Councillor complains about Kiwiblog

On Monday 20 September I blogged my views on the elections.

Around 12 days later on 1 October, Eastern Ward Councillr sent the following complaint to the WCC Returning Officer:

This email is in relation to information I sent to the Electoral Officer as a candidate profile.

My profile was sent for WCC to circulate on its website to the media, as general information as to who was standing, and for publication in the Candidates handbook.

I did not and have not given permission for my information to be published on the website.

I am also required by the Electoral Act to authorise such publication. I have given no such authorisation to the Mr David Farrar the author and owner of the Kiwiblog website.

I believe his publication under the banner of Local Government Election 2010 on his website is a breach of the act. He tells people how to vote in numerical order, and whom they should vote for.

I do not see this as any different from circulating a leaflet doing the same thing, which was the subject of a recent complaint in Tawa.

I wish information about me to be removed from his website.

Can you please consider this matter as a formal complaint?

The first I knew of this complaint was today.

I should point out at this stage that in my blog post, I did not actually advocate a vote for or against Rob Goulden. I did endorse Simon “Swampy” Marsh and Amanda Nicolle for two of the three spots and said:

The three current Councillors are all quite well known. I’d keep at least one of them on – so people should also support their preferred incumbent.

Ironically several people wanted me to explicitly state that Rob should be ranked in an unwinnable spot. But because of some shared history I declined to do so, and did not state any preferences amongst the three incumbent Councillors. I won’t be as generous in future.

I also provided links to the official candidate supplied statements on the WCC site, allowing readers to make up their own minds on who to support.

Anyway back to the complaint, the Returning Officer responded the same day:

I acknowledge receipt of your complaint and, as required by section 138 of the Local Electoral Act 2001, your complaint will be referred to the for their investigation and appropriate action.

Oh what fun. I’ve been under Police investigation without knowing about it. The Police responded quickly:

Police response on Kiwiblog complaint

The Police very sensibly can tell the difference between an advertisement and a hyperlink.

Anyway I found out about all this today when Rob e-mailed me and said:

Please see the attached. I hope you will comply forthwith and remove my information from your website.

Now I am under no legal obligation to remove the link – it is to a public elections site. And I am bemused why Rob didn’t just e-mail me directly in the first place. But just so Rob doesn’t lose any more sleep about this, I have removed the hyperlink.

But perhaps I should replace that hyperlink, with another one. This hyperlink is to the WCC Watch Blog, specifically (by coincidence) to a blog post they did today on Cr Goulden.

UPDATE: A further e-mail from Cr Goulden:

I sent you an email tonight with the Police and Electoral Officers response attached.

I made a complaint to the Electoral Officer because that is the process I am required to follow.

You published my material without permission, which is why you have been asked to remove it.

For the record in 2007, you also published on your website defamatory material about me. You were told  to remove and you subsequently did.

I note already a defamatory remark made in response to your latest post.

I am not going to be as lenient as I was last time and intend to do something about you and your posts.

I will give you until the morning to remove them and no longer.

I have responded:

I am disappointed you have not learnt anything from this.  Polite requests go down better than threats and complaints.

You have not specified which of the comments you feel is defamatory. If you do so, I will consider your request.

I will continue to blog updates.

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