NRT: Gagging Kim Dotcom

Written By: - Date published: 11:20 am, March 27th, 2014 - 18 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn put this up on tuesday. It is worth re-running it to note how a smear campaign operates at multiple layers.

Since their botched raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion last year, the New Zealand government has faced a PR problem over their handling of the case. And that has been hammered home at every opportunity by Dotcom himself, who turns out to be quite good at winning the hearts of ordinary kiwis. But now the government has a solution: gag him:

Crown lawyers have suggested Kim Dotcom should be gagged from commenting publicly on the legal action against him.

At a hearing at the High Court in Auckland on Monday, Crown lawyer Kristy McDonald took issue with comments the internet businessman had made on the social media site Twitter.

She told the court many of the tweets were scurrilous and risked undermining the court process.

That’s our government’s view of how the justice system should work: they get to persecute you, and you don’t get to complain about it to anyone.

But while it would be undoubtedly convenient for Crown Law, its hard to see how a gag order on Dotcom would be consistent with the Bill of Rights Act’s affirmation of freedom of expression. And while that right can be limited to protect the judicial process, with no jury involved, its hard to see how that could apply. The only “benefit” to such a gag-order would be to reduce public scrutiny of the government and reduce their bad PR. And that doesn’t seem to be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” at all.

18 comments on “NRT: Gagging Kim Dotcom”

  1. captain hook 1

    I dont really give a shit about dotcom but I respect his right to a fair hearing and his right to take part in the political process. That he is now the vicitim of a smear campaign is beyond doubt but what I would like to know is who enticed him here in the first place. If that were known then I think we would know the reason for wail boils antipathy and efforts to gag him.

    • Tracey 1.1

      given the hearings are in front of judge alone and not juries wtf do tweets matter.

      i am with you capt, i dont give a shit about dotcom but i shudder to think that in chasing him a precedent for others in nz could be set for bad behaviour.

  2. Wayne 2

    It depends what KDC is saying in his Tweets, (and I don’t actually know what he is saying).

    But there is a decision of the High Court from 2004 in relation to Nick Smith that basically says you can’t say scurrilous things about the courts. The statements he made were deemed to be in contempt. He got fined $5000.

    And it is not accurate to suggest the Govt (in a political sense) has any involvement in this. This will entirely be the view of the Crown Lawyer.

    The Law Commission is currently reviewing the law of contempt.

    • geoff 2.1

      True, the National party haven’t quite taken over the court process yet. I expect they will probably do that if they win a 3rd term.

      Its would be very interesting to find out exactly how much involvement John Key, Steven Joyce, Wayne Eagleson etc had in the smear campaign against Kim Dotcom.

      From your experience in National, Wayne, to what degree do JK and Co. get there hands dirty in these sordid little afffairs?

      [lprent: I tend to view “when did you last beat your wife/husband/children” questions as simple flame starters. Not particularly helpful from an author. ]

    • lprent 2.2

      It depends what KDC is saying in his Tweets, (and I don’t actually know what he is saying).

      I gather that the CP were instancing a passage from from court documents in a tweet. About the only thing that you could fit in 140 chars was a sentence. I’d question that doing a fullscale gag of tweets based on a possibility of contempt would be somewhat inappropriate. Telling him not to release quoted sentences would be.

      But there is a decision of the High Court from 2004 in relation to Nick Smith that basically says you can’t say scurrilous things about the courts.

      And I agree with that (we use the same principle in these pages) about commenting on the authors personally or the purpose of the site. However the tweets that the CP appear to be referring to aren’t about the court itself, they’re about the behaviour of the prosecution and the police. I’ve read several.

      I have no particular like for dotcom but I’m scathing about their role. Should I be shut up as well?

      For that matter the courts themselves have been scathing about their actions as well. For instance duplicating data from evidence for the FBI with neither the approval of the sitting court or a successful extradition on the legally dubious charges made against Mega.

      The Law Commission is currently reviewing the law of contempt.

      Can I suggest that mandatory prison sentences for police officers releasing evidence and information to third parties would be appropriate. It seems to be a speciality of theirs.

      • Tracey 2.2.1

        is reading slugslick andd farrar compulsory for national party mps and members? it would explain alot.

      • Sacha 2.2.2

        “However the tweets that the CP appear to be referring to aren’t about the court itself, they’re about the behaviour of the prosecution and the police.”

        So they are trying to claim contempt for the prosecution as contempt of the court? Nice try. And this is the same Kristy McDonald who was engaged to offer ‘independent’ advice on the GCSB’s failings.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.3

      Nick Smith didnt just say scurrilous things about the court- after all he claimed he was a member of parliament and parliament was the highest court in the land.

      An absurdity doesnt really count as undermining the processes of justice.

      What Nick Smith DID did do was influence a witness during a current court case

      And to add to this outrage the national partys catholic mafia went on a personal attack to the Solictor General for referring this incident to the High Court

      • lprent 2.3.1

        Good point. I’d forgotten the details.

        The shameless Nick Smith

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Smith_(New_Zealand_politician)#Contempt_of_Court

        Contempt of Court[edit]
        In late March 2004, Smith was found guilty of contempt of court. He had been asked to assist a constituent with a Family Court case and made a number of public comments which broke the court’s confidentiality rules and was also found to have pressured a witness in the case. Smith’s defence was that he was exercising his responsibility as a constituency MP to aid a constituent and that his public utterances in the matter had served the public interest, but these claims were rejected by the court. The Speaker, Jonathan Hunt, held that contempt of court was insufficient to warrant expulsion from Parliament, as it did not fall within the statutory definition of a crime.

  3. PapaMike 3

    In an extradition case all the Judge has to do is to look at the evidence given by the persons seeking the extradition (US Government, that is already in the public domain, on line for those who wish to look) and decide whether in his/her opinion there is a case to answer or not.
    Nothing else.

    [lprent: Banned for 2 weeks for being a lazy fuckwit making a assertion of fact that is in fact false. The criteria are reasonably complex, but in particular contain this.

    http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/treaties-and-international-law/Extradition-Act-summary.pdf

    involves conduct that would be regarded as
    criminal had it occurred in New Zealand, and
    would have carried a similar penalty

    If you want to make a statement of abolute fact, then spend a few minutes checking it. Don’t be a lazy arsehole asking others for verification without doing your own. And read the policy. ]

  4. Tracey 4

    barry soper surprisingly to me, downplayed the ownership of the signed book on prime news just now.

    the head of the jewish council said he has a copy and its if you believe the things hitler wrote in it that matters. hard to argue with that really.

  5. Tigger 5

    Scurrilous? Interesting adjective. Very ‘Finlayson’ given his florrid style.

  6. Richard Christie 6

    Kristy McDonald is one of the Crown and MOJs’s “go to” * QCs for patsy opinion who recently reviewed Scott Watson’s trial (Hope, Smart disappearances presumed murdered).

    It is salient to note that in Watson’s case his character was systematically assassinated pre-trail by police and patsy journalists such as Cate Brett. Details of such can be read on journalist and author Keith Hunter’s website hunterproductions.co.nz or in his film and book ,Trial by Trickery.

    Also on the website is analysis of McDonald’s made-to-measure report.

    Strangely, she didn’t consider Inspector Rob Pope’s nor Brett’s actions as scurrilous or having had an undermining effect on justice.

    the other being Robert Fisher, who dutifully rubbished Binnie’s recommendations on David Bain’s compensation, and earlier the compensation bid of Rex Haig, after Haig’s conviction was quashed.

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