Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, aka Whale Oil, suffered two strokes in October which have left him partially paralysed on his right side, unable to concentrate and with speech and vision impairments, according to a report today on his blog site, Whale Oil Beef Hooked.
Titled 'Where the hell is Cam?', the report blames media interest in the first stroke for the second and says he is recovering but that "Cam cannot concentrate, read or take phone calls for more than ten or fifteen minutes a day. He cannot cope with loud noises, background noises or being interrupted and he certainly does not have the ability to form complex thought structures. The vision in Cam's right eye has also been affected."
The report says medical results showing "zero nerve impulse conduction" from a test on his right arm suggest long-term loss of the ability to move that arm.
The blogger's medical condition had been fiercely protected since October, but "the time has now come", Whale Oil staff said in the post disclosing the extent of the disability affecting Slater. It also announced a fundraising drive to help Slater "pay the huge legal bills he has incurred as a result of having to defend himself from the lawfare of his enemies".
Slater is one defendant in a defamation action brought by three public health academics, based on leaked emails published in 2014 in Dirty Politics by investigative journalist and political activist Nicky Hager.
Slater, lobbyist Carrick Graham and former National Party MP Katherine Rich lost a bid in the High Court last November to have hacked emails published in the book excluded from the defamation action brought by the academics, Doug Sellman, Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook.
That High Court ruling also required that Slater and Graham be "orally examined" before the trial, expected this year, because of inconsistencies in their written answers to questions posed by lawyers in the discovery phase of the trial, according to reports in the Herald at the time of the ruling.
The court action relates to blog postings between 2009 and 2017 and relate to alleged payments to Slater, via Graham, to advance the interests of Rich's employer, the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, on a variety of food and beverage public health issues, such as obesity and alcohol harm.
The Whale Oil blog site has long been a clearing house for political rumour and allegations of scandal with a strongly right-wing bias. It has a 'take-no-prisoners' approach not only to the political left but also to elements of the National Party with whom Slater has been openly at war.
However, the blog's political influence appears to have waned since the Dirty Politics revelations diminished the site's attraction as a dumping ground for political smears.