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Legal Proceedings against the Attorney General


By John Boscawen - Trustee Freedom of Speech Trust

14 May 2008

Legal Proceedings against the Attorney General in respect to the Bill of Rights Act and the Electoral Finance Act - First public hearing Wellington High Court, tomorrow Thursday 15 May at 10.00am

The legal proceedings commenced last year by John Boscawen, Sensible Sentencing spokesperson Garth McVicar, Grey Power President Graham Stairmand and Rodney Hide MP against the Attorney General are to have their first public court hearing at the Wellington High Court tomorrow, 15 May at 10.00am before Justice Clifford.

Mr Boscawen said: "The applicants are seeking a declaration that the Attorney General failed to notify Parliament last July during the first reading of the Electoral Finance Bill that the Electoral Finance Bill was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act 1990 as he is required to do under section 7 of that Act".

The applicants originally sought to have the issue dealt with urgently last year before the Electoral Finance Act was passed but this was opposed by the Crown.

The Crown has applied to have the proceedings struck out and this application will finally be heard tomorrow in public session in the Wellington High Court.

Mr Boscawen also said: "The original statement of claim was updated earlier this year to argue that the Attorney General's obligation to notify inconsistencies with the Bill of Rights Act is a continuing obligation and the applicants believe that not only was the Electoral Finance Bill inconsistent with the Bill Rights Act when it was first introduced but it continued to be inconsistent when it was reported back by the Select Committee on 20 November and when it was passed into law on 18 December 2007".

Mr Boscawen said: "One of the original provisions of the Electoral Finance Bill was a requirement that any one wanting to express a view on any political issue in election year was first required to sign a statutory declaration before they spent a single dollar expressing that view. I believe it is incomprehensible that such a provision is not inconsistent with section 14 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990 which affirms our rights to free speech. It is hard to believe that the Crown Law Office could come to this opinion in its advice to the Attorney General. This opinion cannot go unchallenged and we are bringing this action in an attempt to safeguard the hard won rights to free speech of all New Zealanders".


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