Courtroom
19/07/2018
Dieuwe de Boer
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Legal Proceedings Against Mayor Goff Have Been Filed

Yesterday afternoon, Jordan Williams from the Free Speech Coalition announced that legal proceedings have been filed against the Auckland Council under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

More than a thousand New Zealanders have donated to the cause.

This email is to provide you an update on progress and what your financial support has enabled. As you will see below, we have just now issued court proceedings.

Our lawyers have been following Mayor Goff's public comments since we announced the campaign to defend free speech. In short, he is all over the park. One moment he is taking the credit for banning the speakers because of their views, but the next he says it was an independent decision by Auckland Live (part of the Council-owned Regional Facilities Auckland) due to safety concerns.
 
It appears the Mayor has received legal advice that he is on shaky ground. He is trying to backpedal on his original reasoning and distance himself from his own tweets:

While Goff was happy to "take credit" when the event was cancelled, he is now trying to shift the blame.

If the security concerns were genuine, you would think the Council would have spoken to the organisers, or the Police, prior to unilaterally cancelling the event. In any case, the only conversation with the Police was a single exchange while the Mayor was at a social function.

There is one other important bit to highlight, which is that at this point the event is still in limbo:

So far no privately-owned venues in Auckland have been found to be available or suitable in such a short time frame.

I can confirm that is indeed the case. There is a huge cost involved in organising such an event, and so the organisers need something big enough to make it worthwhile for everyone. A number of suitable private venues (of which there are not many) were all booked out and the hunt is still on. The Auckland Council has spend decades building up a near monopoly on event centres and this is the outcome: they can control who speaks and who doesn't. That's what makes this case so important to win.

You can read the statement of claim and application for urgency and interim orders by downloading the documents linked.