23 Sep 2008

Internet name ban on murder accused lifted

2:59 pm on 23 September 2008

An Auckland District Court judge has lifted a ban on publishing the names of two murder accused on the internet.

Judge David Harvey made the initial internet suppression order when Nathan Williams and Daniel Tumata appeared in court last on 25 August but allowed their names to be used in other media.

The two men are charged with the murder of 14-year-old John Hapeta in South Auckland.

Following submissions from a number of media organisations including Radio New Zealand, Judge Harvey lifted the restrictions on online publication.

In his written decision, the judge said there is no identifiable risk to a fair trial for the two men, so in this case the right to freedom of expression overrides the right to fair trial.

Judge Harvey also said the media can always withdraw material from the internet at a later date if directed to do so.

However internet expert David Farrar says now the men's names can be published freely, it would be almost impossible to remove all mentions of them from the internet.