Council pays $2k for breach of privacy

Wayne Deeming had his privacy breached by the Whangarei District Council.
Wayne Deeming had his privacy breached by the Whangarei District Council.

Maungakaramea man Wayne Deeming said the Whangarei District Council breached his privacy when it passed on information on a complaint he made about a sports club to the club and others.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal agrees, finding the council did breach his privacy and awarding Mr Deeming $2000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

The tribunal has also ordered that the Whangarei District Council, in conjunction with the Privacy Commissioner and at its own expense, provide training to its councillors and management staff in relation to their and WDC's obligations under the Privacy Act 1993 in order to ensure they are aware of those obligations.

Mr Deeming's initial complaint related to an incident at the Mid-Western Rugby Club on August 8, 2009, which, in Mr Deeming's view, raised issues about the club's adherence to the provisions of the then Sale of Liquor Act 1989 administered by the WDC. Mr Deeming says he sought an investigation into the Mid-Western Rugby Club by the District Licensing Agency. In doing so he relied on a policy by which the WDC protected the identity of complainants.

However, his email was then forwarded by then Mayor Stan Semenoff's assistant Ford Watson to councillor Shelley Deeming, who is the wife of a cousin of Wayne Deeming, who in turn forwarded it to the rugby club's president Paul McDowell. Mr Deeming he was then harassed by Mr McDowell.

An article on the case was also published in the now defunct Truth newspaper where Mr Deeming was labelled "the most unpopular man in Maungakaramea".

The tribunal said that the Whangarei District Council interfered with the privacy of Mr Deeming by disclosing personal information about him when the Whangarei District Council did not believe on reasonable grounds that any of the exceptions listed in Principle 11 (of the Privacy Act).

- Northern Advocate

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