Who else would stand up for the silenced?

The battle against censorship and the fight for free speech sometimes takes us to our country's highest courts and authorities. 

I’m Hannah, the Senior In-House Counsel for the Union. I’m here to advise the team, advocate for you, and lead the legal charge to defend your speech rights.

After experience in civil litigation, employment, commercial, and private client matters, I came on board ready to advocate for a value that’s deeply important to me and our country. 

Today I want to update you on our legal cases. But before I do that, I have big news to share.

New Zealand First picked up our drafted legislation: free speech for all in public venues

On Friday afternoon, we heard that New Zealand First has picked up our drafted legislation to protect all Kiwis' access to public venues as a Member's Bill. 💪

No matter who you are or your ideological position, you should have access to publicly funded venues. We drafted this legislation with former judge Dr. David Harvey and in consultation with the Law Commission to do just that. 
You'll know that we've already contributed significantly to case law in this area when we've ensured councils don't pick and choose who gets a voice at public venues based on 'health and safety'. Our legislation will take that further. 

We look forward to seeing the Bill move through the House. This is what change looks like. Together, we're making history.

More legal cases than we've ever had

We have five major legal cases on the go at the moment.

The Free Speech Union has never had this many legal cases at any one time.

By working in-house, I help to fight our cases in the most efficient and cost effective ways. But, the reality is that legal fights aren’t cheap.  

We’re juggling a lot. But I just keep coming back to this: If we don’t help and defend those unjustly silenced, who will?

These stories would just slip under the radar over and over again if we weren’t here to shine a light on them.

Here’s the latest:

Lucy Rogers:

Last month we filed a lawsuit in the High Court against the Attorney-General for the unlawful arrest of a peaceful protestor, Lucy Rogers. Our claim has been served and we are now waiting for them to file a Statement of Defence.

Paul Burns:

On Friday 17 May, Paul, an anti-abortionist, appeared in the Wellington District Court to defend a charge for offensive language which carries a maximum fine of $1,000.

On the day of the hearing, we were advised that the Police bumped the charge up to disorderly conduct which carries a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment or a $2,000 fine. We’re waiting to be advised on the next Court date and an updated Summary of Facts to justify this new charge.

Christine Massof:

Last month we filed a Personal Grievance with the Employment Relations Authority against IRD for unjustified disadvantage and discrimination after she was labelled “anti-trans" and told she was breaching IRD's ‘inclusive' policies. The Authority has directed Christine and IRD to a mediation next month. 

Suzanne Smith:

We are waiting on the release of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal decision following the hearing last month. The Tribunal will determine whether Suzanne, a nurse who lost her job for not taking the Covid vaccine, is liable for professional misconduct when she spoke against the Covid vaccine at a rally following her dismissal.


Earlier this year, the Hutt City Council banned an insert of Sir Apirana Ngata's ‘The Treaty: An Explanation" from its premises on the basis it was “racist" and "misinformation". The Council stands by their decision and dismissed our concerns. We invited the Council's Chief Executive, Jo Miller to meet with us prior to us taking legal action but she has declined. We’re currently preparing to file a lawsuit against the Council. 

If we let cases like these slide, each one would set a bad precedent that will be used to silence many more. Would you continue to support our work?

You might not agree with the messages of the people listed above. But you and I both know that we’ve got to stand up for those we disagree with today so that our voice can be heard tomorrow.  

It’s only with your help that we’ve come this far (and had wins like our drafted legislation making it as a Member's Bill).

It’ll be only with your help that we can continue to defend people like you and me, just going about their lives, speaking up about what’s important to them.  

Let’s stand for justice. We can’t let the censorial bullies win. 

Hannah Clow
Senior In-House Legal Counsel 
Free Speech Union


PS. New Zealand First picked up our drafted legislation created to protect free speech and Kiwis' access to public venues! We have five legal cases on the go right now - this is more than ever before. Will you play a part in our next free speech wins? 

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  • Nadia Braddon-Parsons
    published this page in Blog 2024-06-05 10:06:18 +1200

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