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Free speech log

By Steven | May 12, 2008

Some upcoming free speech cases:

Electoral Finance Act judicial review: strike-out application to be heard on 15 May. Applicants John Boscawen, Garth McVicar, Rodney Hide, and Graham Stairmand now want the court to rule that the Attorney-General should have advised Parliament that the Electoral Finance Bill was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act, and that the Electoral Finance Act, now that it’s passed, is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. The Crown seeks to strike out both challenges, on the grounds that they are contravene Parliamentary privilege.

My guess: the first challenge (the missing A-G report) will be struck out, and the case will be allowed to proceed on the second (the question of the inconsistency of the Act with the Bill of Rights).

[PS: On Wednesday, the Wellington High Court will hear National’s judicial review application against the Electoral Commission’s decision that the EPMU can be a third party for EFA purposes.] 

Fairfax/Pankhurst contempt: set down for five days in the week beginning 15 September before a full bench of the High Court (two judges). This concerns several Fairfax newspapers’ “Terrorism Files” stories. It is shaping up to be the most significant contempt of court case in NZ’s history.

Important fact from the Crown’s application: the Crown’s case crucially revolves around the papers’ publication of material from communications intercepted by police: material that is (a) illegal to publish, (b) inadmissible in the trial, and (c) pretty damned prejudicial.

Fascinating issue: to what extent will the public interest in the information be relevant?

Broadcasting Standards Authority challenges: TVNZ’s lawyer Willy Akel has two challenges to BSA decisions. One was argued last week, against this BSA decision, a finding that a Close Up story about a suburban brothel was inaccurate and unfair because there wasn’t sufficient evidence that the place was indeed a brothel. The key issue seems to be whether the BSA should have given TVNZ notice that they were looking at concluding that the house wasn’t a brothel.

The second challenge is to this decision (which I discussed here). It’s being heard on Thursday in the Wellington High Court.

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority, Contempt of Court, Electoral speech, NZ Bill of Rights Act | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Free speech log”

  1. otherguy Says:
    May 16th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Can I ask a question that’s slightly off topic? I see on Scoop that the Press Council has ruled against Investigate over its Air NZ story, and ordered the magazine to print the findings in full and prominently. This is considered the punishment, isn’t it — the shame of being seen by readers and peers to have done wrong. But can the Press Council enforce it? What would happen if Investigate refused? (Because they seem to me the kind of publication that might). Has such a thing ever happened?

  2. Steven Says:
    May 16th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    The Press Council tells me that Ian Wishart has taken part in the complaints process, even if he wasn’t technically bound by it, and has indicated that he would be publishing the decision. What would happen if he didn’t? Nothing, except that the self-regulatory system would be undermined to a degree. In the past, Investigate, NBR, the Independent and North & South all refused to participate, but I gather they’re all playing ball now. There may be an element of self-interest: if self-regulation doesn’t work the government might move in and create a statutory body like the Broadcasting Standards Authority.


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