The Free Speech Coalition, which sought an urgent court hearing over the banishment of foreign right-wing speakers using Auckland Council venues, has amended its legal action after the speakers, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, cancelled their trip to New Zealand.

Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) made the decision to ban Southern and Molyneux from using council facilities on security and safety grounds.

The Canadian speakers were due to speak at Takapuna's Bruce Mason Centre next week but faced strong criticism from the council.

Today, High Court judge Justice Edwin Wylie released his minute on the judicial review proceedings.


The Free Speech Coalition alleged the decision to cancel the licence was in breach of natural justice, irrational and perverse, and that it was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

The group also sought urgency and interim orders, which were heard before Justice Peter Churchman last week.

Justice Edwin Wylie at the High Court in Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Justice Edwin Wylie at the High Court in Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

This morning, however, the coalition said in a memorandum that the application for urgent interim orders was no longer being pursued.

But the group said it still wants a hearing in a month, after having further discussions with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and the council, when the pleadings may also be refined.

Goff told the Herald this afternoon he believed the coalition's bases for a court hearing were weak and he was not surprised by the outcome.

"I'm obviously pleased that they've withdrawn their action, it was always based on grounds that were incorrect, ill-conceived, and their case was weak.

"They've been backing away from it for days now… I'm not surprised they made that decision," he said.

Despite the decision to withdraw the urgent application, the coalition says they have won other key issues.


"Free Speech has unequivocally won on the key issue," Free Speech Coalition member Dr David Cumin said.

"The arrogant claim of power to block what the Mayor calls 'repugnant' speech (speech that might offend a person's religious prejudices) gets no defence from the council lawyers."

The group raised around $90,000 to challenge the cancellation and the role they believed Goff played.

The mayor believed even if the talks had gone forward, New Zealanders would not be interested in hearing what Southern and Molyneux had to say.

"I doubt they would have had much of an audience anyway to pay $79 to hear somebody describe Hitler as a social justice warrior.

"While they might have the freedom of speech to come here, they don't have the automatic right to a venue that is funded by some of the very people they were setting out to abuse and insult," he said.

But Cumin says the coalition and its supporters have called Goff and the council's bluff, not letting them decide who they can or can't listen to.

"Focus will now be on the remaining question relating to the council's duty to stand up to the 'Thugs' Veto'.

"The coalition was never about supporting the particular speakers, it was about principle, which now the council has conceded," Cumin said.

Another hearing for the matter has been scheduled for September.