25 Aug 2010

Decision reserved over blogger suppression case

8:20 pm on 25 August 2010

A judge has reserved his decision in the case of Cameron Slater, the first New Zealand blogger to stand trial for breaching suppression orders online.

Mr Slater, who is also known as Whale Oil, is facing 10 charges of breaching suppression orders or making posts available that were likely to identify someone who has suppression. He firmly denies the charges.

In a police interview in December that was played in the Auckland District Court on Wednesday, Mr Slater said he had not named people on his site and had used random pictures.

His lawyer, Greg Thwaite, told the court Mr Slater has no case to answer. He says there is no evidence his client was in court when suppression orders were made, and he was only ever interested in criticising those orders.

The Crown says the law surrounding suppression orders is clear and information was put on Mr Slater's blog which has unrestricted public access.

The Crown told the court there is nothing to suggest that suppression orders granted in court should apply only to news media and says they also apply to internet blogs.

In court, there was heated debate about whether names could be mentioned. The judge ruled the names must be stated for the purposes of the trial, but as suppression orders remain in place, they must not be reported.

Mr Slater posted a blog before his court appearance, saying he would test the law. He has been prohibited from updating his website while the case is being heard.

The judge has reserved his decision until 4 September.