Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Selwyn sentenced

Tim Selwyn has been sentenced to two months in prison for sedition and for his role in an axe attack on the Prime Minister's electorate office. He was sentenced to a further 15 months on unrelated fraud charges.

I've already said that the sedition prosecution and verdict (as opposed to the willful damage one) was shameful and an outrage against freedom of speech, and I stand by it. Selwyn should have been - and was - prosecuted for sticking the axe through the window. But he should never have been prosecuted for the pamphlets. While they called for "like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action of their own", this falls far short of the "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre" standard which should prevail in a democratic society. They also fell far short of actual incitement, and it is telling that the police chose to resurrect the archiac crime of sedition, with its broad language criminalising not just incitement, but also encouragement of "violence, lawlessness, or disorder", rather than the crime they were indirectly accusing Selwyn of: inciting criminal damage.

The worry now is that the police will use this law to crack down on "non-mainstream" political speech, exactly as they have done in the past. The only way to prevent that is by repealing the law. Hopefully we'll see some progress on that front soon.

Updated: Somehow, I managed to leave the bottom off this when I posted it.


I agree that the sedition charge is ridiculous, and should never have been brought... and I realise this has been a theme of your's for some time (which I've found very interesting)

But I just want to comment, that any sympathy or respect I had for Tim, as an outspoken activist (despite having views contrary to my own), has been thrown down the gurgler with the convictions for using false ID's and dead peoples IRD#'s, to defraud work & Income. This lumps him down with Huata, Capill, etc. in my view.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/18/2006 01:54:00 PM

Only slightlty OT, I see PTF has been given a $400k makeover and let off. I guess he will be warming the back benches for the rest of his career though.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/18/2006 04:22:00 PM

I guess I can now mention this, as the sentencing is over, but please feel free to delete if not. Selwyn had already done 6 months for electoral fraud back in 1998 (I think) which is probably why he isn't eligible for home detention and got so much time for the fraud part.

Posted by Span : 7/18/2006 04:44:00 PM

Here's a link to Bomber's take on it all:


Apparently the fraud stuff was historic, as in 10 years ago.

Posted by Span : 7/18/2006 04:51:00 PM

Noddy: I'd like to do my nut about that, but Tuesdays are always bad for time...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/18/2006 04:57:00 PM

Bomber’s “take” is somewhat fishy. You’re right, Span, the electoral fraud for which Selwyn did time was about 10 years ago. The new dishonesty convictions relating to passports, birth certificates, benefits, and IRD numbers under the names of dead people presumably relate to offences occurring between 10 years ago and now. If Selwyn admitted them so readily, I imagine there was some pretty damning (i.e. hard, current) evidence and nothing “historic” about it.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/18/2006 05:52:00 PM

Wonderful. We now live in a country were making a serious personal protest about vast and thoroughly racist governmental theivery will see the weight of the police and every government ministry in the book set to work over your life's history with a fine tooth comb.

Well shit, I'm sure that won't put anyone off the idea of speaking up, what with so few of us ever having broken a single law. Fascist bastards.

Time and cause for a statutue of limitations if ever I saw it. Fat chance of that I suppose.

Posted by tussock : 7/19/2006 03:56:00 AM

i was at auck.uni with bomber and mr. abaford around the time the original charges were laid for electoral fraud. the take at the time was that it was a colossal joke.

selwyn had done some stupid 'radical' shit to 'fck things up'. he was seen as a bit of a loon, but not much more.

so on balance the fraud charges probably hold, he has a history of fraudulent behaviour. but the sedition charges kind of go to show what happens when you give the PM a serious scare. a misapplied archaic law.

the two months for sedition are a disgrace.

anyone know where he's serving his sentence? if it's anything less than low security, another disgrace.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/19/2006 07:18:00 AM

neil this has nothing to do with left/right.

i don't agree with his actions, i disagree with the stupidity of the charge itself. 'vandalism' and a charge reflecting the seriousness of the threat of violence would have been realistic.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/20/2006 07:12:00 AM