• Full court judgment follows this story.
The bankruptcy of former blogger Cameron Slater has not allowed him to slip free of a defamation case over claims he took money to write blog posts attacking health professionals.
The High Court at Auckland has told Slater, who had a stroke in November, his bankruptcy does not impact on his obligation to obey court orders and submit to examination over his role in the alleged campaign.
Instead, Slater has to prove he is too medically unwell to turn up to court to answer questions.
The ruling is the latest turn in a defamation case which came out of the 2014 book Dirty Politics, which alleged Slater wrote blog posts attacking health academics for cash.
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The defamation case sees Slater accused of being paid to write blog posts by former National Party MP Katherine Rich, who is the chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council.
The case alleges Carrick Graham, who does public relations and lobbying, of being the conduit through which Slater was paid.
In November, Justice Matthew Palmer ordered Slater to provide further material relevant to the case, and to attend a High Court hearing where he could be questioned over elements of the case.
Since then, he said Slater had "sought to avoid complying" with the orders, raising the bankruptcy and medical grounds as reasons for not complying, along with a lack of legal representation.
In this judgment, Palmer tossed out a claim Slater's recent bankruptcy meant he had no part to play in the defamation case. He said bankruptcy was among obstacles raised by Slater who "appeared to intend not to comply with the discovery and oral examination orders".
The judgment shows those suing Slater had asked the court to find Slater in contempt of court if he didn't obey the orders.
Palmer traced the path of the case to its present point, including Slater's lawyer Brian Henry seeking the court's permission to withdraw from the case because he no longer had instructions from his client.
Henry told the court Slater could no longer work, owed a lot of money in legal fees and had sought voluntary bankruptcy. He said Slater's medical condition had his family deciding "he had to be isolated from stress".
Following that, Henry applied to the court to halt the defamation case against Slater, citing a section of the Insolvency Act which ended debt-recovery proceedings involving bankrupts.
Palmer ruled the case should continue, and Slater had to personally respond to questions in court where it was not possible for the Official Assignee - which oversees a bankrupt's finances - to do so.
He said Slater had to turn up to court and provide answers and evidence unless he can prove he is too medically unwell to do so. He said if it was shown he was medically capable, yet did not take part, he would "face the consequences" of the request he be found in contempt of court.
Slater has suffered a fall from grace since the publication of Dirty Politics in 2014, with his previously popular blog losing readers and influence.
In the last year, he has lost a significant defamation case taken by businessman Matt Blomfield, who he had targeted through his blog, suffered a stroke, seen the company operating the Whaleoil website go into liquidation, and gone into personal bankruptcy.