On October 5 2010, Justice Minister Simon Power announced "improvements" to the current ways in which defendants gain name suppression within New Zealand, claiming it will be "harder to get" under the new regime. The decision was made shortly after Camerson Slater, Whaleoil blogger, was convicted of breach of suppression orders for publishing the names of celebrity defendants.
But has anything really changed?
Today, the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has censured "a doctor," for having sex with one of his teenage patients. Unfathomably, this is not a legal Court case. Don't ask me why. It's a little like Priests who abuse children. None of them see the inside of a Court room either, and now, neither do doctors. Instead, this particular "professional" was fined the maximum $1000, required that a health professional act as a mentor for three years and ordered to pay $62,666.86 in costs. In addition, they granted him permanent name suppression.
Now according to Simon Powers statement, just over a week ago, things were suppose to be "harder to get" and even a local legal firm confirms an order for permanent name suppression is difficult to get. "It is used sparingly as there is a strong presumption by the court that it is in the public interest to make the names available."
Difficult to get? I don't think so and what of that "in the public interest" bit? Surely, knowing a doctor has a preference for sex with teenage girls is something any parent would like to arm themselves with in their attempt to safeguard their children, surely.
The only slight change in this story is the New Zealand Medical Council committee deliberating for a long time before making their decision. Apparently, that's news - they don't usually take long to protect 'one of their own' when they've committed a criminal act. Equally unusual is the committee's reluctance to grant name suppression - it was given in any event, so all's well that ends well, right?
Maybe, just maybe, the problem is the new name suppression law changes won't actually be "included" in a bill set to be introduced to Parliament before the end of the year. Goodness me, it doesn't take that long when they want to introduce those infamous internal wage increases. I'm yet to see something like an 'introduction' to change these, then some months before they're considered before the cronies, and then unanimously carried, actioned, made Law, published, and then implemented... I'm pretty sure they just say "Oi, who wants more dosh? and then count the hands that pop up.
If only every Law was as easy as that.
As a parting shot: It took this woman eight years - the time between reporting the incident to gaining this ruling - to get this ridiculous and "lame" decision.