Political figure loses suppression appeal but may seek Supreme Court date

Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Jun 2022, 3:58pm

Political figure loses suppression appeal but may seek Supreme Court date

Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Jun 2022, 3:58pm

A political figure has again lost a legal argument to prevent the Herald and other media from naming them after being mentioned during a businessman's high-profile sex and corruption trial last year.

Today, the Court of Appeal released its judgment after the political figure argued last month that two judges had earlier erred when determining her identity should be publicly published.

The Court of Appeal disagreed and dismissed the challenge, revoking a suppression order first made in the District Court in March 2019.

However, the political figure's lawyer, Davey Salmon QC, had indicated he'd been instructed to take the case to the Supreme Court if today's judgment was unfavourable for his client.

Because of this the Court of Appeal continued suppression of the political figure's identity for a further 10 working days.

"Interim suppression of [the political figure's name means that this judgment cannot be made publicly available, and media reports cannot fully explain this Court's reasons since to do so might tend to identify her," the Court of Appeal explained in today's ruling.

"So the interim order should be made for a short period. [Their] name will be suppressed for a period of 10 working days from the date of this judgment. If an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is made within that time, the suppression order will subsist pending further order of the Supreme Court."

The New Zealand Herald's publisher NZME and Stuff have been arguing through several court hearings for the suppression order to be revoked since the political figure was mentioned several times during last year's trial of a prominent businessman.

Last month, Salmon told the Court of Appeal the allegations against his client were "highly defamatory and indisputably false".

He said the political figure had been dragged into an "awful conspiracy" to protect a sex offender by a man he described as a "fabulist and fantasist".

Controversial PR consultant Jevan Goulter is that man.

When giving evidence at his High Court trial, the businessman told jurors it was the political figure's purported association with Goulter which attracted him to using the firm Goulter & Associates.

He said he needed help for impending reputational damage issues and claimed rumours were circling in Australian media about indecent assault allegations against him.

However, the jury heard Goulter was hired for a more sinister purpose, which has now become known as the Gold Coast plot.

Goulter travelled with a group to the Gold Coast in May 2017 in an elaborate attempt to dissuade one of the businessman's three victims from continuing with their police complaint and court case.

The effort to silence the victim failed.

Shortly after returning to Auckland, Goulter and his associate Allison Edmonds then met with the businessman's manager at Karangahape Rd's Family Bar to discuss what to do next.

Their meeting was recorded by Edmonds and throughout the conversation the political figure's name is mentioned. Goulter primarily made several false claims, including that he would share payment for his work for the businessman with the political figure.

Salmon said the allegations were "scandalous because the transcript of the Family Bar recording is so appalling".

The Family Bar recording remained hidden until it emerged halfway through the businessman's first trial in March 2019, resulting in Judge Russell Collins aborting it.

In a subsequent statement to police, Goulter said his comments about the political figure during the recording were untrue. He did, however, accept he talked to the political figure about his own name suppression affidavit and prior to the Family Bar meeting sought and took advice from them.

The High Court jury ultimately found the businessman, who continues to enjoy name suppression, guilty of indecently assaulting three men in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

He was also convicted of twice trying to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 victim to drop their claims.

Goulter and Edmonds were both granted immunity from prosecution by the Solicitor-General in exchange for their evidence for the Crown.

The convicted former rich-lister, meanwhile was sentenced in May 2021 to two years and four months in prison. However, he was granted bail by the Court of Appeal on a third attempt pending the appeal of his convictions and sentence.

The appeal is due to be heard later this year.

The businessman's manager, who also has name suppression, was jointly charged and found guilty over attempting to dissuade the complainant during the Gold Coast scheme.

He was sentenced to 12 months' home detention.

New Zealand entertainer Mika X, also known as Mika Haka, was also part of the conspiracy.

He was sentenced to 11 months' home detention after admitting two charges of attempting to dissuade the 2016 indecent assault victim from giving evidence.