Disgusting defamatory smear on John Key via Twitter from Trevor Mallard

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Yesterday at 2:34pm Trevor Mallard made a tweet that didn’t just accuse John Key of being associated with tax evasion, it actually stated he was involved.

I have a screenshot, but the tweet has since been deleted, and I’m not going to repeat what it said.

Suffice to say it was highly defamatory and you would think that an Assistant Speaker of the House would know better than to use Twitter from inside the house to defame the Prime Minister.

But deleting the text doesn’t make the defamation any less.

Worse still he tweeted that during Question Time.

Recently the Privileges Committee issued recommendations on the use of social media by members during parliament.

We believe that our examination of this question of privilege provides a timely opportunity to remind members and others of some existing and relevant parliamentary rules and practices, as well as some significant issues that should be borne in mind when using social media. We recommend that these various rules and practices be compiled to form standalone guidance to be issued by the Speaker (Appendix C). In particular, we wish to clarify any misconception about comments made by members on social media, including comments made from the Chamber. Such comments are not part of parliamentary proceedings, nor are they published under the authority of the House. Therefore, they may not be protected by parliamentary privilege. Members should be aware that anything said on social media is potentially actionable in court. Members should also be careful not to disclose confidential select committee proceedings or reports through any means, including social media. The House may treat any such breach of confidentiality as a contempt. Another potential contempt that may be committed through social media is an adverse reflection on the character or conduct of a member (including the Speaker).

So clearly Trevor Mallard is in breach of those recommendations from the Privileges Committee. Indeed the Speaker’s ruling says;

Although members tweeting from the Chamber during question time or debates is clearly not a proceeding in Parliament, this is not well understood and nor are the House’s wider rules protecting parliamentary proceedings and the various participants in them. Tweets may be actionable in the courts. Members could find themselves held in contempt by the House for publishing a false or misleading account of proceedings or reflecting on the character or conduct of the House or members.

So it appears that Mallard has breached parliamentary privilege and should in fact be referred to the Privileges Committee. Appendix C of the recommendations goes further on Part 4(b):

(b) Comments made by members on social media may not be covered by parliamentary privilege even if they have been made in the Chamber or a select committee meeting and relate to the business of the House or committees. Such comments are unlikely to be part of parliamentary proceedings or published under the authority of the House. Members may, therefore, be held legally liable for comments made on social media in the same way as they are for comments made outside the House.

I think it is time that Mallard was held to account. John Key may not wish to sue him for defamation, but there is the Privileges Committee available for a complaint.

It was an appalling defamation, and one which should be held to account in some way. The fact that he is an Assistant Speaker means this must be taken seriously.

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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.