The businessman who successfully battled Whale Oil's Cameron Slater over defamation claims the blogger's claim ill-health drove him to bankruptcy is contrary to evidence and should be treated with suspicion.

Matt Blomfield told the Herald he was basing his view on evidence which had emerged during the final stages of the seven-year defamation battle.

He said he was making the details public over concern Slater was attempting to gain sympathy from the public and seek donations from readers, as he has done over the course of the prolonged court case.

Businessman Matt Blomfield, who successfully sued former Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. Photo / Doug Sherring
Businessman Matt Blomfield, who successfully sued former Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. Photo / Doug Sherring

Slater revealed his financial collapse through his Whale Oil blog today, following on from the revelation he had failed to mount a legal defence to Blomfield's claim of defamation.

Advertisement

The blog today - in an unattributed post - said Slater had to "completely remove all forms of stress from his life, to lower his blood pressure and to concentrate on rehabilitation".

READ MORE
Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater loses defamation case
Ex-pizza boss Matt Blomfield: Whale Oil and me
Slater's 'journalist' protection fails
David Fisher: Cameron Slater attacked me but I wish him well with his recovery

It meant Slater had made "the very difficult decision to declare bankruptcy" as he could not bring in enough money to fund "the three extremely expensive and in his opinion, vexatious, defamation actions against him".

Blomfield successfully sued Slater and the company which owns his blog, Social Media Consultants, over a series of blog posts in 2012 accusing him of illegal and immoral behaviour.

The High Court at Auckland ruled in Blomfield's favour late last year, saying Slater had failed to mount a credible defence.

The other defamation actions had been taken by former Conservative leader Colin Craig and a group of health researchers, who Slater had written about on his blog.

Blomfield claimed the court action against Slater had shown there was no truth behind the posts in which he featured.

He said he believed the stories about Slater's ill-health were based on "true background events" but the substance was "fiction".

Advertisement

Blomfield said the High Court ruling was followed by Slater filing with the Court of Appeal then seeking to delay the subsequent hearing on the basis of ill-health.

He said Slater was then obliged by the court to provide evidence supporting his claims around his health and "that evidence simply didn't support his application".

"He has told the public he had two strokes, but the evidence showed he had only had one. He keeps repeating the fact that the stroke was caused by stress and that he must now avoid stress.

"However, the medical evidence is that his particular stroke has nothing to do with stress and he is in no more danger of another stroke due to stress than any other person.

Blogger Cameron Slater outside the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
Blogger Cameron Slater outside the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

"He claimed to have cognitive and language impairment because of his stroke, but the evidence showed he had none.

"He claimed to be too incapacitated to communicate with his lawyers, but he was simultaneously engaging in political discussions in the comments section of the Whale Oil website."

Blomfield said the Court of Appeal gave Slater until February 22 to provide evidence supporting his claims of ill-health.

"He filed no response at all. Instead, he applied for bankruptcy. He is now saying his proceedings need to be halted for that reason.

"He is doing everything he can to avoid the consequences of his own nefarious actions."

Blomfield said "this will not work" and a full Court of Appeal hearing next month would rule based on the evidence.

The legal battle waged between Blomfield and Slater began in the Manukau District Court in 2012 and has since involved dozens of hearings.

Blomfield said he had refused to give up after the impact he and his family suffered as a result of the blog posts.

"He assassinated my character, drove my family into hiding, caused untold financial and emotional damage."

The High Court's Justice Paul Davison found Slater's defence "fell well short" of providing facts which supported the accusations printed.

University of Auckland legal expert Dr Bill Hodge said bankruptcy effectively killed defamation actions.

"Lawyers usually say 'I won't get paid and you won't get costs so why go ahead'. They can't get anything so why carry on."


The case would remain active against Social Media Consultants Ltd, which is currently entirely owned by Slater's wife Juana Atkins.

The ownership of Social Media Consultants Ltd has changed on a number of occasions in recent years. At the time the defamatory posts were published, it was listed on the Companies Office as owned by a mentor of Slater's, millionaire and Seventh Day Adventist church leader Paul Honnor.

Ownership changed with Slater becoming the only shareholder by 2013. In 2015, the majority of shares were transferred to Atkins.

Then, in early February this year, the remainder of Slater's shares were transferred to Atkins. This happened just weeks after Slater was registered as the contact person for Social Media Consultants Ltd when it bought, on finance, a late model four-wheel-drive.

Insolvency specialist Damien Grant said the Official Assignee, which oversees personal insolvency, would check to ensure a fair price was received for any assets - such as shares - which were transferred before bankruptcy.

He said a bankrupt was not allowed to be a company director or be involved in the management of a company without the permission of the Official Assignee. They were also barred from travelling abroad without permission, and could be obliged to surrender income if they were judged to earn too much.

Grant said bankruptcy often arrived as a relief for those forced into insolvency.

"Most of the people I have spoken to who have gone through bankruptcy don't find the experience that difficult - mainly because they were living crap lives leading up to it."

Slater did not respond to a request for comment. On the Whale Oil blog post about his bankruptcy, it stated: "Cam will not be available for media comment and nor will his family."