Political figure identified in former rich-listers trial seeks Court of Appeal hearing to keep suppression

A political figure mentioned in evidence at the trial of a wealthy businessman convicted of indecent assault and corruption is seeking another hearing in their bid to maintain name suppression.

Documents were filed with the Court of Appeal yesterday by the political character requesting a further review of the courts’ decisions to revoke their anonymity.

Suppression had been due to lapse on March 31 if the political figure didn’t continue legal action.

The Herald and Stuff have jointly argued for the person to be identified after they were named several times by witnesses during last year’s trial of a prominent businessman, who also continues to have name suppression.

The two media companies successfully asked Judge Russell Collins last year to overturn his original suppression order for the political identity, which had been made nearly three years ago in the Auckland District Court.

After an appeal by the political figure, the High Court upheld the decision earlier this month and also dismissed a fresh application for permanent suppression.

The political figure will now maintain suppression until the Court of Appeal chapter is determined.

In his suppression judgment, Justice Geoffrey Venning, who presided over the trial of the businessman, said there is a legitimate public interest in publishing the identity of the political figure.

“The public interest in publication outweighs [their] personal interest in suppression,” Justice Venning explained.

The businessman was found guilty by a High Court jury of indecently assaulting three men in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

He was also convicted of twice trying to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 victim to drop their claims, including an elaborate and failed attempt which has become known as the Gold Coast plot.

Last May, the former rich-lister was sentenced to two years and four months in prison. However, he was granted bail by the Court of Appeal on a third attempt pending the appeal of his convictions and sentence as he continues to deny the allegations.

When giving evidence at his trial, the businessman mentioned the political figure and told jurors it was their purported association with PR consultant Jevan Goulter which attracted him to using the firm Goulter & Associates.

He claimed he needed assistance for impending reputational damage issues as rumours circled he would soon be named in Australian media linking him to indecent assault accusations.

However, Goulter was hired for a different purpose, the jury found. He travelled to the Gold Coast in May 2017 in an attempt to dissuade the businessman’s 2016 indecent assault victim — the first of the three to lay a police complaint — from continuing with the case.

Shortly after returning to Auckland, Goulter and his associate Allison Edmonds then met with the businessman’s manager at Karangahape Rd’s Family Bar. Their discussions were recorded by Edmonds and throughout the conversation, the political figure was mentioned — mostly by Goulter who made several claims.

The political figure’s lawyer, Davey Salmon QC, has said Goulter is a fabulist and made a “highly defamatory slur” about his client. He said the claims the political figure was involved in a conspiracy to dissuade the businessman’s victim was “extremely scandalous”.

The Family Bar recording remained hidden until it emerged halfway through the businessman’s first trial in March 2019, resulting in Judge Collins aborting the trial.

In a subsequent statement to police, Goulter said his comments about the political figure during the recording were untrue. He did, however, accept he talked to the political figure about his own name suppression affidavit and prior to the bar meeting sought and took advice from them about his position in the affair.

Goulter and Edmonds eventually lost suppression but were granted immunity from prosecution from the Solicitor-General in exchange for their evidence for the Crown.

The businessman’s manager, who has name suppression, was also jointly charged and found guilty over attempting to dissuade the complainant during the Gold Coast scheme.

He was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention.

New Zealand entertainer Mika X, also known as Mika Haka, was another who was part of the conspiracy and helped the businessman try to derail the court case.

He was sentenced to 11 months’ home detention after admitting two charges of attempting to dissuade and bribe the 2016 indecent assault victim from giving evidence.

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