NZ First Basis case: Accused’s lawyer says there will be a ‘trial by media’ if named

NZ First Foundation case: Accused's lawyer says there'll be a 'trial by media' if named

One of the two people charged in connection with the New Zealand First Foundation’s donation case has argued that if he were named, he would have a “media trial”.

The couple is believed to have fraudulently deposited more than $ 740,000 in an account with the NZ First Foundation and were indicted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in September.

Media outlets, including Stuff, attempted to divulge the couple’s identity ahead of the October election. However, despite hearings in the District Court, the High Court and filing for permission in the Court of Appeals, this was denied.

At a hearing in the North Shore District Court before Judge Deidre Orchard on Thursday, one of the defendants requested continued name suppression until the end of the trial because he and his relatives were suffering from extreme difficulties.

Judge Orchard reserved her decision.

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Both defendants have denied the charges against them and have chosen a judicial process by a jury.

The couple appeared in North Shore District Court Thursday.

Bevan Read / Stuff

The couple appeared in North Shore District Court Thursday.

The man’s lawyer said there was a media storm after the charges were brought and criticized the SFO and the media for “actively politicizing” the charges.

The defendant’s attorney accused the media of being “irresponsible” in his reporting and New Zealand’s first leader Winston Peters had been the target of media and troll attacks despite the lack of charges.

He filed numerous affidavits in support, including one from right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, who was also in court on Thursday.

“This is about the ability of the media and social media to use the hate method established by Mr Slater to attack and cause harm to Mr Peters [my client]. ”

The lawyer said if his client was named, he would be brought to justice by the media.

The man disagreed with the judge when asked if he believed that repression orders against trollers and bloggers were ineffective.

“You just have to follow them and find them and [my client] will, ”he said.

Attorney Robert Stewart, acting on behalf of the media companies, opposed continued name suppression.

Jason Dorday / Stuff

Attorney Robert Stewart, acting on behalf of the media companies, opposed continued name suppression.

John Dixon, QC, represented the SFO and turned down the request for continued name suppression. The Crown claims the man committed fraud and deception.

“Nobody in the NZ First Foundation knew the $ 750,000 was coming in,” Dixon said.

Dixon said that while the publication of the defendant’s name was “personally embarrassing,” it would not prejudice rights to a fair trial and would not meet grounds for extreme difficulty.

Attorney Robert Stewart, who acted on behalf of media companies like Stuff, again refused to continue the repression, saying that the defendant did not comply with the extreme hardship threshold.

He said the media did not politicize the reporting. It was the NZ First Party that did so when trying to quell the charges.

“The political party has sparked speculation,” said Stewart.

Judge Deidre Orchard reserved her decision after Thursday's hearing.

Bevan Read / Stuff

Judge Deidre Orchard reserved her decision after Thursday’s hearing.

He said that unlike bloggers and social media, all media companies have codes of conduct and are subject to the Press Council and Broadcasting Standards Authority.

“The allegations made by the defendant’s attorney and Mr. Slater are all speculative … and are not supported by evidence,” Stewart said.

Stewart said Slater’s affidavit was not based on evidence or fact and asked the judge not to put any weight on it.

Slater said on an affidavit that media outlets were seeking the lifting of the repression on political grounds, out of dislike of Peters and anyone associated with him, the court heard.

New Zealand's first chairman, Winston Peters, was not re-elected in October.

David White / things

New Zealand’s first chairman, Winston Peters, was not re-elected in October.

“What is that based on? It is an agenda presented to the court as expert opinion, ”said Stewart.

The other defendant does not seek name suppression, but his co-defendant argued that if he were named it would identify him.


Billing documents received from Stuff claim the couple deposited a total of $ 746,881 into two separate accounts, including that of the New Zealand First Foundation, between September 30, 2015 and February 14, 2020.

The Serious Fraud Office alleges the couple implemented a “fraudulent device, trick or strategy” and donations for the party have been deposited into bank accounts of a company and the foundation without reporting them to the party secretary and / or electoral commission.

The undeclared funds were then used to pay the party costs and build a fundraising database, the documents said.

None of the defendants were ministers, MPs or candidates before the 2020 elections. You were also not a current member of the NZ First Party or an employee.