HoS editorial on Name Suppression for the “Politician”

The Herald on Sunday followed up its story about the “politician” from the leafy suburbs with an editorial about the same case.

The editorial drops some hints as to the identity. Please do not take that licence to guess in the comments…to do so will get you the ban hammer faster than Pete or Travis can swing it.

He is one of the wealthiest men in New Zealand. He supports MPs who changed the law to expressly state that a defendant’s public profile should not, of itself, be grounds for keeping his identity secret.

And, in an acrimonious, multi-million dollar marriage break-up, this man was alleged to have grabbed or touched his wife’s neck, and admitted trying to kick in the door of their home and shouting abuse at her.

But in the Family Court this week, Judge David Burns ordered that the man’s identity be indefinitely suppressed – that anyone who even whispers at his identity be liable to three months’ imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.

Why? It is because his Queen’s Counsel, Lady Deborah Chambers, used a clause in the Family Courts Act to have him categorised as a “vulnerable person”, as both he and his wife had unsuccessfully sought protection orders against each other at the height of the drawn-out, torrid break-up. 

This guy is no more vulnerable than the next bloke, and arguably less vulnerable due to his wealth and power.

Yet, despite rejecting the man’s application for a domestic violence protection order, Judge Burns this week ruled that the mere fact the husband had asked for a protection order was enough to classify him as vulnerable and, therefore, entitle him to ongoing name suppression.

If a person’s application for protection from domestic violence is so weak that it is refused by the court, how can that same court decide that the same application is strong enough grounds to declare one of New Zealand’s most powerful men a vulnerable person? That this man is too fragile to withstand public scrutiny of his actions, to be held to public account?

This is a man who, by the judge’s admission, is not vulnerable in a psychological sense. “He is a public figure used to being in the media spotlight … He is a robust public person.”

It is a farce and joke that this man is labelled “vulnerable”. If he is so “vulnerable” then he really shouldn’t be involved in the rough and tumble of politics.

The man’s estranged wife – whose health problems might have given her a far greater claim than him on the title “vulnerable” – quite properly refused to accept that get-out-of-jail-free card.

She took legal advice from her own QC, Grant Illingworth, and decided she wanted the freedom to speak openly to her friends and, yes, the media about her marriage and the unpleasant way in which it ended.

“She says that this will be therapeutic for her if she can get things off her chest,” the judge found. “She considers that she is not a vulnerable person and does not seek to take advantage.”

Queen’s Counsel Deborah Chambers is the go-to divorce lawyer of the wealthy – she has acted in splits including that of Rich Listers Ken and Robyn Millar, and Craig and Katherine Heatley.

In this case, she has used a legal clause that will enable any person to stop their dirty linen being aired in public, by applying for a protection order, whatever the grounds.

To her client, Chambers is worth every cent of her fee.

The public may feel less indebted.

This decision returns the Family Court to the dark days when open justice was sacrificed to protect the rich and powerful.

The rich, powerful and the connected.

Name suppression in the family court was designed to protect children. There are no children in this case…the only vulnerability is this man’s reputation amongst his political peers some of whom don’t know about his background. Those who do and won’t say or do anything merely condone his behaviour with their silence.

Any politician who wears the white ribbon should be asked what they think of this situation… and more importantly look for those who won’t wear the white ribbon and ask why not.


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  • DavidinDevo

    I have a strong view on Queens Counsel lawyers operating in the family court. My experience is that common sense, fairness and justice are left outside the building, and what happens inside is the verbal equivalent of chess, blind mans bluff, charades and roulette combined, charged at $500-1000+ per hour per participant.

  • conwaycaptain

    All it would need would be an MP to stand up in the House and speak against this name suppression and this is not what it was set up for and name names.

  • OnyaMate

    That burns Judge, its an insult to the photo of the woman with the black eye,
    To say; because a man is in a position of influence and power he is a vunerable person.

    • Photo is from Getty Images: I hope it is a model made up to look bruised not someone who was photographer by a passerby.

      • OnyaMate

        In my mind that photo represents the hidden ones,
        checked it out and it is a model with make up whew

        • Agree. Glad it is makeup and acting.

  • I thought anything in the family court is suppressed by law. Including all mental health act hearings, domestic violence protection orders etc. Regardless of if there are kids or not. Perhaps this is because “The Truth” used to report all the salacious details.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if the family courts were open to the public… to the divorce rate, the nature of accusations, and the way that the courts act.

    • OnyaMate

      I was supporting a rape victim in court 20 years ago the judge cleared the room when the victim was giving evidence
      I did notice the local rag journo was still there and wondered why, found out next day because it was all written in the paper, everything, so unnecessary.
      the victims Nanna was introduced to prozac from that day on.
      Suppression for the rich and famous.
      lots of swear words now forming… gotta go

    • DavidinDevo

      Family court is generally open to public unless judge rules not appropriate

      • Not in my experience: have to deal with the Mental Health Act and that is always secret. I am not a lawyer, but I understand that family court is suppressed: high court dealing with family court matters is not. (That would include the case Onyamate mentioned above).

      • HSB

        incorrect. family court is 100% closed.

        • DavidinDevo

          Apologies.. Chrisgale is correct below. My experience was high court dealing with family court matter. Memory blurs for good reason..

          • HSB

            not a problem – criminal courts are 100% open unless the Judge closes the court – which is often done in order to speak to counsel in chambers or evidence of vulnerable / child witness

  • Completely off topic, the RCMP (Canadian Mounties) have found a pedophile among their ranks. http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/ID/2440825279/

  • Dick Brown

    Well, I didn’t really know who the politician was until that Herald article and with a few searches I found out who the person is.

    I’ll be telling the wife when she gets home that’s for sure.

    Oops, the neighbour’s arrived; I’ll be telling him to.

    • Sidey

      Assuming you’re correct of course, lest the “Colin Craig” standard be applied against you.

      • Dick Brown

        Don’t blame me; this is the courts fault for making me make a possibly-bad decision.

        • YouKNOWitmakesSense

          Nobody can make you make a decision without your permission Dick.

    • mommadog

      Guess I haven’t paid enough attention in the past as I don’t know either. But I hate this kind of name suppression for all the wrong reasons so I will spend some time this evening doing a search myself for the principle of it all.

  • Damien Cavendish

    The double standards are breathtaking –
    1. Only the woman can be ‘vulnerable’; when she applied it was ok, when he does it then it’s just a cynical manipulation of the legal process.

    2. She should be free to tell all (in election year); this would be greeted with 100% belief, no matter how preposterous the stories – “oh what an awful man” and feminists would trot out the usual “every night he was just raping you” blah blah blah.

    3. However were he to ‘tell all’ – and there are always two sides to every story in a divorce – he would be derided from one end of the country to the other as sexist, misogynistic, or making it all up.

    • Callum

      If my guess is correct, she has gone to the media in the past as well.
      Both applied for protection orders, both were declined. Now she seems to want very public payback.

    • Ronnie Chow

      Burns has form….

      “In a number of recent decisions the High Court has criticised a number of orders made by Auckland Family Court judges as “offensive” and “inconsistent” with the Care of Children Act. The judges who made the invalid orders are Judge Jan Walker, Judge David Burns (twice) and Judge Timothy Druce. In awarding the costs, Justice Venning described as “offensive” directions made by Judges Walker and Burns

      In two other recent decisions, the High Court said Judges Burns and Druce had without proper jurisdiction or grounds suspended parents’ guardianship rights.”

      • Damien Cavendish

        Do not get me wrong – I disagree with this whole, rather childish, business; but it is what it is and there shouldn’t be a double standard.

  • caochladh

    If name suppression in the family court was designed to protect children, then surely it is a simple process for the government to address the issue by amending the legislation.

  • HSB

    if an MP (any) was to stand in the house and addressed the ‘vulnerable’ person / named and shamed the politician concerned – would this be subject to parliamentary privilege? (i.e avoid all legal repercussion from breaching name suppression)

  • Teletubby

    I am sure that those people who put this individual in his position know who he is and I am expecting them to remove him. Their failure do so may result in me failing to vote this year.

  • RightofSingapore

    From the Herald article quoting the Judge:
    “My finding that the wife is likely to distort the truth and what she says to media outlets is likely to be inaccurate or exaggerated and as a result she is going to be reported even though it has no relationship with the truth.”

    Also, the bits about espionage, kicking in doors etc, are ALLEGATIONS, I mean its not like people in divorces ever make stuff up is it? What if she just made stuff up? Surely, then suppression protects the man from being damaged by rumors and false allegations?

  • Ronnie Chow

    We are too harsh on these Judges .They are far more advanced spiritually than us mere plebes….

    “No one knows the real name of the Port Hills Groper, the Muslim refugee who stalked and attacked over a dozen women jogging in Port Hills, even though he was arrested, tried and sentenced. Instead the New Zealand court gave him “permanent name suppression” to protect his status in his Muslim community.

    Judge Jane Farish, who had told a Maori rapist who had lured an Australian tourist into a dark street and beat her while trying to tear off her clothing “If I had my way I would release you today,” let the groper off with community service because his actions were caused by “cultural ambiguities.”

    Last year, an Egyptian Muslim cleric was arrested for groping women on a beach. The spokesman for the Dee Why Mosque said that by groping a grandmother pushing a stroller and an underage girl, Ahmed Alkahly had been “showing love and compassion but had misunderstood the cultural differences between Australia and Egypt.”

  • rantykiwi

    The Herald are obviously not serious about complying with the supression order – all the original articles about this matter are still available on their site with plenty of detail which has been supressed over the intervening years. The modern Internet makes supression orders rather like closing the stable door well after the horse has departed – and in this case makes the order even more of a pathetic effort.

    • CommonSense404

      Particularly when it has been such a long and protracted case. It’s a bit pointless. I guess in this case the suppression is probably less about the person involved and more about preventing the aggrieved party from reporting the details.

  • Michael

    If you can’t work put who the “Politician” is from that editorial then you must not have being paying attention to all the other hints they dropped today.

    Certainly the party of that “Politician” should have had a word about stepping back from a public position – if the Judge had ruled in favour of the HoS then they would be severely embarassed. As it is (as Conway captainsays) it will just take one MP to take a call in Wednesday’s General Debate and it will be all over the news that night.

  • rrroberto

    aren’t these supppression orders great when you can download the whole judgement from the internet!

  • Rockfield

    Sounds like a capital bloke.

  • AH9976

    I know that you know who the man is and I know why you’re not naming him. Money has nothing to do with it. It’s all political. Didn’t realise you were such a coward.

    • A coward for not breaking name suppression at up to $100k a pop or something else?

      • Timboh

        Obviously not a nice bloke

    • I have 9 convictions fro breaching name suppression that show I have already proved my courage.

      While you have what? An avatar of a kids cartoon and a pseudonym…who is the one who lacks courage?

      • rantykiwi

        Where does it become a breach of the supression? Is naming his current lady legally acceptable? Or pointing to a related article on another site?

      • AH9976

        My point was simply that you won’t name the person because the person is on the wrong side of the political spectrum. You’re afraid of getting a telling off from your boss.

  • YouKNOWitmakesSense

    Is it Kermadec Crunchy-Wasp?

    • Rockfield


  • Mr_V4

    Makes you yearn for the days of hints in binary.

  • loloud

    A smart politician wraps up his divorce case quickly, unless….? Bullies like to use the Family Court as a weapon and I’ll bet you this case has been going on for a while… So, what does the woman want to do when she doesn’t get support or justice from our legal system – she wants to turn to her kiwi community. Oh, oh, but the Family Court has stopped that too, lest her poor, rich, powerful, vulnerable (oxymorons, anyone?) should be affected. Let’s be honest, we don’t want the gory details of a divorce, but we don’t want social injustice either (some of us). This guy is part of a party that wants our votes this year. If the NP doesn’t take a stand on this, it won’t be getting mine.

  • DavidinDevo

    Nasty business. Well that took about 15 mins of googling to figure it out. Anyone who has been through the courts with divorce knows that its possible to be accused of something that is a complete fabrication, but almost impossible to disprove…. Because no one else was there. But regardless of what may or may not have been said /done in this case, I think it’s a bit rich to claim the guy is ‘vulnerable ‘.

    • opusx

      To be honest…my view after all these years is…who really gives a fuck? I mean seriously, do these losers think they are so important that they need protection? Courts and lawyers, what a farce.

      • DavidinDevo

        I have to admit being v personally biased against ‘system’ ..having seen and felt the effects to the tune of 6 figures ( and ongoing). I have been lucky enough to find one or two good lawyers but it is v difficult to judge ( unintentional pun!) competency until in the middle of it. It’s a weird system but the best we’ve got I guess. My advice to anyone is try and sort things outside of court… Once it gets into legal argument all bets are off and it’s no longer about truth and justice, it’s about what can / cannot be proven…and not only that, but what can be proven relevant!!! Quite different.

        • opusx

          Self importance and the NZ court system are fabulous bedfellows. :-)

          • DavidinDevo

            Ain’t that a fact!! Funny.. I wonder how many such cases would find that the main litigants are strong candidates for displaying Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Quite a few… I say ‘funny’ but I’m only half smiling because I believe it to be true… And in a way, someone with NPD goes to court and then gets an audience to demonstrate just how much of a pompous self important ***** they really are. Grrrr…this used to wind me up.
            These days I find a glass of wine, some exercise and occasional meditation work wonders :-)

        • tesrodnz

          Having been through the mill myself, I can emphasize with you. I’m still paying off an additional mortgage I had to take out for my legal battle (nearly $200K) and will suffer this for a very long time. Part of the reason was the original Barrister (and his associated QC) did little to nothing and charged a fortune, so I changed to another Barrister who had good commercial skills and background so started all over again, but he was brilliant and less than I had already paid out to the other two for the completed case.
          As far as I am concerned we don’t have a justice system, it’s just a legal system where the individual meaning of ever word is picked over and the obvious intent is forgotten in the joy of playing with words.

  • Morrissey

    Sounds like an ACT man.

    • DavidinDevo

      If i got it right i think its much more significant than that (unfortunately).

  • Alan Wilkinson

    The editorial omits the salient reasons the judge gave for his decision – that the woman told woppers and the man had behaved entirely properly and put up with enough crap from her. Apparently you didn’t bother to read the background to the decision either.

    • opusx

      Potato…potarto. It’s just a fight by participants that are too scared to slug it out. She’s a bitch…he’s an arse. One and only result here is the lining of lawyers pockets professing to act in the best interests of their clients. I would suggest all parties grow up, but that would just be childish of me.

      • Alan Wilkinson

        The judge sat through the case and decided who he believed and who he didn’t believe. That’s exactly what he is paid to do. The judgement followed.

  • Weepu’s beard

    The ex-wife sounds a bit high maintenance, tbh.

    C’mon, give us another clue. You’re dying to tell.