When media break name suppression


In 2010 I thought I could be smart and get my way around name suppression laws by being cute. I failed, and wound up with a few convictions for breaking name suppression.

It didn’t matter that every person I named was a scumbag, or a wife beater, or a rapist. I broke the law and got lined up and rinsed by a Solicitor-General out to prove a point.

At the same time that I was before the courts TVNZ also broke name suppression in the Daljit Singh case, they weren’t even investigated much less charged. It was subtle and it was clever what they did, standing in front of election hoardings of Singh while talking about the person with name suppression.

This week at least two media outlets have breached name suppression again.

I am not going to go into the details of the case because to do so would mean that other people could do what I did to find out who it is that has their name suppressed.

But I will explain what it is the media did without the specifics.

Both Fairfax and the NZ Herald ran a story and the way they wrote it up just made you want to find out precisely who the suppressed person was.   

They are a nobody, I’ve certainly never heard of them and nor would very many other people. But the media sensationalised the story and as a result I went looking.

Media like to play cute around the law, in this case they left enough clues in their stories that it took me less than 5 minutes, one google search and a quick scan of public records to identify all the parties to the case.

I believe that it was deliberate on both organisations part to create a little puzzle that was easily cracked. I at least encrypted the details of one person whom I named…that required a bit of extra skill but I was convicted nonetheless. What these two media outlets did however was far easier and I believe was calculated to cause harm, if not to the suppressed individual then quite possibly to another person unrelated.

It is unacceptable for media to play games like this with people’s lives. They published enough details to make identification easy. That means under the current laws which were changed as a result of my actions, as well as under the old law, they have breached suppression orders.

The media are supposed to hold the powerful to account, but they have become the powerful and who holds them to account?

Look at the actions of Nicky Hager, David Fisher and Matt Nippert, colluding and working closely with a criminal hacker and then claiming public interest after the fact. They essentially aided and abetted a crime. They dressed it up because they had someone they could demonise. In their minds that made their scurrilous politically motivated actions ok…it legitimised their actions. They would never have done it to any other journalist in this country. But they did it to me.

In the case I am talking about those same organisations have committed a crime, they have breached name suppression, but will anyone hold them to account for their actions?

They have created another victim…a nobody, who now has articles smearing and attacking them for their actions and subverting judicial processes. Now it may be that in a subsequent appeal this person will lose their protection of suppression, but these media outlets have taken it upon themselves to be the judge and act unilaterally. That is unreasonable.

They should be charged, and if not the journalists, then the editors who authorised the stories.

They were being cute and they know it.

With media freedoms comes responsibility. If the authorities won’t act then who will?

Who will hold the powerful to account? And who will hold the powerful to account when they are the media?

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.