You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Supreme Court rules on name suppression

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/05/2017

© Rex Features Suppression orders have not been breached if information is disseminated to persons with a genuine need to know, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The court dismissed an appeal by an Otago University security guard over a personal grievance brought against the vice-chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne.

In 2013, the man pleaded guilty in the district court to wilful damage and to assaulting his former spouse.

He was discharged without conviction and the judge made an order preventing publication of his name and other details because of the possibility that he could lose his job.

A senior university staff member was at the sentencing.

After seeking legal advice, the staff member disclosed the man's name and details of the case to others with personnel responsibilities at the university, including Prof Hayne.

The university conducted an investigation and the man was suspended until Prof Hayne concluded that a final written warning was appropriate.

The man, who returned to work, brought a personal grievance, saying he had been unjustifiably disadvantaged by his suspension and by the final written warning.

The Employment Relations Authority, in assessing the claim, took the view that the university had breached the suppression order.

The Employment Court overturned the finding, deciding that there had been no breach, and Court of Appeal agreed.

The Supreme Court's ruling held that prohibition of publication under the Criminal Procedure Act extended to word of mouth communication as well as publication by the media.

But it did not not encompass the dissemination of information to persons with an objectively established genuine need to know the information.

The court said the case illustrated uncertainty over the issue and some legislative clarification could be considered.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon