The Human Rights Review Tribunal has today upheld a complaint against Cameron Slater. The Tribunal found that Slater had breached the privacy of Matthew Blomfield by obtaining and publishing Mr Blomfield’s personal information.
The Tribunal ordered Slater to pay $70,000 in damages for the “humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings experienced by Mr Blomfield”. That is one of the highest awards ever made by the HRRT. It also ordered Slater to destroy Mr Blomfield’s personal information and to cease publishing stories based on that information.
In reaching its decision, the Tribunal rejected an argument from Slater that he was protected by a privacy exemption for news media. The Tribunal accepted that the blog site Whale Oil could be a news medium. However, it found that all but one of the publications complained of could not properly be described as a news activity. Rather, they were “gratuitous allegations” as part of a “sustained campaign” against Mr Blomfield. The Tribunal described the blog as “a calculated attack on Mr Blomfield and an extended assassination of his character”.
While being elated at the result, Mr Blomfield was very disappointed that the decision had taken so long. “I feel like I have lived the maxim, “justice delayed is justice denied”” he said. The hearing of this complaint before the Tribunal occurred more than four years ago. A few weeks ago, Slater had himself declared bankrupt. Since the hearing, the private information has appeared on other blog sites including one run by the lay advocate who assisted Slater before the HRRT. “The Tribunal has sat on this case for so long that it will now be very difficult for me to enforce any of its orders” said Mr Blomfield.
“Mr Slater’s actions have been an extended nightmare for me and my family. He has boasted online about having my family’s private information including the photos of my kids growing up and our family home movies. This has been especially traumatic for my children and my partner.” said Mr Blomfield. “Every allegation he made about me was a fabrication. As has become clear in the defamation case, there was simply no basis for the allegations, he just made them up.”