At www.newsroom.co.nz on 19 September, 2022 an article appeared called “The terror of publishing Nicky Hagar”, which was a self authored piece by Robbie Burton of Potton & Burton, that published the book, Whale Oil – an advertorial of sorts.
The article is an interesting insight in to how Potton & Burton operate – with Robbie Burton stating “Every book could destroy the company”…
In the article Robbie Burton is very matter of fact about how they do what they do, and how they do it – get their books done in secrecy, giving the other side no chance to reply and thus creating a media firestorm, thereby significantly reducing the window for any legal action to be successful. By the time any injunction could be drawn up and filed with a Court, it was too late, the damage was done, and therefore an injunction is unlikely to be granted (according to Robbie Burton).
Spring says “that tactic was definitely at play with Whale Oil book, however a series of events curtailed that happening and there was a leak to me that a book had been written, was about to launch, and that it was likely highly defamatory of me and others… what also points to the book being a “hit” job was the fact that so many people named in the book were never contacted for comment, or an interview, or to see if they held information that would prove a whole other side to the story, or that in fact the information the author was relying on what was simply a load of rubbish” Spring goes on to say “given the situation with the Blomfield V Slater defamation case having dragged on for nearly 10 years, you’d have to question the morals and journalistic ethics of those involved as it was quite obvious that all may not be as seems”. Spring believes that Blomfield is in fact abusing the court process by never completing the case.
But here is where it gets interesting, and goes to Spring’s theory the book was a deliberate “hit” job. Once Spring was made aware that the book existed, and copy was provided to him from a source who managed to get a ticket to the night of the book launch, Spring the very next day wrote to Potton & Burton advising them that the book was false, defamatory, and contained untrue statements. Spring says “I supplied the publishers with a copy of the pages that were defamatory, and copies of supporting evidence to prove the book was wrong in its allegations, yet the publisher decided to flick me, and others the middle finger and pushed on with distributing the book anyway”
Spring immediately made requests under the Privacy Act, with the response being of utter contempt, and sheer arrogance. It was an indication of things to come.
Spring wrote to Robbie Burton on 17 May 2019, only to be advised the book was to be published on 28 May 2019, despite the plethora of evidence Spring had provided to Potton & Burton to support his position that the book was clearly wrong.
The publisher quite clearly had another agenda that it was running, and Spring is of the view that it was designed as an attempt to sway the outcome of the Blomfield V Slater case by being in the public domain as the trial started, possibly to have the book admitted into evidence. Spring says he holds emails that shows the desperation of Matthew Blomfield, Margie Thomson, and others who were wanting the book in the public domain much sooner; however that did not happen.
Spring says “we will be running a story on that timeline in the near future”.
On 30 November 2022 Spring wrote to Robbie Burton asking him for comment – a copy of that email and questions that need answers are below
G’Day Robbie,Trust you are well despite the current embarrassment you find yourself in with the insurers!No doubt you have seen the blog which is disclosing the real story, the truth as they say with regard to the Whale Oil book you decided to publish.As you will recall I sent a series of emails to you as soon as I heard about the book, and long before my successful defamation claim against you and the author Margie Thomson.Those pre court case emails will be the subject of a story or 2 in the coming days, so I was wondering if you wanted to provide a comment or quote I can use?With the benefit of hindsight do you think it would have been better to have addressed the emails I sent you in a more professional manner?With what you now know the overwhelming evidence to be, do you regret not taking the evidence I supplied more seriously?When I sent you the emails with copies of evidence and the actual page numbers of the book did you talk to either Margie Thomson or Matthew Blomfield?If so what did either of them say?With the benefit of hindsight do you think the lawyer, and supposed defamation expert, Steven Price made the right call when he clearly had no plausible evidence to rely on when assessing the book and its actual evidential quality?On May 20, 2019 you sent an email to Margie Thomson saying you had referred my, and Carrick Graham’s email to a lawyer “but little did they know it was Matt Blomfield” – would you concede that was error of judgement given the lies Matthew Blomfield told you in order to get the book published?Or is the use of Matthew Blomfield, who thinks he knows the law, the way you run your legal advice which then becomes an issue for the unfortunate insurers?Would you agree the book “was a hit job” on myself and others given you never spoke to any of us, nor did you talk with the likes of the NZ Police to verify the allegations?If you can reply by 4pm Thursday 1 December 2022 that would be much appreciated.I can assure you that your side of the story is very important to me, unlike how your author and firm have treated me. I prefer a fair and balanced approach.PS I have obtained correspondence from the NZ Police that discloses the dates when all the nonsense complaints by Matthew Blomfield were filed after investigation, and ended by them, and that was well before you decided to publish the book – I guess he never told you about that either. Some back as far as 2015.
Spring says at the time of publishing this story, “Robbie Burton had not responded, however if he does, we will of course publish his reply unedited for our readers. We also wrote some time back to Nicky Hagar asking for a response to his front cover quote ‘A masterpiece of meticulous research and compelling story-telling’ – he has also yet to reply”.
Perhaps the story here is “The terror of publishing Margie Thomson” … The financial pain for the insurers continues. Spring says “I think the book was written with the view that if nobody sued they would get away with it, and if anyone did sue, then insurance would simply step in”. Clearly they never bargained on a self represented plaintiff in Marc Spring filing his defamation claim and taking them to task.
We have recently obtained new information from the NZ Police with regard to when the various investigations into the complaints made by Matthew Blomfield were completed, and they were long before the book was published, which provides for further questions to be asked of both Margie Thomson and Potton and Burton… that story is up next