The Snowden v RNZ case is a classic example of how obsessed and fixated litigants can murk up cases endlessly in their attempts to mount a wonky jihad to “clear their name” or prove that they were right.
In the end, it was a rout. After a 12-year, multimillion-dollar battle that began with a disagreement over newsroom budgets, former Radio New Zealand journalist Lynne Snowdon conclusively lost her Employment Court case last week.
She’d claimed RNZ treated her badly and then dismissed her unfairly. She’d claimed senior executives committed financial fraud then conspired to cover it up.
Along the way she’d made sundry complaints to the police, the Serious Fraud Office, the High Court, the Ombudsman, the Audit Office, the Commerce Select Committee, the Court of Appeal. She had invited a judge to recuse (disqualify) herself because she was biased.
But on Tuesday, the music stopped. Judge Tony Ford, of the Employment Court in Wellington, delivered a devastating written judgment based on an epic hearing that started last September and finished in February.
The judgment crushed each of Snowdon’s three main claims. Her employment grievances weren’t justified. Her dismissal had been fair. There had been no fraud whatsoever. In some cases the “evidence” that was meant to have supported her claims was non-existent.
Before spelling out his conclusions, though, Ford counted up some dreadful numbers. In the leadup to a normal employment hearing, he wrote, there might be a maximum of two preliminary (or “interlocutory”) hearings to figure out some procedural issues. This case had involved 23.
It is almost unheard of for the rulings from those minor hearings to be appealed. Snowdon appealed six of them. The case involved thousands of pages of evidence and exhibits. The hearing was delayed for years, and when it finally happened it took 47 days. It concerned events that mainly occurred over a decade ago. Millions have been spent or are owed.Â Read more »