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Stephen Franks' campaign team caught out

Both Eyes Open

Media release 5 November 2008

Stephen Franks' campaign team caught out

Stephen Franks' campaign team caught out destroying opponents' posters National Party candidate Stephen Franks' campaign team has been systematically tearing down political posters put up by his opponents – despite Franks recently describing people defacing his election hoardings as “political thugs who don’t like free speech or opinions different from their own”.

The group Both Eyes Open – which has been distributing posters, banners and stickers around the country reminding the public of the National Partyʼs record – discovered that its posters were being removed every night throughout central Wellington. “Our members went out last night and this morning and discovered it was Stephen Franks' campaign people tearing them down,” spokesperson Fergus Wheeler said. Photos of these people match photos of the campaign people who have been out holding banners and leafletting with Stephen Franks around the city (see http://botheyesopen.org.nz)

“It seems a little hypocritical of Mr Franks to grandstand about freedom of speech for his own campaign advertisements and then let his team destroy other people's ones,” Mr Wheeler said.

The posters they have been removing include one about Stephen Franks' anti-human rights actions three years ago when he was an ACT MP. The “Don't vote for prejudice” poster quotes his amendment to human rights legislation where he tried to make it lawful for employers and landlords to discriminate against people for being in an unmarried couple, for being gay, for “extra-marital child bearing” and for breaching “promises made in marriage”. Just this morning we watched his campaign team removing these posters, and two others saying “

Do you really want a SUB-PRIME MINISTER?” and “Privatised health, School fees up, Benefit Cuts, Toll roads -- National, not the change we need.” In other words, we have been having a legitimate say about the issues that we believe are important in this election. This is exactly the freedom of speech that two weeks ago Stephen Franks was self-righteously defending.”

Our members spoke to Stephen Franks in the street this morning and he confirmed that his crew had been removing posters. He claimed that the “Donʼt vote for prejudice” posters were defamatory but did not explain why this gave his a right to remove them.

“As a lawyer, he knows the defamation is decided in court, not by removing other peopleʼs freedom of speech,” Mr Wheeler said. “Theyʼre not defamatory, weʼre just reminding people of Mr Franks' past actions which he would prefer liberal Wellington Central voters to forget.”


Stephen Franks' website

“We plan to catch these political thugs who don't like free speech or opinions different from their own. If the Police choose not to treat it seriously there is always private prosecution.”

“Weʼre protecting freedom of expression. It is vital to everyone who believes in elections without coercion, whether you think signs are useful or not. Some parties whose budgets would not stand the cost of continual sign replacement will remain visible..”

“But law and enforcement can't work long term without a practical consensus. Respect for others, for their rights to express opinions and respect for their property should concern all candidates.”


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