By Steven | December 21, 2009
It seems that a “comedian” has been granted name suppression in connection with charges that he has had unlawful sexual connection with a child under 12, his daughter.
This isn’t some namby-pamby judge covering up for a celebrity. This suppression kicks in automatically under the Criminal Justice Act, I think. Alleged sex crime victims are given name suppression under section 139. This is a rule set by Parliament, not a discretion exercised by a judge. It operates to suppress reporting of the name of the daughter - and any identifying details. That’ll include the name of her dad (because it identifies the daughter).
Free speech absolutists looking to circumvent this suppression might like to think about who they might be hurting here.
And we might not want to be too quick to rush to judgment. I have no insider knowledge, but this account provides some reasons to think the case against him may not be straightforward.
We might also spare a thought for NZ comedians out there. It’s a fairly small circle. Michelle A’Court is on the record saying that the defendant isn’t really a comedian.
Finally, 3 News and RadioLive might like to think twice about their report accusing Carolyn Meng Yee of breaching the suppression by telling Te Radar the suppressed name when seeking his comment.
First, it’s not clear from the story who exactly is doing the accusing. Te Radar doesn’t seem to be doing any actual accusing. It seems to be TV3/RadioLive itself.
Second, it’s not clearly an offence to tell someone a suppressed name. The offence is triggered by publishing suppressed material (or evading a suppression order). I’m not aware of any cases suggesting that this can be triggered by telling one other person.
Thirdly - how to put this? If I were a betting man, I’d lay good odds that there are journalists at TV3 and Radio Live who have told happily passed on suppressed names to friends and colleagues. One would hope they might find the saddle a bit uncomfortable on that high horse.
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