Anti-mandate activist Bradley Flutey has been ordered to remove posts he made about a nurse on social media and has been forbidden from posting about her again.
Flutey has been a prominent opposer to the Covid-19 vaccine and the associated mandates and appeared in court last year after he tried to fight off police officers who were attempting to arrest him for not wearing a mask in a liquor store.
He was tasered three times during the altercation and charged with disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest.
He has also been taken to court by a nurse he repeatedly posted about on social media.
The nurse, Lisa Richmond, and Flutey met several times at protests in Wellington and at Marsden point before they had a “falling out”.
Since then, Flutey posted several videos to Facebook and the messaging app Telegram, labelling Richmond a “grifter” and accused her of marshalling donations which she then spent on “drugs and booze”.
He also sent an email to Richmond saying “If you are spotted at any major actions coming up we will wipe all of you out of it.”
Netsafe assessed the posts and recommended that Richmond proceed with a case through the district court system under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.
In August last year, Tauranga District Court made an interim order demanding that any post referring to Richmond should be taken down and that Flutey could not continue to post about her, nor could he encourage anyone else to either.
Those orders were made permanent by Judge Thomas Ingram in November in a judgment released today.
However, despite the ruling, a clearly visible post remained on one of Flutey’s social media profiles today with a comment about how Richmond “makes up stories” about him.
Judge Ingram said the allegation that Richmond was a “grifter” and that she was dishonestly using donated funds was “grossly defamatory unless properly proven on reliable evidence” which had not been provided in this case.
He went on to say that repeating the allegations on multiple platforms was done to harass Richmond.
“In this case the circle of people with access to the posts, and with enough interest in these matters to pursue them is relatively small.
“But there is clearly a community of people minded to engage in activism, and in my view that community should not be left in any doubt that the respondent has stepped well over the bounds of free speech in relation to the applicant.”
Judge Ingram said freedom of speech was a “precious constitutional artefact” but it had its limits, especially regarding harassment and menacing language.
“I am satisfied that the respondent has made false allegations which would materially damage the applicant’s reputation within the activist community, and I am satisfied that there is no public interest in false and defamatory material being available on the platforms used.”
Flutey and Richmond have been contacted for comment.
* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz