evil. Certainly, he was aloof, faintly arrogant but not the most unpleasant person I had ever worked with. Not even in the top ten.
I cannot pretend to understand why he did what he did. Frankly, I do not wish to.
I can say that I think the fact that Sophie was leaving Dunedin to start work in Treasury was an issue for Weatherston. By all accounts Sophie was extremely smart and personable. It is likely that she would have superseded Weatherston’s limited legacy at Treasury very quickly. My sense is that this realisation would not have sat well with him. Beyond that, there is nothing I can add.