Two offenders, different treatments.

See if you can spot the difference.

An Iranian born female MP from a progressive party is accused of serial shoplifting. Her name is leaked to the media, which goes into a pack frenzy even before the Police launch an investigation. She resigns from parliament, declines to seek name suppression (what was the point?) and eventually pleads guilty to several charges of non-violent property crime involving goods worth less than $9,000 (which is a cut-off standard for sentencing purposes). Her court appearance is the lead story in most media even though there are a couple of major wars and several famines occurring, to say nothing of a number of developments in NZ politics and society that are a bit more significant than the travails of a troubled individual. She and her disgrace are headline news in NZ.

On the other hand there is a male Pakeha “senior political figure” in a rightwing party who during the course of a fraud investigation had someone come forth accusing him of serial sexual offending. Eventually the number of charges grew to nine involving at least two victims. He resigned his senior party position once the fraud investigation heated up, and then he was charged with the sex offences. The offending is historical and related to a well known volunteer service organization in which he held senior leadership roles and was involved with young people in a mentoring role. The judge assigned to the case granted him and his party name suppression in 2023 because, among other things, disclosure of their identities might have a negative impact on his party’s chances in the 2023 election. The judge ordered that the suppression order be reviewed after the election.

The election happened six months ago. No review of the suppression order has been undertaken. The trial of this person has been put off until August 2024. As far as I can tell (am happy to be proven wrong), the media have done nothing to find out why his name suppression continues. The Leader of his party has been asked directly about the case and answers by talking about contempt of court. Worst yet, the media has not asked questions as to why a judge would introduce explicitly political criteria into a decision to grant name suppression in light of the seriousness of the charges, which involve physical sexual assaults on minors. During the build up to an election.

I asked these questions in a series of social media posts. I respected the name suppression order but spoke about the background of the case. Although I received many positive responses I also received a number of veiled threats that I was violating the suppression order by alluding to this man, even obliquely. That is besides the fact that his offending is an open secret in the volunteer circles in which he was a prominent figure, his party affiliation and former role is common knowledge in political circles, and his name has been disclosed in a number of social media outlets and even mentioned in parliament (which even if done under parliamentary privilege and struck from the written record, lives on in the video archive of the debates at the time of his mention). I am told by these critics that it does not matter if others have previously spoken of him in direct terms and that I am liable for up to six months in jail for my “criminal offending” (exact words). If so, I am going to have to get in the back of a long que of criminal offenders and the taxpayers are gong to have to fork out a fair amount of public money having the Crown prosecute us. Selective prosecution, say of me, would only worsen the situation when it comes to the appearance of (at a minimum) Crown bias and (at worst) judicial integrity and neutrality.

I suspect that the threats of legal retribution are coming from within this fellow’s political party. The concern is more about protecting him and the Party rather than seeking justice for his alleged victims or adhering to judicial standards about protecting victims and presumptions of innocence. Plus, the threats have a sort of finger-in-the-dike quality to them, as there will be a flood of coverage once the legal circus hits the road. That is, assuming that things ever get to trial and some sort of pre-trial agreement in not reached (which I think is possible at this point. The trouble with any such deal is that it will likely include some form of permanent name suppression in exchange for a guilty plea to some of the charges).

However things end up, there remains a deeply troubling aspect to this study in contrasts. The first is the media’s behaviour. It involves the hounding the former MP-turned private citizen on the one hand, and the ignoring of the other case almost entirely. This follows a media pattern of going after female progressive politicians for their indiscretions while largely soft-peddling similar behaviour from male politicians. Moreover, it is not as if name suppression prevents intrepid reporters from digging into the larger story of the male senior political figure in more depth, even if as background to the coverage of the trial when it happens (there is plenty of coverage from 2021 to last year). The media double-standard is stark: young female progressive gets the full “cameras in the face and shouted questions” treatment, whereas when it comes to this alleged Pakeha male serial sexual predator, there are nothing but crickets.

Even so, the worst part of this sorry dichotomy is the use by a judge in a criminal case of overtly political criteria as a factor in granting name suppression for a defendant–specifically the possible impact on a political party’s election chances if one of its senior member’s name is released before the election after being charged with sex offences. In my view political considerations simply should not be a criteria for name suppression, ever, and even more so if it involves a senior leader of a party about to contest a national election. That the ruling went unchallenged (as far as I know) and that the media did not question the rationale behind it is a disgrace. It brings the neutrality and/or judgement of that judge into question and opens the door to doubts about equal standards of justice in NZ. Even the appearance of anything other than impartiality and neutrality is a stain on NZ’s judicial good name, and this decision does not look good.

I understand that name suppression orders are designed to protect victims as well as the reputations and livelihoods of people accused of crimes (the sex charge defendant’s name was also suppressed because it was accepted by the court that he could not find a job if his name were revealed and he could therefore lose his house). But in this case the victims are now adults, at least some have come forward already, the defendant has been identified in a fraud investigation involving that voluntary organisation as well as in parliament, multiple face-blurred photos of him have been published that are no impediment to identifying him (especially the ones in which he appears more than once in a distinctive shirt at the fraud and sex charge hearings), and the elections are over and done with (his party did well in them and is now part of government). None of what I have said here or in other fora adds any new light on his identity. It is out there for those who are interested in finding out.

What I have done in this and the other posts is pose an open question about media double standards and judicial neutrality in his case. As I said elsewhere, something smells, and it is not the aroma of purloined boutique shop designer brand merchandise.

19 thoughts on “Two offenders, different treatments.

  1. Hi Pablo, it makes me ill to read about this. Like others no doubt, I have questioned Golriz’ motivation and excuse for stealing the stuff … I wondered about the price of the clothing – (which most (most?) NZers incl myself could never afford…) then I read that a friend returned 3 stolen garments to Scotties the next day … It is obvious that she would not seek anonymity in any way … but this other, smells nasty.
    Thank you for highlighting it – I had to go to your 36th parallel to find any hint of the name, there is nothing at all as you say, in the msm, that I can (quickly) find. Refs to financial investigations relating to the individual; nothing about sexual offences.

    On a related note I was amused to see the reports about the Act party leader being spat at -then delighted that it happened to be a local school lol.
    All the rogues gallery seem to be in my town at the moment. Luxflakes has been at field days in Feilding; Peters is to speak at our local Convention Centre sometime in the next few days (a ‘State of the Nation’ address this Sunday – I just checked – who does he think he is?? ) … now Seymour being spat at at our local high school – so it is all rather funny but also perplexing as to why we are being besieged by these miscreants atm.
    Thank you for highlighting another dark side in the Act make-up.
    And yet more gaping holes in our media reporting.

    Kind regards.

  2. Barbara,

    You can follow media threads to see the links between the fraud and sex offence investigations NBR has a few stories worth reading. Also, Maori Party co-leader Waititi mentioned the offender in parliament last year. Apparently the name has been expanded from Hansard but as I said, it should be in the video archive (unless they bleeped him saying it).

    Goon the kids from your local HS for standing up to Seymour. What did he expect when his retrograde policy proposals are aimed squarely at them? That was protest at its finest, IMO. And shame on the principal for later saying that the hake was unacceptable. What a loser. rather than stand up for his kids freedom of speech and protest, he kowtows to the racist agitator.

  3. Yes, re the principal. But then he probably had to do something to appear to redress the seeming impropriety. Personally I think spitting might be a perfectly acceptable way to show ones displeasure – it has been for a very long time, traditional in some societies. Perhaps spat at, not so much as spat on – oh dear, this is getting rather grubby lol. (I wouldn’t like it myself – but then, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking Seymour asked for it – not just for the school lunches, but for all the roll backs and retrofits he’s attempting.)

    Kind regards :-)

  4. Seymour’s a worm, and a dirty worm, but I don’t hold with spitting (and didn’t do so even before AIDS became a thing). You don’t reduce yourself to the other fella’s level in order to make a point.

  5. Barbara:

    Spitting at the feet of a racist a-hole is perfectly acceptable in our culture. I think that coming from kids it was laudable under the circumstances. We are not all colonialist descendants with some colonial ideas about propriety. As for the Pakeha male principal. He invited Seymour onto campus in spite of the school demographic and he needs onto pay the price for that disrespect to his students by being fired. Heck I Know people who have been fired for a blunt but correct email in an educational setting.

  6. Point taken. It is an emotional moment for kids who are being targeted by political reptiles so I cut them some slack when it comes to propriety according to colonial notions of manners and decorum. If the kid had thrown poop, then I would consider that he crossed a line under any cultural definition of legitimate protest.

  7. I don’t know why Gojdris shoplifted and don’t have any experience or qualifications to comment. I do know she has been vilified and been as raw meat to a salacious media both print and online. They used to call it “tall poppy” but it has morphed into something far more nasty, exposing those among us who delight in shaming people. I feel she held herself with dignity when we did see her on TV.
    Barbara Matthews.

  8. Pablo :

    NBR is a subscription based news outlet. That is probably why I do not read them or have them on my bookmarks. I do not subscribe to anything, though I have supported Stuff in the past – esp when they do good work, coverage of something, like the floods last year; and I regularly support the Guardian with one-off payments, because I value their independence and their international coverage and reach. I do not have the essential interest nor spare funds to support subscription-based news sites either here or overseas on that regular basis. I guess I am used to news & current affairs being free – as it should be, really. There will be many like me.
    The last, an interesting comment given the current status of our tv media. In all honesty I haven’t watched either of our main tv channels for ages, and when I do it only results in disappointment, and ‘turn off’.

  9. This is not a good look for the judiciary or the 4th Estate. I’m particularly disappointed in RNZ so far. Especially after this on Nine2Noon earlier this week:
    Maybe something is happening behind the scenes. One would hope so!
    The double standards and hypocrisy is just bloody astounding. And it’s not just that I happen to be related to Iho and his 3 siblings who, one after the other have gone through much the same thing.
    It amazes me that both Brookey Brook and the Karen, who had Iho as their little ‘project’ haven’t stumped up and insisted on some sort of action be taken against this coalition of chaos a***hole.. It makes them out to be bullshit artists with a faux concern for what they purport to stand for.
    I’ll pause here, because I’m tempted to descend into a rant. But many thanks for the post @ Pablo, and best wishes to you and family, all of whom are going through difficult times

  10. Pablo :

    NBR is a subscription-based website, that is probably why I do not have them on my bookmarks.
    I do not subscribe to any news sites, though I do support some with regular one-off payments, especially when they do some good coverage of eg. the floods here last year. But generally I cannot afford subscriptions, and I am not enough of a news junkie to want to do it.
    I am used to my news being free … is that a luxury perhaps? A necessity really.
    I imagine there are many people like me.
    Having said that I have not been to either TVNZ or TV3 for ages; and on the odd occasion when I do, its a turn-off.
    Perhaps it is time for the media to be cut some financial slack by the govt.
    As I saw that Warner Bros approached the current govt for tax relief, which was not forthcoming; and so they axed TV3 news etc. The govt, again, may live to rue the day …. How many ‘rues’ before this charade of a govt itself collapses, in a heap …… I wonder.

    Kind regards.

  11. Barbara:

    I restored both of your recent comments because although they are repetitive in places they are different in others. I found them I the Trash filter for some unknown reason. That happens from time to time.

  12. Yes, I was having trouble – it always says there’s a problem with this site – an error ? And it takes time to load. Sometimes I copy the posts, but it seemed to be working ok lately ….

    …. So I tried again …. as I try now … lets see :-)

    You see, my post is about access … to the best available, and free, media.

  13. I’ve had the same problem on the site with a pop-up saying there is a problem, but eventually my “contribution” comes through.
    Barbara Matthews (Maybe it’s just for your fans called Barbara !!!)

  14. Barbara M (and Barbara T):

    I have not found a way to fix that glitch. The best solution is to just hit send twice. The comment will go through although you may get a “duplicate comment” advice or it goes into the trash. I check the trash and spam filters at least once a day so I should find any wayward comments.

  15. Hello Paul, I totally agree with Paora Sharples that spitting at the feet of Seymour was a very effective method of getting the message across. I’m personally delighted with these young people who seem to be politically engaged.

    This is what he said:
    ”Paora Sharples said spitting in haka did not break tikanga.

    “The spitting is quite common in haka. Done many times at a national level, once again [it is an] expression of just showing your distaste towards a particular kaupapa.

    “In the old days, a whole manner of ways of expressing one’s inner feelings was used [to] full affect during haka.”

    I think we can be confident that these youngsters will carry the torch of protest for their generation. It’s going to be sorely needed over the next 3 years – we need to re-learn from them what legitimate protest is. It could have been a whakapohane, after all. ;)

  16. ‘Two Offenders, Different Treatments’ … not quite sure of the point you’re trying to make. Ghahraman effectively ‘outed’ herself and subsequently pleaded guilty. The second person (and I have no idea of his/her identity) sought name suppression which was granted and he/she is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
    the two cases are quite different.

  17. Vet:

    Yes they are. My focus was on the very different media and judicial treatment of the two cases. The alleged sex offender got name suppression in part because of his political party affiliation (prior to an election), which is a travesty in my opinion. His alleged crimes are far more serious than shoplifting and some of his victims were underage at the time some of the offences were committed (according to the limited disclosure allowed last year). So yes, he asked for and got name suppression, but then the media dropped all coverage of the case rather than ask why political party affiliation was used as a criteria for the suppression order, and why the trial date was delayed until August 2024 at the earliest. As for Ghahraman, media coverage of her case, including more than one “perp walk” as she exited court and attended public events, was over the top given the nature of her offending and the fact that she owned up to her crimes. That should have been enough but instead we got another example of how women on the Left, especially of color, get treated worse by the media when they misbehave. For all the talk of white women being harassed, the vital against non-while females seems to me disproportionate to their misbehaviours. As for white guys, well, boys will be boys I guess…

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