This is an incredibly important ruling…
Hacked emails allowed in Cameron Slater cash for comment defamation case – judge
Blogger Cameron Slater, lobbyist Carrick Graham and former MP Katherine Rich have failed in their bid to have hacked emails excluded from a defamation case.
The High Court has also ruled that Slater and Graham will have to take the stand to be “orally examined” during trial, as their written answers so far have been “inconsistent”.
And all three defendants have been ordered to provide more paperwork to the plaintiffs – a trio of health experts – particularly around what payment agreements were made between them.
The case – in which health academics Douglas Sellman, Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook have sued for defamation – arises from a series of blog posts between 2009 and last year, and was prompted by revelations in the 2014 book Dirty Politics.
…let’s just remind ourselves what this is all about.
The allegations made in Dirty Politics is that Slater was secretly taking money from spin doctors connected to big sugar and the food industry to denigrate and attack public health scientists who were advocating for needed sugar taxes and fast food advertising restrictions.
The attacks were vicious, personal and amounted to hate speech as opposed to a difference of opinion.
What this new ruling says is that Slater, the spin drs and the industry that paid them do have a case to answer in terms of defamation, but the issue is far more important and larger than the personal character assassination of public health academics.
Do we want secretly funded fake news campaigns to be able to derail serious public health issues in favour of commercial interests? Is that the kind of public policy debate we want?
What Slater, the spin drs and the processed food industry attempted here was nothing short of reprehensible tactics of sleaze and viciousness to undermine basic public health science.
Shouldn’t those attempting to warp the debate so big sugar can continue to make billions in profit be punished not just for the damage they do to the individuals they smear, but to the wider community as well?
It’s not just big sugar or right wing political interests Slater was smearing for, it was also climate change denial as Gareth Renowned pointed out in 2014 on TDB…
Has climate denial in New Zealand been bought and paid for by corporate interests? We already know that the ACT Party’s routine denial is closely linked to the financial support the party receivesfrom wealthy free market fundamentalist Alan Gibbs, but revelations of potential PR “hits” by Cameron Slater’s right wing attack blog against youth climate activists Generation Zero suggest that corporate lobbying has stooped to new lows.
In the Sunday Star Times this weekend, Matt Nippert dug into some of the Dirty Politics emailsobtained by hacker Rawshark that did not see the light of day in Nicky Hager’s book. One exchange in January of this year has Katherine Rich — the former National front bench spokesperson, now chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council and a key figure in directing Slater and PR man Carrick Graham to conduct smear campaigns against commercial targets.
…the damage Slater and his Dirty Politics advocates caused is still reverberating throughout the NZ political spectrum. The manner in which he was empowered by the NZ mainstream media has never been examined and no one has ever been held to account.