Blogger refuses to pay EQC legal costs

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 08:40 29/11/2013
Marc Krieger
FACING LEGAL ACTION: Marc Krieger

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The blogger who leaked thousands of insurance claims online has refused to pay the Earthquake Commission's legal costs, saying his assets are protected in his homeland of Switzerland where he is now living.

However, he will donate to charity if EQC or the Government takes up the challenge to debate him.

Marc Krieger, the blogger and former EQC employee, was this week found to have breached confidentiality when he released 83,000 private insurance claims.

Justice David Collins ruled that the leak constituted a breach of confidence and issued a permanent injunction restraining Krieger from disclosing the information in a spreadsheet at a site called EQC Truths.

Collins also opened the door for EQC to seek its court costs to be paid for by Krieger. But the blogger was defiant.

"Switzerland is my home and EQC is unable to take a cent from me because all my assets are safely outside New Zealand," he wrote in an email to The Press.

Krieger said he would be happy to donate money to help the victims of the Canterbury earthquakes if either EQC chief executive Ian Simpson or Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee agreed to debate him.

"I did release the spreadsheet in the spirit of liberty and in defiance of the High Court's unlawful order."

He had moved for proceedings to be dismissed against him but later requested a trial by jury.

But at the High Court hearing in Wellington Krieger was unrepresented.

He told The Press that he had "boycotted" the trial because he believed the High Court lacked jurisdiction.

Justice Collins said the ruling would make it clear that such disclosures of private information had consequences.

In March, a spreadsheet containing customer claim numbers, addresses and repair progress information was mistakenly emailed to Christchurch businessman Bryan Staples.

EQC asked for High Court assistance to prevent disclosure of confidential information in a spreadsheet, and an interim injunction was granted.

A blogger, later revealed as Krieger, obtained the spreadsheet, and its contents were later able to be viewed on an overseas website.

Staples, who was originally suspected by EQC, was awarded more than $7000 in costs by the High Court after the commission had no information to suggest he supplied material to the Krieger.

Justice Collins said the personal information was confidential and because Krieger had received it from a disgruntled and unknown employee he would have known he was not permitted to receive or publish it.

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"It was not for Mr Krieger to take it upon himself to tell the world at large the details of individual claims," he said.

Krieger said he had no plans to return to New Zealand he only wished EQC and its lawyers at Chapman Tripp had not wasted "hundreds of thousands" of dollars on the "frivolous case".

He is also facing contempt-of- court charges.

- The Press

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