Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater is being prosecuted for
exactly the same thing he is complaining about -- using someone
else's private communications without their permission.
And the prosecution could see the blogger ordered to produce
in court original copies of information used in Nicky Hager's
Slater filed a complaint with the Privacy Commission after
Hager used years of hacked email and social media
conversations to write the book, which paints a picture of a
National government which encourages attack politics through
But the commission has recently decided Slater had breached
the privacy of businessman Matt Blomfield after the blogger
published dozens of posts on Whaleoil based on a computer
hard drive he had obtained. It passed the case to the office
of the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, which is now
prosecuting him over five days in October.
Barrister Simon Judd, who is prosecuting the case for the
Director of Human Rights Proceedings, said Slater was
defending the case by claiming he was a journalist and not
subject to the Privacy Act.
He said it would be argued Slater was not a journalist -- and
even if he was, the material he published on Mr Blomfield was
not a "news media activity".
"If he's putting stuff on the internet about Mr Blomfield
where this is no public interest and the stuff he is putting
on is private information, we would argue that can't possibly
be a news activity."
He said he believed some material highlighted in Dirty
Politics could be sought from Slater through discovery rules
because it had relevance to the prosecution. Dirty Politics
claimed there was an arrangement which saw public relations
specialist Carrick Graham feeding posts to Slater's blog
attacking those who challenged his clients. The posts
included attacks on those campaigning against alcohol,
breast-feeding, obesity and smoking.
He said it could make the case that Slater's involvement in
"public relations work for corporates" was not an activity
which was consistent with claims he was a journalist.
Mr Judd said if the prosecution was successful then remedies
could includes a financial damages award and an order for
Slater to attend a training session on privacy rights.Mr
Blomfield claimed Slater obtained a computer hard drive with
10 years of data on it, including emails, family photographs
and legal documents.
The material was used to write content for the blog which had
a "huge" impact, said Mr Blomfield.
"It is not just the feeling of having no privacy whatsoever.
It's the privacy of everyone around you that is taken away as
well. It's a very good way to destroy any relationship you
have with anyone in terms of trust."
He said the Dirty Politics case was different as it Hager had
removed personal details from the hacked content and it was
about public figures.
"I'm running my household. They're running the country."
Mr Blomfield is also suing Slater for defamation with a full
hearing expected next year. A High Court decision is pending
in the case on whether Slater is a journalist -- a status he
is seeking in the belief it will allow him to withhold
information about his sources from Mr Blomfield.
Slater did not return calls for comment.
- David Fisher of the New Zealand Herald