Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: An unacceptable failure of care

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  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I wrote that the police “should have had cause to fear [young women and girls] were being systematically sexually assaulted”. I think that’s fair.

    You did, and it is. I think what Rich is referring to is the misunderstanding that Beriah Hales's father was one of the members of the Child Protection Unit involved. As I understand it, he is not. [edit] Given that it's your blog, you are the "publisher of record" and therefore liable for any libel raised (correct me if I've misunderstood you, Rich).

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The findings of the IPCA include this clear statement:

    14.6 The fact that the father of one of the young men was a Police officer had no influence on Police’s handling of the investigations.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    Given that it’s your blog, you are the “publisher of record” and therefore liable for any libel raised (correct me if I’ve misunderstood you, Rich)

    Yes, I am. Let me look at that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Given that it’s your blog, you are the “publisher of record” and therefore liable for any libel raised

    I’m wondering how that should work in an online forum.
    Let’s say it’s effectively a ‘conversation’ and someone raises something libellous (and incorrect – I think truth is always a defence?)
    Others in the conversation argue with this statement, convincing the original libeller (and any reasonable reader) they were wrong (like this could actually happen on the internet!? But it’s kind’ve what’s happened here.)
    Without the original libellous statement, the whole conversation is rendered meaningless, and somehow there’s less enlightenment all round.
    I’d like to think a judge would see the thread/conversation/discussion as a whole, and accept that people in discourse get things wrong, get heated, make mistakes, sometimes boast or talk shit, and that's a part of free speech.
    It definitely shouldn’t put the owner of the house in the dock. I hope it’s not here :) but I hope we get some case-law on this soon. It’s an issue that won’t go away, but right now nobody seems to know where the boundaries lie.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Let’s say it’s effectively a ‘conversation’ and someone raises something libellous (and incorrect – I think truth is always a defence?)

    Essentially, it has to be incorrect to be libellous – truth is a defence, yes.

    I’d like to think a judge would see the thread/conversation/discussion as a whole, and accept that people in discourse get things wrong, get heated, make mistakes, sometimes boast or talk shit, and that’s a part of free speech.

    Free speech means that government can’t stop you speaking – it doesn’t mean you can say what you like. You can qualify your comment explicitly as opinion, but even that is not absolute. If I were to go on (for an absurd example) Slater’s blog and say “In my opinion, Russell Brown is a small-minded lefty woofter”, I’d probably be able to mount a credible defence of personal opinion. If, however, I posted “In my opinion, Russel Brown screws small animals and buries their bodies at the beach.” Russell would probably be within his rights to firstly demand that Slater take it down and secondly to bring action against me for defamation, which I could only defend by digging up the supposed bodies.

    It definitely shouldn’t put the owner of the house in the dock. I hope it’s not here :) but I hope we get some case-law on this soon. It’s an issue that won’t go away, but right now nobody seems to know where the boundaries lie.

    I’m sure the Edge will correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there is already case law on this (see http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/online-defamation-nz-google-case-supports-aust-not-uk-conclusions-ck-132351) which definitely points at the owner of the house.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    I’m sure the Edge will correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there is already case law on this (see http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/online-defamation-nz-google-case-supports-aust-not-uk-conclusions-ck-132351) which definitely points at the owner of the house.

    Yes. And the fact the terribly defamatory things get said in the comments of certain other blogs every day is no impediment to someone taking action on something said here.

    We are in the process of becoming Press Council members, which does offer an alternative process, one I would be happy to embrace.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Boys named sue...?
    Please delete my earlier comment if it is in any way a possible legal impediment, but I would really like to know if there was less of an inquiry because one of the boys' fathers was a policeman, that he might have been at the same station as the Child Protection Team, to my mind, makes it worse, if it is true that none of the boys' parents were approached formally or in any recorded fashion (ie a paper trail or notes)...
    Hearing Greg Connor try and say they were overworked and under resourced, when they didn't even do the basics, makes my blood boil - especially if they could have just talked to the parent-officer on site!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I would really like to know if there was less of an inquiry because one of the boys' fathers was a policeman

    See the statement I quoted above. The IPCA says no it wasn't a factor. I presume they investigated that angle before making such a firm statement.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    The IPCA says no it wasn’t a factor. I presume they investigated that angle before making such a firm statement.

    They hadn't even made the connection in the case of the first two complainants.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    Specifically, they say they found no evidence of any impact. But that is quite literally all they say about it, before concluding that there was thus no impact. It's hard to think what evidence there really could be, since anyone asked would simply deny it, unless it was some really blatant thing like a direct order to lay off the colleague's son.

    But does the pressure to treat a colleague's family differently even have to be articulated? It's considered so likely to be prejudicial that I wouldn't be allowed to sit on a jury if the defendant or victim were a colleague's child. For really, really obvious reasons. It seems like a systemic failure that the case wasn't immediately passed to police officers with no connection at all to the father.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The bit that sticks out on the report to me is this:

    Young men and their families

    105. Contrary to their engagement with the young women and their families, the investigating officers’ contact and interaction with the young men and their families was, in all six of the cases investigated by CPT staff, inadequate or non-existent (see paragraphs 93 — 96). The failure of Police to make contact meant that the young men were never held accountable for their behaviour and, without any appreciation for the consequences or repercussions, there was no
    motivation for them to discontinue their behaviour. Furthermore, given that the parents of the young men were never made aware of several of the incidents and the details of their sons’ involvement, they were unable to intervene or act to address the behaviour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    They had access to all the communications and paperwork around the case. As you say, that wouldn't show tacit influence.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink...
    "Strictly off the record but.... Keep it under your military looking hat but....
    'cos he's one of us.... Guvner..."
    Off the record that was never kept hence the lack of communication leading to the cock-up.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Police corruption is a big allegation to make. Perhaps we can agree it looks bad that one of the alleged perpetrators is a cop’s son and leave it at that.

    Police culture and competence in the area of rape and child abuse is clearly at fault. It’s hardly the first time the justice system has massively failed the survivors of rape. We must press for an overhaul of their system.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Lilith __,

    Thank you Lilith, and while you're at it, I'll just say

    I'm disgusted, but not surprised. I know the process. Sometimes it feels like " FTP!".
    IMO jus'sayin' nothing to do with Russell Brown, just me.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Lilith __,

    Police culture and competence...

    Top cop 'forgets' crime files in cupboard!!
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11421129

    Yet Rodney Hide weighs in on on how dirty police cars are - apparently that really depresses him!!!
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11421086

    and I see court documents have 'disappeared' from files on the Pike River case
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/67466264/Pike-River-court-file-goes-missing

    seems that having systems is no guarantee of people following them.
    be nice if police and justice always extended a helping hand rather than sitting on them.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Where can I get a hard copy of this report so I can throw it at the head of the next person who says "Why didn't she go to the Police?"

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Police culture and competence

    On a general point find this case shocking for the girl and their families. And on police culture I don't know how deep competence checks go and how and if they are done.

    But locally,the police cant be trusted to get anything right. They jump in hobnail boots and all when its not required, and turn a blind eye when they should be investigating fully and properly. Even tho they may be nice folks and all, professionally they just cant be trusted to get anything right, apart from issue traffic tickets.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to andin,

    Even tho they may be nice folks and all, professionally they just cant be trusted to get anything right, apart from issue traffic tickets.

    They are pretty good at hovering over houses dangling buckets of blue poison too.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to andin,

    They jump in hobnail boots and all when its not required

    Amen. Lest we forget the persecution of the alleged Christchurch light bulb looter, whose name I won't invoke out of respect for his presumed desire for privacy.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    Police corruption is a big allegation to make.

    It certainly is. But observing that there seems to be no process by which a potential criminal investigation is given to people who are guaranteed to be impartial, rather than people whose partiality is easily questionable is not an observation of corruption, but of very poor practice. Questions of corruption should never even come up in a well designed system. It should be standard practice that an investigation into any accusations against a person should not be conducted by people who know his father socially or professionally. There are separate police for investigating police, and perhaps the same should go for families of police.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Well, yes, I was referring to the comments. Fairly widespread liability for libel predates the internet, newspaper sellers are, I think, jointly responsible for any libels in the papers they sell (at least in the UK, NZ might have removed this).

    But also, I suspect (and hope) a libel case is unlikely, both because of the cost and because such a case would require X and Y to deny the allegations under oath, something they might not be well advised to do.

    However the HDC Bill, if ever enacted as proposed makes legal action a simpler process and truth not an absolute defence. That would definitely chill discussion such as this.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Sue, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    They jump in hobnail boots and all when its not required

    Amen. Lest we forget the persecution of the alleged Christchurch light bulb looter, whose name I won’t invoke out of respect for his presumed desire for privacy.

    Arthur Alan Thomas, David Bain, Teina Pora
    victims of the police

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Lawyer Catriona MacLennan is concerned amongst several things that the previous Operation Clover review repeated some of the same deficient reasoning about laying charges.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

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