Access to Boult case files denied by High Court

The High Court has turned down an Allied Press request for access to files from the case brought against Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult by the liquidators of Stonewood Homes Ltd, Rhys Cain and Rees Logan.

More than $28million in damages is being sought from Mr Boult and former Stonewood Homes managing director Brent Mettrick.

Mr Boult was a director of the failed company and is defending three charges of breaching his duties under the Companies Act.

Allied Press sought access to the files before this month's local government election, on the grounds it was in the public interest for voters to be aware of the details.

However, in an October 9 decision, received by Allied Press yesterday, associate judge Owen Paulsen declined the request, and a similar one made by Stuff.

All parties involved in the case opposed the request.

The Allied Press request included a recent, unspecified application.

Judge Paulsen acknowledged there was an application by Mr Boult to strike out the proceeding as an "abuse of process''.

Judge Paulsen said there was no "presumption in favour of disclosure of information'', and cited a Court of Appeal decision in another case which said publication of allegations and counter-allegations "would not be conducive to the orderly and fair administration of justice''.

"The public interest will not be advanced by allowing non-parties access to evidence which may be incorrect and/or inadmissible ...''

Judge Paulsen also noted the Supreme Court saying the principle of open justice "means not only that judicial proceedings should be held in open court, accessible by the public, but also that media representatives should be free to provide fair and accurate reports of what occurs in the court''.

But the court also said the protection of confidentiality and privacy interests and the orderly and fair administration of justice "may require that access to documents be limited''.

Judge Paulsen said as the case was at "pre-trial stage'', support for granting access was "not strong'' and "outweighed'' by the other considerations.

Stuff unsuccessfully sought the name of the person funding the case against Mr Boult and Mr Mettrick.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

 

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