Paedophile lost job after being named on website

Photo / File / Martin Sykes
Photo / File / Martin Sykes

A convicted paedophile claims he was sacked from his high-paying job as a company CEO when a website published details of his offending 36 years after the crimes.

The Director of Human Rights Proceedings told a Human Rights Tribunal hearing at the Auckland District Court that the 58-year-old had his privacy breached by the Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST).

The Trust refused to permanently remove the man's name and offending details from its website after a court minute revealed no record of a permanent suppression order the man claimed he was granted when he was sentenced to 12 months' prison in 1995.

Today Simon Judd, acting for the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, told a court there was "scope for huge damage to be done" to the man and his wife if he was not granted interim name suppression.

He said the alleged breach of the man's privacy would be debated later this year, at which point the Human Rights Tribunal would also rule on whether the man deserved permanent suppression.

Mr Judd said the man's name needed to be suppressed in the meantime.

"Unless he has interim suppression orders, not only will he and his partner risk suffering continuing harassment and distress, but this new business they've been trying to run is going to be damaged," Mr Judd said.

The man was aged in his early 20s when he offended against two girls in 1975 and 1977.

He was convicted of five offences in 1995 and articles in the Press the following day did not name him.

Mr Judd said the fact other court stories in the same day's newspaper named other offenders showed there was "a reasonable and proper inference to be drawn ... that the name was suppressed".

"Why else would the journalist name defendants in all of the other articles but not in that one?" Mr Judd said.

He said there was no publication of the man's name until 2009, by which time the man had "done very well in his business life" and was earning about $150,000 as the chief executive of a "significant organisation".

It was then that a "blackmail letter" was sent to the chairman of the organisation, after which the company initially "supported" its CEO.

"But the anonymous person [behind the letter] didn't give up with that," Mr Judd said.

"They then circulated the internal police record to ... the organisation."

It was after this that the paedophilia convictions were published on the SST's online offenders' register, and the man eventually lost his job.

In October 2009 the man's lawyer wrote to the SST, which removed the man's details temporarily.

When they were republished in November that year a complaint was made to the Privacy Commissioner, which investigated and formed an opinion that the Trust "had interfered with the aggrieved person's privacy".

The commissioner also found that the official police report on the man had been "wrongfully obtained from the police computer" before it was circulated to the offender's employers.

David Garrett, representing the SST, said the organisation would fight the bid to suppress the man's name in the interest of open justice.

At the conclusion of today's hearing the man was granted interim name suppression. A decision on the alleged privacy breach was reserved, and the Tribunal is expected to publish it within days.


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