Auckland Mayor Phil Goff hopes those seeking courtroom contests to dispute the cancellation of an event involving two controversial speakers "finally get the message" after another legal win for the council.
Canadian duo Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern, who are known for holding polarising views on immigration, feminism and Islam, were initially due to speak at the Bruce Mason Centre on Auckland's North Shore in 2018.
Goff said at the time the speakers were not welcome to use city-owned venues "to stir up ethnic or religious tensions".
Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) backed out of the deal, while Auckland Live - responsible for venues used for live performances - later said the event was cancelled because of "security concerns around the health and safety of the presenters, staff and patrons".
Auckland Peace Action had issued a press release announcing its intention to blockade entry to the venue.
A second challenge was launched last year by two of the group, University of Auckland lecturer Dr David Cumin and Dunedin bookseller Malcolm Moncrief-Spittle, in the Court of Appeal. Their lawyer Jack Hodder QC argued RFA misrepresented why the event was cancelled.
A decision was released today by the court, again dismissing the legal action.
Goff welcomed the judgement and said: "I personally find the views of the two speakers despicable, but this decision was about whether RFA acted lawfully or not - the Court has found that it did.
"Following their second defeat in court, I hope those who continue to push this legal action finally get the message and stop appealing because it is costing ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees."
Also responding to the Court of Appeal's decision, Free Speech Coalition spokesperson Jordan Williams said the judgment represented a significant improvement on the High Court's decision. But he said they were "disappointed to have lost on our key argument" that the cancellation decision should have been made after alternative ways to diminish the protester threats to health and safety were explored.
"We won on the point that Bill of Rights Act obligations (including freedom of speech) apply to councils and their subsidiaries that control public venues. In other words, councils can't hide behind 'independent' managers," he said in a statement.
"We secured a terse reversal of the lower court's incomprehensible ruling that we were not bringing a case of public interest and importance. We secured a dismissal of the lower court's decision that our representative plaintiffs were on a personal 'crusade' and did not have standing to bring the case."
The court also cut the costs awarded against the group by 70 per cent after being originally ordered to pay $47,472 including disbursements.
Williams said the legal action began after Goff's initial comments.
"We fear that the mayor has been allowed to seed a chilling effect on groups that may wish to host events exchanging politically unpopular ideas," he said.
After the cancellation, Molyneux and Southern were due to speak at the privately owned Powerstation venue instead. But that event was also abruptly cancelled on the day by the Powerstation's owner.
The speakers said it was because of fear or threats of violence. A bomb threat was also made on Twitter.