Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, February 27th, 2019 - 51 comments
Categories: blogs, internet, law, Media, Politics, Social issues - Tags: cameron slater, defamation, matthew blomfield, Professor Doug Sellman, whaleoil
Yesterday Cameron Slater announced on Whaleoil that he was filing for bankruptcy to avoid stress and the three ongoing defamation cases against him (and the Whaleoil blog). His stated reason was based on ill-health and medical advice after a stroke last October.
Yeah right. The problem is, ignoring the whining, that there is a bit of credibility gap when it comes to taking anything that Cameron Slater says at face value. The Court of Appeal appears to have been exploring the medical evidence pretty thoroughly (and coming up short of credible evidence) when examining a judgement from the High Court (suppression order lifted). Both are really worth reading if you are into dry clear description of facts.
Admittedly I am a trifle jaundiced about Cameron Slater and his behaviour after having to deal with him and his dickhead mates in the social media sphere and court for the last decade and a bit. He is in my opinion simply an self-entitled arsehole of the first order and not even competent at being an effective one. Personally I’ve had a number of issues with his actions against this site or me. A standout for me was reading a comment of his soon afterwards on Whaleoil bemoaning that I hadn’t actually died after having a heart attack in 2011 rather than very nearly. It does tend to constrain any tendency I have towards pity or mercy on his current medical condition.
But I’m just one person amongst the many where Cameron Slater was involved in dubious ‘campaigns’. Initially this was mainly within the political sphere that our respective sites largely operated in. What was curious in the political sphere from quite early on was the degree of coordinated attacks that he was involved in. But that is part of the nature of politics.
And sadly I wasn’t that interested in the destructive campaigns that were mounted in selections for National party candidates. It was a missed warning sign – and probably did severe damage to the National Party based on the poor quality of those candidates showing up in opposition now.
But gradually many campaigns, outside of the political sphere, simply appeared to be vendettas for commercial gain or for revenge attacks. They popped up in the most curious of places with the attacks on political ‘civilians’ and organisations.
What was interesting to me was the mounting speculation by the recipients of Cameron Slater’s bile about who was involved in feeding the selective information in these disputes. For instance with the contracts for medical laboratory services by the district health boards in Auckland from about 2009-2012 – the subject of some very weird Whaleoil campaigns.
To me, these sorts of deliberate actions was clearly an abuse of the blogging system. They were well beyond the bounds that could be tolerated both legally and on any ethical or moral grounds. As far as I was concerned using the net to make them made it my problem as well as that of those attacked unfairly.
A few years ago in 2012, amongst many other campaigns, I tracked one against an Matthew Blomfield where the ‘evidence’ of purported evil was at best sketchy using information from a misappropriated and probably stolen hard drive. The posts were massively embellished with obvious lying about what was written and imaginative suppositions. It was a classic revenge campaign being fed by someone other than Cameron Slater. What was astonishing was the level of vindictiveness and persistence of the campaign. It was a pretty obvious paid PR hit.
So after Matthew Blomfield launched the first viable defamation case and got to the point where it was about the role of blogs, a number of bloggers on this site did our personal bits to publicize the facts actually in the public court documents over the last 5-6 years. We did our best to make sure that the case added into the debate on the role of blogging and social media in NZ.
Because there was continued blatant spinning on the case from Cameron Slater on Whaleoil despite the orders from the judges, we also provided some space for Matthew Blomfield to counter the accusations on our site.
The rogue role of Whaleoil and Cameron Slater became more public the anonymous (and still wanted by the law) ‘rawshark’ hack on the Whaleoil server after Cameron Slater’s “public elation” about the virtues of a death of a “feral” west coaster. The pile of bullshit and sleazy deals, abusing the process of blogging, for his personal gain in attacking political opponents and others often as part of paid campaigns then became public as part of Nicky Hager’s book “Dirty Politics”.
So as to today’s news. I very doubt that bankruptcy will achieve whatever Cameron Slater would like it to. The David Fisher article on the announcement in the NZ Herald covered most of the relevant aspects. In particular:-
University of Auckland legal expert Dr Bill Hodge said bankruptcy effectively killed defamation actions.
“Lawyers usually say ‘I won’t get paid and you won’t get costs so why go ahead’. They can’t get anything so why carry on.”
The case would remain active against Social Media Consultants Ltd, which is currently entirely owned by Slater’s wife Juana Atkins
Yeah right. Not in all cases – otherwise few defamation cases would make it to trial. What Bill Hodge doesn’t point out is that typically most defamation cases are settled well before trial as each side lays out their case for the other side and confusion and ambiguity are eliminated, while the risk of liability becomes obvious.
In this set of cases I rather suspect that getting money off Cameron Slater isn’t that large a priority. Any more than the money expended on a case was for me when one of Cameron Slater’s idiot mates tried a spectacularly failed private prosecution and subsequent appeals against me.
Court costs and any awards are pretty effective punitive tools to prevent future repeated bad behaviour. It really doesn’t matter that much if they do it by emptying the losing treasury or by simply bankrupting losing individuals or liquidating their companies. In effect it disperses or makes unavailable the assets that allowed the problem in the first place.
As Matthew Blomfield points out…
The legal battle waged between Blomfield and Slater began in the Manukau District Court in 2012 and has since involved dozens of hearings.
Blomfield said he had refused to give up after the impact he and his family suffered as a result of the blog posts.
“He assassinated my character, drove my family into hiding, caused untold financial and emotional damage.”
The High Court’s Justice Paul Davison found Slater’s defence “fell well short” of providing facts which supported the accusations printed.
Early in the legal process, Cameron Slater fronted by lawyer Jordan Williams (now of the so-called ‘Taxpayers Union’) proposed a monetary settlement. Which Blomfield turned down for precisely the reason of the effect on his reputation and family. The money wasn’t the issue – it was Cameron Slater’s practices that were so vile that they needed to be purged from public life. I don’t expect that Matthew Blomfield will think any differently now.
In the defamation case of the medical professionals from Dunedin against Cameron Slater and others, there are bigger reasons at stake than just the money that Dr Bill Hodge thinks so highly of.
In that case they are claiming that a similar series of attack posts with some rather alarming professional character assassination were researched and paid for by the grocery council via a PR firm. I’d don’t expect that they’re that interested in Cameron Slater’s money either. It is their reputation and potentially that of future researchers that they are defending. The idea that a monied interest group can attack people for doing research rather than dealing with the results of the research is reprehensible and something that needs the fact driven public exposure that the court can bring.
As for Colin Craig. Ummm.. who can tell….
To me Cameron Slater’s personal bankruptcy (while leaving the Spanish Bride in control of the Whaleoil blog) just looks like another pretty badly thought through legal maneuver. Just like reading the details of Cameron’s transparent failures to provide the Court of Appeal of proof of his inability to instruct a lawyer was.
“He claimed to have cognitive and language impairment because of his stroke, but the evidence showed he had none.
“He claimed to be too incapacitated to communicate with his lawyers, but he was simultaneously engaging in political discussions in the comments section of the Whale Oil website.”
Blomfield said the Court of Appeal gave Slater until February 22 to provide evidence supporting his claims of ill-health.
“He filed no response at all. Instead, he applied for bankruptcy. He is now saying his proceedings need to be halted for that reason.
“He is doing everything he can to avoid the consequences of his own nefarious actions.”
Blomfield said “this will not work” and a full Court of Appeal hearing next month would rule based on the evidence.
Neither Cameron Slaters ill-health nor his bankruptcy makes any difference to the legal position that either he or the Whaleoil blog are in – which is shit-street as far as I can see.
This is an appeal against a decision already made in the High Court that Cameron Slater hadn’t offered viable defences against the defamation action. He therefore lost the defences he was relying upon. These are delaying actions aren’t going to convince the Court of Appeal to overturn parts of that decision – only facts and clear legal argument could. But it doesn’t look like Cameron Slater is good at either.
And for the Kiwi public that is a very good place for this case to be.
For in the end the Whaleoil blog needs to be put down. Sites that use the types of tactic that caused these defamation cases are an abuse of the legal system, of social processes, of blogging and above all for the networks that I have been involved in since 1979.
I trust that the plaintiffs will continue, and that they will be supported by whoever can help. They will be doing the public a service to deter vile imators. In the meantime Cameron Slater can help with testifying why the social aberration that was his marketing model was able to flourish . In the proper venue – the courts.