Parliamentary Privilege Defended With Important High-Court Ruling

It is  pleasing to see the decision of Justice Doogue today which revised her previous judgment made in November last year.  This ruling is not only vindication but most importantly it respects parliamentary privilege.

It is important that a gross miscarriage of justice has been corrected and the judgement recalled and revised.  That is why I challenged the High Court’s judgement in the first place.

Parliamentary privilege is the cornerstone of our democracy and the Court has today reaffirmed that.

The Court has not only recognised the important role of freedom of speech in parliament, but has also recalled passages that challenged my personal right to exercise free speech – particularly when in this case I was not even given the opportunity to be heard or to defend myself. 

When I first raised this matter last year as a breach of privilege with the former Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, he questioned my right to do so.  I advised at that time that if parliamentarians are not there to defend the basic rights and freedoms of New Zealanders, including those of parliamentarians, then what are they there for?

The Court noted in the ruling that the principle of freedom of speech that underpins the Parliamentary Privilege Act 2014 can be traced to the Bill of Rights 1688, which states:

"That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament."

And it is the responsibility of that privilege that all parliamentarians hold which forms the bedrock of our democracy, and acts as a vital tool to uphold the integrity of the House as a democratic legislative assembly – on behalf of, and for, all New Zealanders.

Today that vital tool and important responsibility have been recognised, restored, and protected.

Read the full ruling below, or download it here.