A man has been jailed for 21 days after showing a "flagrant disregard" for a judge's direct order to remove YouTube and Facebook posts which contain confidential information.
The issue arose when the North Island IT consultant, whose identity is suppressed, allegedly accessed the computer system of his employer and began deleting data without permission.
He was suspended on full pay pending an internal investigation, while a police investigation was also launched and led to criminal charges, an August 2016 Court of Appeal decision reads.
The two parties resolved their issues and came to an agreement, with the consultant obliged to adhere to confidentiality clauses.
However, after the man's criminal charges were withdrawn, the consultant prepared a series of YouTube and social media videos explaining the events.
The clips, which allege corruption, were posted to his website and sent via email to several people at his former employer and other organisations, court documents show.
In reply, the man's former employer sought and obtained orders from the Employment Relations Authority for the man to comply with the confidentiality agreement.
The authority also imposed a penalty on the man for the breach.
But its decision was challenged by the consultant in the Employment Court with the man arguing that the information was publicly available, with some thrust into the public domain as a consequence of his criminal case.
Judge Christina Inglis, now the Chief Judge of the Employment Court, was satisfied with the compliance orders and were necessary to prevent any future breach.
However, the man's videos remained online and the case returned to the Employment Court last month.
At a hearing in Tauranga on October 26, Judge Bruce Corkill said there were "clear breaches" of the compliance orders.
"There was no justification for [the man] to ignore those orders by publishing confidential information on multiple occasions as he might see fit," he said.
Judge Corkill also gave the man one final opportunity to remove the YouTube and Facebook material forthwith, and disable an online file sharing drive.
The consultant said he would consider doing so only after talking to some people and would need at least a couple of days to complete the process.
The judge asked the man if he was refusing to take the social media material down immediately and warned him that he was potentially facing jail time if he didn't comply.
The consultant, who represented himself, refused to take down the videos.
He argued he had acted in the public interest and had qualified privilege to publish the videos. He further said the court's orders were "effectively overriding the public's right to expect accountability in respect of a local authority".
He also questioned whether there was any basis for making the non-publication orders, which prohibit the identification of the names of the parties.
Judge Corkill repeated his comments from an April 2017 decision, and said the man's "apparent concerns could not possibly give rise to a public interest defence".
"Plainly, [the man] was not at liberty to continue his crusade by making further disclosures," he said.
Judge Corkill concluded that the steps taken by the consultant amounted to a "deliberate continuous and flagrant disregard of the Court's compliance orders".
"[The consultant's] failure to respect the Court's orders is egregious," he said, adding that the man also breached the non-publication orders.
The judge said he didn't consider a fine was appropriate, after financial orders had already been imposed on two previous occasions for $6000 and $7500. Significant orders for court costs have also been made.
"I am satisfied that the circumstances are so serious that the Court must conclude that imprisonment is the only option," Judge Corkill said when jailing the man for 21 days.