Over the past few years there has been a defamation case working its way through the Courts based on the nasty behaviour of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater (son of former National Party Chairman), PR agent Cameron Slater (son of Sir Doug Graham, former National MP) and Katherine Rich (CEO of the Food and Grocery Council and a former National MP).
The case ended as the New Zealand Herald reported:
An apology and cash payment has been made by a public relations consultant to three public health experts who were victims of defamatory online attacks alleged to have been funded by money from Big Sugar and Big Tobacco.
The apology from Carrick Graham came in the opening hours of a defamation case at the High Court in Auckland in which evidence was to be produced showing he had taken money from clients in alcohol and food industries and paid former Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to attack public health researchers.
The article continued:
And it was Graham who halted the case with a public apology to those public health experts – Dr Doug Sellman, professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at the University of Otago, Dr Boyd Swinburn, professor of population nutrition and global health at the University of Auckland,
Salmon said there was also evidence the FGC had paid FCL $365,619 between November 2009 and July 2016 with invoices carrying “generic narrations”.
And it was Graham who halted the case with a public apology to those public health experts – Dr Doug Sellman, professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at the University of Otago, Dr Boyd Swinburn, professor of population nutrition and global health at the University of Auckland,and Shane Bradbrook, senior adviser at Te Arawhiti, the Office for Māori Crown Relations.
Professors Sellman and Swinburn said:
Sellman said the case wasn’t fought just for the trio who took it, but “for all our colleagues who are advocating for strong public health policies”.
And Swinburn said it showed “dirty tactics” employed by tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries also happened in New Zealand.
Graham, said he would make a payment along with the apology.
Graham’s lawyer Chris Patterson, on behalf of his client, told the court that Graham was apologising for “untrue, unfair, offensive, insulting and defamatory” statements made through the Whale Oil blog.
In New Zealand we are hopelessly innocent about big money attempting to influence public policy. Here is the final statement by Professor Swinburn:
“I hope that uncovering these connections between big money, underhand PR and defamatory blogs is a wake-up call and we can begin to see better public health policies from Government.”
Here’s how Newsroom covered this story and is well worth a read as it shows how the parties were prepared to play games with the Courts until they probably had advice from their from their lawyers that they were pushing the proverbial up hill.