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Why Did The NZ Press Roll Over? - by Kim Leighton

Updated: Jul 12



We all know about the rapist film director Harvey Weinstein. He got gagging "Non Disclosure Agreements" (NDAs) against his victims. That meant his lawyers paid the victims to sign a document saying they would not report what he had done.


Until the # MeToo movement, he was safe, because sexual offences at work were accepted by everyone including the police. But after sex offences started to be taken seriously, Harvey Weinstein ended up in prison.


# MeToo didn't really work in New Zealand. There were some protests by students but the biggest story was about lawyers getting NDAs and gagging orders. The even bigger story was the New Zealand press not naming the accused rapist lawyer even though there was no name suppression.


There was no real name suppression though because there was no criminal charge. There were only disciplinary proceedings by the Law Society, and they didn't cover the most serious case - because of the NDA.


It nearly worked though. It must have been very useful for the lawyer to get the advantages of New Zealand's heavy name suppression system but not have to have the disadvantage of a criminal prosecution and the risk of prison. The lawyer kept practising and everyone in Wellington knew who he was, so probably he will just keep practising anyway.


We understand his young victim's life and career has been completely wrecked. Readers will know that victimised employees are routinely threatened by lawyers that if they don't sign an NDA "we will destroy your entire career".


We don't think New Zealand invented the NDA for sex offences. But we do think it invented the idea that victims weren't paid off, just gagged and "destroyed", and we do think the NZ press went along with that, by lawyers and judges changing the law to make it easy and legal for judges and government officials to authorise crimes and ban people from talking about them.


The London lawyer who tried to protect Harvey Weinstein from prosecution by dodgy NDAs was prosecuted by the UK Law Society. The New Zealand Law Society decided to support NDAs like that. It was advised by Helen Cull and Tony Smith, and others.


In 1991 Helen Cull got a groundbreaking order gagging the press over sexual harassment claims against a Wellington lecturer, who if it wasn't her close friend Gordon Stewart was someone just like him. Later she presided over a series of orders destroying another victim of Gordon Stewart's, using fake documents. That series of cases established that, if you got it signed off by an MBIE official, you could make a contract to hide forgery and fraud.


After that, the offenders' rights not to be identified were more important than the public interest in holding offenders to account.


This went mainstream in 2014 through "statutory interpretation" by employment lawyers and MBIE tribunal members.


There had to be a huge corruption of the New Zealand legal system to achieve it.


Corrupt employment judges invented powers to make sometimes huge financial orders. They invented suppression powers.


They made orders to destroy anyone who reported the offenders they were protecting.


Those judges included Chief Graeme Colgan, Mark Perkins, former Crown lawyers Christina Inglis and Joanna Holden, and especially Judges Bruce Corkill and Kerry Smith. They all agreed that they could enforce contracts to suppress reporting of criminal offences.


MBIE officials Anna Fitzgibbon, Jenni-Maree Trotman, Vicki Campbell, Eleanor Robinson, Rachel Larmer, Trish McKinnon ... they all made gagging orders so offences would not be discussed openly.


RNZ did not report. None of the New Zealand press reported.


A contract to suppress reporting of offences is a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. But the invented suppression orders were supported all the way up to the Supreme Court and they still are. This one goes all the way up.


The lawyers and MBIE tribunals raged through the New Zealand legal system for years, until it was corrupted beyond hope of repair.


Another significant change to basic law - the sort you get in a democratic country - was made in 1993 when junior lawyer Stephen Kos represented the British government in a case at the Privy Council in London. He got an order that it could claim the land of lawyer Warwick Reid, who was then in prison in Hong Kong for corruption. This meant that money obtained in breach of a "fiduciary duty" belonged to the person owed the fiduciary duty. Could be very useful if you are a corrupt government official ... Reid became a police informer and was eventually escorted back to New Zealand under witness protection. The New Zealand press has continued a virtual news blackout on him. It didn't report extradition attempts by the British who wanted him back in Hong Kong for further prosecution. It didn't report him being tried for perverting the course of justice and getting a sentence of two years in New Zealand.


Employment lawyers claim the power of suppression was based in the common law of confidence, but the Cull order of 1991 overturned the common law. That says there is "no confidence in an iniquity", meaning you cannot have coverup orders to protect offenders, whether they are sex pests or fraudsters. The Cull order was a completely new idea just for New Zealand. It meant offenders could be safe, if the High Court gave them a coverup order.


A "Cull" order was then used to suppress reporting about the Winebox Inquiry, where the biggest player was Ron Brierley, the corporate raider.


In 2018, another corporate star, Bob Jones, wrote in Law Fuel about how he and Ron Brierley were "plainly wide boys inevitably destined for prison". Brierley somehow evaded any charges though until he was arrested for massive child pornography offences in Australia and convicted in 2021.


Other lawyers have been protected by the legal system saying they cannot be held accountable for fraud or sex offences. They have obtained protection by paying employment lawyers include Helen Cull herself. She was paid by government adviser Tony Smith, though not with his own money (not that his "own" money isn't just New Zealand public money that has been transferred into his trousers). So was government-funded lawyer Geoff Davenport. And the other MBIE officials who have been given jobs principally organising coverups.


Why would lawyers and government officials want to change the law so they could sign off to commit offences with impunity .... ? ... oh ... wait ...


The biggest news in the UK when this started was "Arms to Iraq". MP Jonathan Aitken's company BMARC and toolmaking company Matrix Churchill were bought up by tiny fireworks company Astra. It got the UK Department of Trade to sign off on lucrative but illegal contracts to sell weapon-making equipment to Saddam Hussein. The directors of Matrix Churchill were prosecuted and claimed the Department of Trade had approved the sales. The Department of Trade said it had Public Interest Immunity and could hide the documents showing it had encouraged the illegal exports. In the UK, that argument did not work. If corrupt government officials signed off illegal deals, they had to produce the evidence of that in court.


Helen Cull's order of 1991 meant that New Zealand government officials could get coverup orders if they claimed their offences were "confidential". Lawyers too.


Helen Cull got that strengthened by making coverup orders routinely possible for certain government managers, especially if they instructed lawyers from a list chosen by MBIE. They just needed to get MBIE to sign off the coverups.


That was all prepared using "statutory interpretation" or "word twisting". She used another opportunity provided by her "statutory interpretation" close friend, Gordon Stewart, who wanted to cover up faking of work records of a colleague. He made sure his fake records included fake emails about the "sexual proclivities" of Helen Cull and / or his own manager, Tony Smith. Helen Cull ran a fraudulent "investigation" using Gordon Stewart's fake emails, and the men used public money to buy off a suite of lawyers - Helen Cull's mentee Stephanie Dyhrberg, Christina Inglis' college mate Johanna Drayton, wife of a close associate of former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer Penelope Ryder-Lewis.


We understand that the victim of Helen Cull and her clients Gordon Stewart and Tony Smith reported a change of Stephen Kos' behaviour towards her after his court confirmed gagging orders about fraud by the two men, both government officials. She said that from saying hello in the street, he changed to refusing publicly to acknowledge her at a British High Commission party.


Any lawyer knows that the gagging orders protect fraudsters. Why would a senior judge be publicly rude to help fraudsters?


We think the answer lies in the way New Zealand has effectively legalised fraud and corruption, first of all if you got it signed off by MBIE (the New Zealand Department of Trade) and then if it was covered by an employment agreement.


Do we know anyone with expertise in UK corruption? Oh, Tony Smith, a fraudster who has personally benefited from immunity granted by employment lawyers and judges. He was advising the UK government on corruption when ... oh ... Warwick Reid was having his property taken away by a change in the law and having the benefit of some name suppression we haven't been told about.


Why would these lawyers do all this? Well, what do lawyers do in New Zealand but has to be quite quiet (apart from destroy people by perverting the course of justice?!) ?


Sex pests.


And money launderers.

Money laundering has never been illegal in New Zealand.


The legislation might say it is, but it was only done when Helen Cull and Tony Smith, and a few other lawyers, had made sure it would not be reported. Anti-money laundering that lawyers later had to do is just reporting.


The Winebox Inquiry confirmed that tax evasions involving Luxembourg and the Cook Islands could be laundered using New Zealand. In fact that was New Zealand public money - Ron Brierley as company director borrowed money from the Bank of New Zealand (of which he happened to be the Chairman) and used it to make huge profits tax free. But there was a huge stink and it had to be gagged using a Cull order in 1992.


The Brierley operation was what would now be called money laundering. But the Winebox inquiry was about the Serious Fraud Office not dealing with it. That would be the same Serious Fraud Office where the Director Designate was Warwick Reid (the world's most famous money launderer and now an employment advocate in Tauranga) and a continuing member was Anthony Drake, one of the most serial abusers of the MBIE gagging system. Both Brierley and the Serious Fraud Office got away with it (and Brierley was getting away with sex offences as well). The press were gagged. With a Cull order.


Cull orders were taken up in Australia as well.


This is obviously a very big deal. We think it is too big to be explained by the need to cover up sex offences. High up people were not being prosecuted for sex offences.


We are asking if it is a coincidence that the lawyers who instructed Stephen Kos to get an inconvenient law changed in 1993 were Herbert Smith, a London City firm. That change put potential control of a lot of government money into the hands of officials, not just Warwick Reid's money.


Later Helen Cull, already teamed up with her "statutory expert" close friend Gordon Stewart, teamed up with UK corruption adviser Tony Smith and lawyers for her old university, Victoria University of Wellington, so that MBIE officials or MBIE tribunals could make gagging orders against anyone they chose.


The lawyers were Geoff Davenport and Steve Wragg, brothers-in-law who worked together in London when Tony Smith was claiming to be an expert in "privacy" and gagging orders protecting "confidential" information. Geoff Davenport worked for Allen and Overy, where his old boss Mark Mansell is being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice by getting a contract to prevent reporting of the crimes of Harvey Weinstein. Steve Wragg worked for Herbert Smith. Now he works for Victoria University.


Herbert Smith teamed up with Australian lawyers Freehills. That gave them a route to use Cull orders to suppress "iniquity", because Cull orders were available in Australia. Tony Smith advertised on LinkedIn that he had a little job as "graduate recruiter" with Herbert Smith Freehills in Brisbane.


Campbell MacLachlan, a judge of the international Investment Tribunal, is an old student of Victoria University law school, like Gordon Stewart. He got a professorship there in 2003. In between, he was a partner at Herbert Smith in London.


Tony Smith and Campbell MacLachlan have both had "research funds" from Herbert Smith.


Herbert Smith are required to report "suspicious transaction" because of money laundering rules ...


MFAT and the Ministry of Justice made sure that New Zealand did not get involved in international anti-money laundering. It would have been bad for business.


The Global Financial Crisis meant a lot of changes to lawyers and bankers in London. At the end of it, "financial services" were four times as important to the New Zealand economy as agriculture. Look at our wealthy ruling class. That didn't happen on the back of sheep and cows. And we don't have oil. Look at our lawyers. They are still claiming they can legally cover up illegal deals.


Legislation was passed in New Zealand after the Global Financial Crisis to make it look as though New Zealand was a good place for official investments, but it wasn't brought into force so it made no difference.


The European Union started to notice that New Zealand was set up to do money laundering, not to counter it, and there were several scandals. New Zealand was directly involved in the "Laundromats" - laundering of money, sometimes by bribing senior figures and politicians in Europe to claim that countries with appalling records such as Azerbaidjan were actually well-run places. New Zealand was also important in the "Russian Laundromat". New Zealand was central to the laundering of money stolen by corrupt government officials in Malta, which is now officially on the FATF "grey list", meaning its financial system is regarded as corrupt even though the government officials are now being tried in a criminal court.


New Zealand ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption but it didn't bring it into force. MFAT did not enter it into the New Zealand administrative system and Andrew Little at the Ministry of Justice went through the motions of consulting on the implementation of .... the foreign bribery provisions.


The New Zealand report to FATF didn't mention the coverup orders that allow money laundering to be legalised, by making it something that by law nobody can talk about. Well, it wouldn't do that, would it!


Anti-money laundering is reporting "suspicious transactions". It's legal to get coverups. It's illegal to report about them. That's not "suspicious". It's the law.


So we wonder whether anyone in the international community is ever going to join up the dots. International commercial firm arranging personal payments to international level lawyers - who happen to have made sure that money laundering is still legally possible out of New Zealand and possibly Australia, and are on the spot when it comes to international investments. Hard wired lines to the government, law changed to keep money laundering legal.


Isn't that newsworthy? But, as we know, the press was gagged. Isn't gagging the press newsworthy? Wouldn't the press try to report that?


Why did the New Zealand press roll over? Well, that might be another story really, but the same tricks were tried in England.


The barristers and judges that Tony Smith hangs round, such as Michael Tugendhat and David Eady, developed the law on "privacy", which is used along with "confidentiality" in New Zealand to keep criminal offences quiet. Close connections to Michael Tugendhat and Tony Smith through their Cambridge days include Francis Cooke, who is currently involved in destroying Newsroom in the same way the crooked lawyers of New Zealand destroy anyone who might show the world what they've been doing. They were all college mates at Cambridge, the famous home of more glamorous figures that undermined the state, the spies you see in films ... but only after they have been caught and disgraced by the country they betrayed.


That's not going to happen in New Zealand because the "spies" have changed the law. It's legal to keep on with the money laundering transactions because it's illegal to report them. That law is more important than the rather vague rules about reporting "suspicious transactions". Judges will make sure anyone reporting crimes by their mates is destroyed.


When corruption is supported by the judiciary, the only legal way to deal with it is for Parliament to legislate ... but Parliament called in Tony Smith and legislated for more coverups!


And no New Zealand MP is going to do what legendary series of UK MPs did. In the UK, MPs denounced the paedophiles, toxic dumpers, defamers, sex harassers and rapists. They united with the free press to tell the UK public they were being betrayed by their ruling class.


We'd like to mention one interesting exception. The press exposure of the fake academic and alleged spy, Roger Hollis, by former spy Peter Wright. The UK courts and Parliament tried to destroy him. The Australian courts said he could publish.


So in the UK Parliament and its MPs upheld their right to make law on behalf of the people. In New Zealand, they claimed no-one could talk about it. The MPs and government officials obey what Tony Smith tells them to do. They let Helen Cull and her judge mates ensure that New Zealand is still safe for offenders, at least ones in high places. Judges need those orders too.


RNZ doesn't report a thing.


Not Warwick Reid, the world's most famous money launderer (except for saying he was going to be prosecuted in New Zealand ... then it didn't follow up).


Not the self-confessed thieves and fraudsters among the lawyers and judges - not even to say that actually that's all legal now because it's more serious to report it ... oh, wait ... ...


Not the disappearance of an international anti-corruption treaty or the failure to report the new laundering method to the international authorities. What could possibly be the explanation for the press not reporting the legalisation of hugely money-making offences?


Why would the press not report the disappearance of press freedom under "Cull" gagging orders and MBIE sign-offs? ... oh, wait ...


A few people tried to stand up for the law. Bankrolled by MBIE, a series of corrupt officials and judges, starting with Helen Cull, destroyed them. RNZ didn't report that. Andrew Hooker, a South Island lawyer, spoke out against suppression in a Stuff film, but he was dead within weeks.


So offenders are quite safe in New Zealand, and lawyers can be sure that they won't get caught. Their files are privileged, their trust accounts are privileged, and reporting "suspicious transactions" is more illegal than not reporting them.


Business as usual then is what is legal in New Zealand.


Is Herbert Smith reporting "suspicious transactions" on the European basis, or on the New Zealand basis? In New Zealand, money laundering is not really reportable, because it is legal to do anything by contract. It's all enforceable, so it must be legal. What a useful thing for a big international law company, a jurisdiction where money laundering is legal.


And Transparency International is quite right. The number of people who will say they perceive corruption is tiny. Very sensible if you want to keep your life.


* We do not seek to imply any involvement however distant in any form of wrongdoing by Judges Tugendhat or Eady, or any lack of qualifications. As we have said, the English law does not allow Cull orders nor does it enforce illegal contracts. The Department of Trade was not allowed to authorise arms sales, the law firm that administered the Matrix Churchill Affair was closed down and Jonathan Aitken MP was sent to prison.

























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