March 24, 2021
Robert Stewart acted for media company Stuff Limited in its successful challenge to Mr Parker’s attempts to secure name suppression following allegations he was connected to a major drug syndicate were revealed in court.
During the 2019 trial of three men accused of importation and supply of methamphetamine, there were a number of references to a third party said to have had some involvement in the offending or association with one or more of the offenders. An aspect of the Crown’s case against the three accused involved the allegation that the third party was Mr Parker. However, Mr Parker was not charged and although he was approached by police, he did not make any statement. The police obtained a warrant to search his home but did not execute it. Mr Parker sought name suppression but this was refused by the trial Judge. He appealed unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal and then sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, but before that application had been dealt with Mr Parker established that one group of references to a person called “Joe” during the trial, which indicated an involvement in changing New Zealand currency for one of the offenders, was not Mr Parker. The Crown accepted that but argued other there were other references indicating Mr Parker was involved in the exchange of currency, had arranged for the purchase or supply of small quantities of drugs and had put one of the men charged in contact with an alternative supplier. Mr Parker was not charged with any offence arising from those incidents alleged by the Crown and he denied having any involvement.
Both the first High Court judgment and the first Court of Appeal judgment proceeded on the assumption that there were three relevant groups of references to Mr Parker at the trial. Once it was established that the person referred to in one of these groups of references was not, in fact, Mr Parker, he applied again to the High Court for name suppression. His renewed application was unsuccessful, as was his second appeal to the Court of Appeal, which held that although Mr Parker was likely to suffer undue hardship as a result of being named that was outweighed by the principle of open justice in the circumstances of the case.
Mr Parker sought leave to appeal the second Court of Appeal judgment to the Supreme Court, but that application was dismissed on 11 March 2021 (Parker v R  NZSC 20). The Supreme Court said that Mr Parker’s case was “that the Court of Appeal was wrong not to exercise its discretion in favour of suppression. In reality, the applicant is seeking a further consideration of his position, which has now been determined against him on four separate occasions, albeit that the first two occasions were based on a mistaken understanding of the factual position.”
High Court judgment can be found here.
Court of Appeal judgment can be found here.
Supreme Court judgment can be found here.
Robert regularly appears for the media on matters relating to suppression, defamation and all other areas of media law.