Well-known businessman accused of breaching Millane name suppression

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 20 Jan 2020, 10:12AM
The man convicted of murdering Grace Millane still has name suppression.  (Photo / Supplied)
The man convicted of murdering Grace Millane still has name suppression. (Photo / Supplied)

Well-known businessman accused of breaching Millane name suppression

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 20 Jan 2020, 10:12AM

A well-known Auckland businessman charged with breaching a court suppression order for the man who murdered Grace Millane has been granted suppression himself.

The 63-year-old man was due to appear today in the Auckland District Court after being accused of flouting a suppression order relating to the British backpacker's killer, the Herald first reported last month.

However, the hearing was adjourned and rescheduled for February 7 - two weeks before Millane's murderer will return to court for his sentencing.

The businessman is the first person to be charged by New Zealand police after numerous suppression breaches before and after last November's high-profile trial.

But he has also been granted interim name suppression, despite having yet to
physically appear in court, the Herald understands.

Court documents viewed by the Herald show the businessman allegedly breached the suppression order on November 22.

It was the same day a jury found a now 28-year-old man guilty of murdering Millane after a nearly month-long trial in the High Court at Auckland.

When the Herald asked if the businessman wished to comment on the court proceedings he replied: "I've got no interest in talking about it. I've got no interest in talking to you, you clearly have no idea what's going on. So the answer is no, no, no, no."

The 28-year-old man who murdered Grace Millane has interim name suppression. Photo / Michael Craig

The 28-year-old man who murdered Grace Millane has interim name suppression. Photo / Michael Craig

The trial's presiding judge, Justice Simon Moore, also said after the verdict that the killer's name would remain suppressed "until further order of the court".

The reasons for the order and the legal arguments made by both the Crown and defence have also been suppressed.

Despite the suppression order, in the hours and days after the verdict overseas media and social media users - including in New Zealand - published the killer's name.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, the police officer in charge of the case, also warned Kiwis about breaching suppression orders relating to the case the day after the guilty verdict.

"While we appreciate the public feeling around this case, we do want to remind the public that it is an offence to breach a court order such as a name suppression - this includes naming someone on social media," he said.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard has warned people that it is an offence to name the accused on social media. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Detective Inspector Scott Beard has warned people that it is an offence to name the accused on social media. Photo / Jason Oxenham

While breaking a suppression order is not an extraditable offence for those who do so overseas, people in New Zealand who are guilty face up to six months' imprisonment or a $25,000 fine.

In the case of a company breaching, a fine of up to $100,000 can be imposed.

The recent breaches, largely by those here and the United Kingdom, come after a year of debate about the effectiveness of New Zealand's suppression orders in the internet age.

After Millane's killer first appeared in court in December 2018, British media named him in its papers, online and on-air.

Internet behemoth Google breached a suppression order when it named Millane's then accused murderer in its "what's trending in New Zealand" mass email to New Zealand subscribers.

The email said there had been more than 100,000 searches on its search engine of the man's name.

The Google breach was met with condemnation by Justice Minister Andrew Little, who held a meeting with Attorney-General David Parker and executives from the Silicon Valley-based company.

In July last year, Google suspended its trending emails in New Zealand and apologised to Little.

After the murder trial, Little said the breaches were "really disappointing" but was optimistic changes to the way court suppression orders were enforced were on the way.