I’m a barrister specialising in media law, practising in Wellington.
You might have heard me commenting on legal issues in the media or filling in as host for TVNZ’s Court Report. You probably thought to yourself, “what a wise and reasonable fellow”. Many, many people say that to me.
After getting a first class honours degree in law from Victoria University of Wellington, I cut my teeth as one of Fair Go’s lawyers. After about three years, I studied at the University of California at Berkeley and obtained a Masters degree in Journalism, and have since done a range of (mostly freelance) journalism, so I’ve got training and experience on both sides of the journalistic fence.
More recently, I’ve given legal advice on Nicky Hager’s last three books and in his recent defamation stoush with Australian political consultants Crosby Textor. In 2006 I managed to persuade the Court of Appeal to un-ban Anne Hunt’s book “Broken Silence”. In recent years, I have represented the Ministry of Health in its successful broadcasting standards complaints against TV3’s Qantas-award winning documentary “Let Us Spray”. I acted for Minister of Health David Cunliffe in a complaint against TVNZ’s Close Up programme that was upheld, and I represented several Coromandel councillors in their successful broadcasting standards complaints against Kool FM. On the other side of the fence, I’ve also provided advice to television and radio broadcasters in successful High Court appeals, including the recent appeals over the TV programmes Hung and the Sunday current affairs doco on the Aramoana massacre. I’ve also successfully argued cases before the Press Council, including one in which the NZ Herald was forced to publish a front-page correction. I have also frequently acted for defendants and plaintiffs in defamation cases. In 2010, I was one of Valerie Morse’s lawyers in her successful Supreme Court appeal of her conviction for offensive behaviour when she burned a flag during a protest.
You can find out about my professional services here.
I’ve written a book called Media Minefield to help people understand the decisions of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Press Council, and the laws of defamation, privacy, contempt of court, breach of confidence and trespass.
Find out more, including how you can buy copies (it would make a fine birthday present) here.
I’m also an adjunct lecturer in media law at Victoria University of Wellington’s law school. A few years ago, I was the law school’s Fellow in Law and Journalism, and carried out research into the operation of the Official Information Act. I concluded that it works pretty well until you start asking for something that’s politically sensitive. You can find it here.
This blog has evolved from a discussion group for media lawyers I set up a few years ago called “Media Law Junkies”.
Ph 04 463 6336 (work)
Fax 04 463 6365
Mobile 022 026 2997
School of Law
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600