Sunday Star-Times: Judge backs blogger’s fight against fraud

The following is reproduced in the public interest. The Grant Norman King website contains other media references and the Court’s full judgement. –Eds

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Lawyer Madeleine Flannagan said the judge’s decision showed free speech was alive and well. […] The unique nature of the case, setting a new precedent in harassment laws, meant it was already being used by media law professors at Auckland University.

### Last updated 05:00 25/05/2014
Judge backs blogger’s fight against fraud
By Rob Kidd – Sunday Star-Times
A fraudster’s victim who fought back has won a landmark battle to name and shame the man who scammed him and dozens of others.
Nearly two and a half years ago, Steve Taylor contracted Grant Norman King to build a sleepout for his elderly father behind the family home in West Auckland. Taylor paid three-quarters of the price – $23,500 – as a deposit. The sleepout was never built and the money was not returned.

In a bid to get even, Taylor brought civil proceedings against King but when the cost of continuing the case became prohibitive, he took a different tack, setting up the website with the intention of warning others who might be drawn in.

Within months other victims were clamouring to tell their stories and it was not long before Taylor built a comprehensive timeline of King’s offending. King then tried to turn the legal tables on Taylor by using the Harassment Act to sue Taylor and demand the website be taken down. Taylor was forced into Auckland District Court to defend himself. However, that was King’s mistake. “What he did was open up the opportunity for every other victim to tell their story, which was the very thing he was advocating against,” Taylor said. Affidavits in support of Taylor’s cause flooded in and he said it was surreal to be standing in court with the public gallery full of people backing him.

Taylor said more than 70 victims had come forward, across a 32-year span, claiming losses of more than $3 million.

In court Judge David Wilson sided with Taylor and said the website, with all its explosive accusations, could remain online. “It would be inappropriate if a man in Mr King’s position could close down postings of essentially factual material on the basis that it interferes with his commercial plans and deprives him of customers,” the judge said.
Full article

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23.5.14 Stadium | DCC Draft Annual Plan 2014/15 ● Benson-Pope asserts himself

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Business, Construction, Democracy, Hot air, Inspiration, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Site

8 responses to “Sunday Star-Times: Judge backs blogger’s fight against fraud

  1. You fu#$%g beauty! Go Bev Butler. I predict that Bev will be canonised inside 12 months and declared a saint inside 5 years.

  2. Russell Garbutt

    Oh how this decision will be hated by those lovely people residing in Qtown and Wanaka who have wreaked such havoc. All bluster and BS

  3. This certainly will put a lot of people of interest in Bev’s research on the back foot. Might speed up the disclosure procedure as well. The day of the “sweep it under the carpet” attitude by our mayor and council might be up for re-consideration. No doubt, once there has been a judicial decision on procedure things change. Watch the rushing for the high ground. Keep an eye on BP.

  4. Comment published at ODT Online:

    Better things to think about
    Submitted by ej kerr on Fri, 23/05/2014 – 10:30am.

    I’m pleased the majority of councillors voted against Cr Benson-Pope’s motion. Perhaps, as the chairman of Regulatory and Planning, he really sought ultimate control of free speech and strong opinion – that in itself goes against natural justice. If he is concerned by Bev Butler’s submission to the council’s draft annual plan and her courteous and direct follow up email then he should also acquaint himself with what has been placed in public domain through New Zealand’s leading media in recent years – the media have accepted her questions and statements on named parties as being worthy of publication and the discursive attention of the general public. Ms Butler is popularly regarded as a tireless researcher and a rigorous defender of the public purse. Where the sentiments of the DCC’s political arm truly lie in oversight of the progenitors of the stadium project, and the entities that continue to – without qualm, it seems – soak up, ‘inconclusively’, millions and millions of dollars of ratepayer funds each year, is a serious matter of public contention. The council’s legal advisors might chew on that.

  5. Peter

    From what I can see most politicians will avoid doing anything uncomfortable until they are forced to do so. The Michael Swann fraud of the DHB, from what I hear, wasn’t a sudden revelation upon which something immediately was done by way of investigation. People talked, some people voiced their doubts/concerns, while those in authority did nothing until they were finally pressured to do something. That’s how it works. Only then did the decision-makers hop onto the bandwagon, so they looked good, and covered their arses in the process.

    Meanwhile…. politicians play with their ‘feel good’ agendas, trying to make people feel nice and comfortable (and win them over for the next election), and they avoid those horrid, negative people, who deal with facts, on thornier issues, that cannot be disputed. These ‘ratbag’ people make them feel uncomfortable because they don’t want to do anything that might alienate those powerful people who could help their political careers later on. They burble on in double speak. These kind of politicians are basically political parasites. They are ridiculed. They deserve it.

    How much easier, for example, is it for councillors to promote something lite like ‘bells for bikes’. It all sounds really cute, but is vacuous and achieves nothing of lasting value.(About as useful as blankets around the trees in the Octagon, a few years back, to help the trees recover over the winter.)

    I value that rare species of political animal that makes the decision that their role is to make waves and to bring about real change. They forgo the ‘baubles of office’, but their effectiveness lives on…. while the ‘Cr Beiges’ are quickly forgotten. We find these rare people on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

  6. Maurice Prendergast

    Peter – you are so right. I was dumped from Council at the election of 2007 for (I believe) no reason other than that I (along with Lee) told the truth about the hidden agenda that was driving that monster that is now known as the Forsyth Barr Stadium. Lee, being the only other Councillor telling the truth was also dumped. So all other Councillors from that term avoided enunciating the truth by remaining silent and were returned to office. As you so ably put it Peter, forgoing the ‘baubles of office’ is the reward that is on offer for telling the truth. Lee of course had enough youth on his side to fight again another day and has been returned to office but is a lone voice against those who practise denial of the truth. I being rather greyer at the temples have settled for the ignominious experience of membership of Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board which has a status roughly commensurate with that of Dad’s Army; from whence I can at least exercise ‘elected member status’ and feed some of these overtly compliant simpletons a bit of slipper. But I digress: In the years that have passed since I was dumped in 2007, I have experienced something of an epiphany – a realisation of how the cards were stacked against anyone (Lee and I in this case) who dared to attempt to exercise discipline and this reality lies in a very sobering statistic. That is: the year 1972 was the last year prior to 2007 that NZ had earned more than it had spent. A glaring consequence of this is that my ‘voter audience’ comprised at least two generations (since 1972) who had always had what they wanted. They belonged to the ‘spend more than you earned’ generations and they represented roughly 60% of my voter audience. So is it any wonder that their eyes ‘glazed over’ when I confronted them with the facts; many had absolutely no comprehension of fiscal discipline. The reactions ranged from disliking me to unconditionally hating me. The record shows that I was dumped. And I can’t deny that at times I harboured the temptation to (as all others save Lee did) say nothing – that good old neither for nor against option. But I could not dispel from my mind those inspirational words of Edmund Bourke when he said “all that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Now I hasten to add that I am no saint… [Abridged, for avoidance of self-incrimination, real or perceived. -Eds] …I thank Peter for making that ‘succinct’ distinction between that ‘rare species’ and the ‘run of the mill mob’. Though vanquished, I comfort myself on two counts; I risked loss rather than betray myself, but the really fulfilling outcome is represented in the fact that the prognosis that Lee and I were so roundly damned for has materialised in spades. Now that’s nothing to celebrate but is something of a mute reward for not being a political tart.

  7. Peter

    Hi Maurice. You were the kind of (ex) politician I was thinking of and thank you again for your courage in speaking your mind, even if it was to your cost, politically. You and Lee were the only ones who stood up to the group think and bullying at the time and… look how right you have both been proved to be.
    Of course, such people as you are accused of not being ‘team players’. In any normal situation acting as a team can bring stability and workable results for decision making, but when something like the stadium issue came along it was time to speak out. Too few did.
    I remember one of the bullshit ruses at the time was ‘we need more information’ to make an informed decision. The thing is the information was already there if most of those dopey councillors had cared to read it instead of going along with what Farry told them.
    Now we have progressed to more ‘heads in the sand’ thinking. No longer ‘let’s make the stadium work’, but isn’t it great WHEN the stadium is full and the town is buzzing. We hear this largely from Dave Cull’s grouping…..the same people who argued against the stadium giving the same reasons, as the rest of us, why it would never work. Politicians seem to play amazing mind games with themselves to avoid reality and put off the day of reckoning.
    Meanwhile the stadium will sink further into the financial mire….stadium review notwithstanding. Major(unbudgeted) maintenance is coming up and what about that private funding, for construction, that has disappeared and which the council is too gutless to insist on calling in? Also add the ongoing costs of running the place while we bask in the odd ‘party day’ that Dave Cull and his cohorts now see as ‘positive’.
    It amuses me, in a sick way, listening to those councillors sagely talking about belt tightening to some seeking small grants for their community groups to keep going, while they vote a huge $3m to keep the stadium afloat. Somehow this is seen as a positive step to make the stadium work!
    I hasten to add the council has done some good, to be fair, with some initiatives which I personally have no problem supporting in principle. My only concern is that while these are genuinely good for us, we still can’t really afford them…. at this time.

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