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Blogger in court over suppression charges

Published: 12:17PM Tuesday January 05, 2010 Source: ONE News

The first blogger to be charged with breaching court suppression orders says he plans to vigorously defend the allegations.

Cameron Slater posted images on his blog in a bid to stir up debate about the names of well-known people involved in court cases being suppressed.

Slater is staging a protest over the issue.

"Almost anybody who's got a profile or a reputation to protect can get name suppression," he says.

But on Tuesday that protest landed him in court, facing five charges of breaching two suppression orders.

Slater has been remanded on bail without plea for two weeks to seek legal advice.

On his blog, Whaleoil, Slater published images that police say identify an entertainer and a former Olympian, both convicted of sex-related charges, and both with permanent name suppression. The images have since been taken down.

Law professor Bill Hodge says this case indicates the law is starting to catch up with the internet and social media.

He says how suppression is applied does need to be addressed.

"If it's simply because they have a 'good reputation', well perhaps that good reputation should take into account that they have committed a reasonably serious crime. I think that does need to be re-examined," Hodge says.

But he says there must be suppression in some cases, which is something Slater accepts.

"There's a person in court today who can't be named and I haven't done anything on that case and the exceptional circumstances, because it involves children," Slater says.

He says the blogging community is behind him and he is using social media to help him prepare his defence.

However, not all bloggers support his actions.

"I'm not impressed by this and I think there are a lot of bloggers who feel the same way, that this is actually attention seeking and it's not actually that productive," says blogger David Slack.

In fact people exchanging suppressed information in any forum, should beware.

"If I learn it somehow and I send it on to a friend, I am now a publisher and I am certainly susceptible to prosecution," says Hodge.

Slater will be back in court later this month.