Sex offender's claim opposed

Last updated 12:33 19/06/2014

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The Sensible Sentencing Trust wants an end to a sex offender's claim that his privacy has been breached by publishing the fact of his convictions.

The director of human rights proceedings is taking a complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal for the man, whose identity is suppressed in the meantime.

In the Court of Appeal today the trust's lawyer Brian Henry said the District Court did not make a final order suppressing the man's name when he was sentenced in 1995.

The judge's sentencing notes have been lost and an audio recording of the sentencing hearing destroyed.

A District Court judge has given a certificate setting out that the court's record shows suppression was only mentioned once and that an interim order was granted early in the case but suppression was not recorded at later hearings.

Mr Henry says the Human Rights Review Tribunal has no power to go behind the District Court record and the case against the trust cannot proceed.

He says an attempt to review the tribunal's decision to hear the complaint was wrongly struck out in the High Court.

The trust published particulars on its website of the man's conviction in Christchurch District Court on five counts of sexual offending.

Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said after today's Court of Appeal hearing that the man's victims were outraged that the Human Rights Review Tribunal was going into bat for the rights of the man.

Simon Judd, the lawyer for the director of human rights proceedings, had told the court the privacy complaint did not depend on suppression of the man's name being made permanent. It looked likely in any event that unless the interim order was lifted it simply continued, he said.

The case was not about suppression or paedophiles. The broader issues were the obligations on people who receive private information unlawfully obtained, Judd said.

"The issue is what rights do any of us have if a government employee downloads information from a computer and provides it to an outside agency such as the Sensible Sentencing Trust."

The Human Rights Review Tribunal, which is scheduled to hear the claim in August, would be asked to decide if an outside agency could simply put the information on the internet, whether it had an obligation to check the information was accurate, or check with the person concerned.

"What happened to this individual could happen to anybody, it is not limited to criminal information," Judd said.

In 2009 a police employee accessed computer records about the man and distributed it to people including the man's employer and the trust.

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The man says his privacy has been breached and made complaints to the Privacy Commission against police and the trust. The commissioner referred the complaint to the director of human rights proceedings.

The police department has reached a confidential settlement of the complaint against it.

The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision.

- The Dominion Post

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