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Auckland Man Resoundingly Defeats Cameron Slater And The Whale Oil Blog In Judgment On Longrunning Defamation Case

Matt Blomfield fought for twelve years to clear his name from the defamatory attacks launched against him on the Whale Oil blog, owned and operated by Cameron Slater. The series of posts alleged a wide range of criminal activities, accusations that shattered Blomfield’s career and social standing.

In a judgment released today (attached below), Blomfield is completely vindicated, with Justice Johnstone of the High Court finding the Whale Oil posts to be ‘false and seriously defamatory’, written with malice, and with clear intention to destroy Blomfield’s reputation.

Compensatory damages of $475,000 are awarded to Blomfield.

The posts, published in 2012 when the Whale Oil blog attracted 317,000 views a month, ‘can only have been published for the ancillary purpose of fostering abusive and unjustified comments about Blomfield by commentators’, Justice Johnstone stated.

The story was recounted in the 2019 book ‘Whale Oil: One man’s fight to save his reputation, then his life’, by author Margie Thomson with a foreword by Nicky Hager. They are delighted and relieved that this judgment brings to an end the mighty effort he has been forced to expend in order to clear his name. ‘It took an exceptional man to keep going in the face of such an attack,’ Margie Thomson said, ‘let alone to take a defamation case through our legal system and not be squashed by the process.’

He never dreamed it was to take him twelve years.

As the malicious blogs appeared, Blomfield’s business opportunities fell away. The campaign against him did not just take place on the blog, but also manifested in relentless, nasty messages across a number of platforms to both him and his wife, and in a terrifying armed attack on the Blomfield’s home that he has always maintained was related, whether directly or indirectly, to the campaign of abuse. Johnstone set aside the matter of the attack.

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At first, broke and with nothing to lose, Blomfield represented himself in his defamation proceedings, even though he had no legal training. Later he was represented by and had crucial support from Wellington barrister Felix Geiringer. For this final hearing in the High Court, which occurred in September 2023, he again represented himself.

The Whale Oil posts included material stolen from Blomfield’s own filing cabinet of documents, and a hard drive, which had been in the care of a former business associate. ‘Whale Oil has never fully explained the circumstances in which it gained access to this material’, Johnstone wrote in his judgment, despite several court orders that Slater do so. Justice Johnstone stated that ‘there can be no coincidence’ that the blog attacks happened following a falling out between Blomfield and that same business associate. This leads the judge to use the word ‘vendetta’ – a word already applied to this case by Justice Asher of the Appeal Court back in 2014. The Human Rights Review Tribunal in 2019 described the attack as ‘an extended assassination of [Blomfield’s] character’.

In his 34-page judgment, Johnstone outlines the delays that have stretched this case out over nearly a dozen years – ‘delays largely caused by Whale Oil’, designed to obstruct justice, in a litany of non-compliance, contempts of court, interlocutory applications and appeals.

While there have been earlier important steps along the way in this case, such as when Justice Davison in the High Court in October 2018 ruled Slater’s defence inadmissible, today’s comprehensive ruling by Johnstone is the final step: he has apportioned a value to the damage done and made a clear ruling of defamation.

Johnstone’s judgment provides strong validation of Blomfield’s long battle to clear his name and reputation from the defamation published by Whale Oil.

© Scoop Media

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