Stop the suppression


The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a Stop the Suppression campaign and is asking New Zealanders to get in behind a campaign to overhaul the name suppression laws in NZ.

“Sadly all too often child sex offenders prey on unsuspecting victims because they have previously been granted name suppression”, says Ruth Money, Campaign Spokesperson. “The current law needs to be revised to ensure these offenders can no longer hide behind suppression that is granted to protect the victims of their crimes, not the offender”.

“We are encouraging media to stop reporting the relationship between the offender and the victim. This would then allow the offender to be named and the public to be aware and therefore more protected. No one needs to know a sex offender assaulted his niece for example, we just need to know his name so we can ensure he doesn’t end up harming our kids in the future” states Money.

“In New Zealand, on average, 30 convicted child sex offenders are granted final name suppression each year. Where these men and women now live or work is a complete mystery – we believe this is a public risk. Would you want them coaching your kids or running a motel for example?” . . .

Outspoken justice campaigner Derryn Hinch is visiting from Australia this week to assist with the campaign launch and will be encouraging kiwis to sign the Stop The Suppression Petition. . .

The petition is here.

The media often they give details of the case and the relationship with the victim which would enable the victim to be identified.

In some cases suppressing those details could allow the accused, or convicted person, to be named without risking the victim’s right to anonymity.

Sometimes victims are willing to be named but suppression orders prevent them from being identified and often as a consequence from telling their stories which could help others.

Victims should not be made to feel there is any reason for them to be ashamed and giving them the choice of whether their names are suppressed or not could empower them.

Another problem of publishing details without identifying the accused is that it can cast aspersions on other innocent people.

A few years ago, for example, a comedian was accused of child abuse and sufficient details were given to spread doubt over several other comedians who were innocent.

Suppression has a place, but there is a case for changing the law so that the guilty can be named without breaching victims’ rights, to decrease the likelihood of further offending and to stop publication of selective details incriminating innocent people.

A question of reputation


If you have done something which is serious enough to require name suppression so as not to damage your reputation, do you still deserve the reputation?

The law was changed this year to be explicit that being well-known was not by itself a good reason for name suppression but it doesn’t take effect until next March.

Meanwhile, it is difficult to understand why a former All Black gets his name suppressed, at least in the interim, to protect the victim, when a woman doesn’t although their appears to be a case for doing so to protect her daughter.



The open secret is no longer secret:

The ‘celebrity’ charged with disorderly behaviour after an incident in central Auckland in December can now be named after name suppression was lifted at a court hearing this morning.

Sports broadcaster Martin Devlin, 46, was arrested on the morning of December 29 after sitting on the bonnet of his and his wife’s car on Quay Street.

He issued a statement:

I have no problem in admitting that I behaved like a right plum that morning on Quay Street. . .

I sought name suppression in an effort to try and protect my children from being identified and embarrassed by my behaviour.

Obviously the only effective way to prevent that was not to do it in the first place.


And had he not sought name suppression the whole thing would have been done and dusted the day it happened.

What he did is between him and his family, the attempt at suppression made it news.

Famous for being not well known


When someone whispered, via email, who the celebrity seeking name suppression after his arrest for disorderly behaviour was I recognised the name but couldn’t place it.

I’m in good company. The judge who heard an application for continued suppression said he didn’t know who the bloke was either.

Had the accused fronted up and apologised it would all have blown over by now.

Instead of which he’s become famous for not being well known, ensured his case gets on-gong going publicity and given further impetus to the need for changes to the law on name suppression.

Name suppression perpetuates myth


Another celebrity has name suppression and as often happens that has cast suspicion on other people  who fit the description given.

Proposed changes to the law would address that:

Justice Minister Simon Power said when he introduced the Criminal Procedure Bill that the legislation would make it clear that a high profile was not a factor in name suppression.

“Whether or not someone believes they are well-known should not be grounds in itself for name suppression being granted,” Power said.

“Anyone who makes an application for suppression should be dealing with the same grounds, regardless of whether or not they think they are well-known or not to the public.”

That’s a good start but I’d like the changes to go further.

Name suppression is automatic now for some cases to protect the identity of victims but not all victims want that. If a victim wants the perpetrator of the crime against them indentified it should be a very strong argument for doing so.

Another ground for suppression is the impact that publicity would have on the person charged.

There are grounds for this before the outcome of the trial is known because mud would stick even if the accused is not found guilty.

But once charges are proven suppression merely perpetuates the myth that people in certain occupations or other groups don’t commit crimes.

That isn’t the case. All sorts of people commit crimes and who they are or what they do shouldn’t protect them from having that made public.

Allowing many of them to hide behind suppression adds to the shame of the few who don’t get it. That adds weight to the argument for suppression for the next person who’s worried about his or her reputation and so the cycle continues – the impact of publicity would be unfair because people like that aren’t seen to do that sort of thing because when they do their names are suppressed so the impact of publicity would be unfair because people like that . . .

But how can an argument for preserving a reputation have any validity if publicising the act for which someone has been found guilty would show they’ve tarnished that reputation?

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