COVID MISINFORMATION – THE TIDE IS TURNING … AND SUE GREY IS HELPING IT TO TURN
by Mike Bee
On Monday 24th July, I attended a one-day disciplinary tribunal set up to examine the conduct of lawyer Sue Grey – an enquiry as to whether anything she had done in connection with the covid response in New Zealand had breached her duties as a lawyer and “brought her profession into disrepute”. The charges came from actions Sue had taken in trying to counter the flood of misinformation that the New Zealand public were subjected to during our time of lockdowns, covid jabs and mandates. A number of individuals had filed affidavits alleging she had caused them distress. We didn’t hear about these specifically, but all charges stemmed from an investigation by the Nelson Standards Committee into 27 separate complaints made about her. These were the charges that had been brought against her which Sue set out to refute.
The public gallery was filled with Sue’s supporters who somehow managed to restrain themselves from expressing their support or disapproval verbally. Some of these people were from the political umbrella party that she co-leads, Freedoms NZ, or her own Outdoors Party. Sitting right next to me there was one journalist from Stuff – more about him later!
The panel of five judges, all women, presented an intimidating sight as they came in together. The question many of us were asking to ourselves was whether this was going to be some kind of kangaroo court where the members had already made up their minds that Sue was guilty in order to have her voice silenced or would this organ of the judiciary assert its independence from government dictates?
The first half hour made me feel things were loaded against Sue, as the chair repeatedly interrupted her, questioning the validity of what she said. Sue, was never put off, and gradually it became clear that this questioning was being conducted, not in order to silence her but to assist the facts to come out. These facts were like a summary of the whole experience of the covid response in New Zealand. They took considerable time to be presented.
Building up slowly a narrative of what has motivated her to conduct herself as she has, Sue often referred back to the New Zealand Bill of Rights and a case known as the Fitzgerald Case of 2021 whereby even lower courts in New Zealand are compelled to make verdicts that conform to the Bill of Rights. Under this document, the New Zealand public is guaranteed certain inalienable rights such as freedom of thought and the right to have one’s own opinions (Article 12) and freedom of expression (Article 13). Specific to the covid situation, New Zealanders were also guaranteed the right not to be deprived of life (Article 8), the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation (Article 10) and the right to refuse medical treatment (Article 11). Yet, as we all know, these rights were broken on a huge scale when mandates were invoked which compelled people to undergo an experimental medical procedure – called a vaccine but in actuality entirely different from any traditional vaccine of the past – on pain of losing their employment.
Sue had been involved in efforts to stand up for the rights of many ordinary people who were being bullied by their employers to undergo a medical procedure to which they did not wish to give their consent. She was a prominent voice in asserting the truth of scientific studies that ran counter to the government’s narrative. Doing so, she was attacked by those who claimed that the information she was giving out was contrary to science and could be given the label of “misinformation”.
As Sue reported, Kiwis had received vast amounts of advice that was not at all scientific. We were urged to “Unite against covid,” and those who thought otherwise were demonised in many ways. Sue showed how she was shadow-banned on social media and how trolls would put incriminating statements on her political party’s facebook page which she was unable to see but for which she would be blamed because, as moderator, she had not taken them down. She, like many others, was accused of “hate speech” because things she said went against the narrative of what was acceptable. It was said that her words had been “disruptive and misleading” and her behaviour “inflammatory to public disorder.”
Far from damaging the legal profession, Sue asserted that lawyers in such situations have a duty to speak up for those who are being persecuted. When our prime minister invoked Kiwis to recognize her government as “the single source of truth”, she knew it was her duty to stand up against that entirely undemocratic idea. She described how all such authoritarian assertions are now being demolished as the truth, delayed but not extinguished, is now emerging worldwide in study after study.
When it came to bringing attention to those who received adverse effects from their vaccination, those who attacked her said that she was causing harm to the families of the victims. Again, Sue asserted the duty she had to bring attention to these injuries and deaths. The media was not doing its job in disclosing the facts, and yet the public had a right to know the facts about the death and injury that the jab was causing. Sue insisted that it was her duty to warn the public that things were not at all as the government’s experts were insisting. Rebutting the allegation that “she showed insensitivity to deceased persons” and “used bereaved persons for her own ends”, she described the manner in which she had made her statements with the greatest possible care and sensitivity. How does one balance respect for the bereaved with warnings of the risk to others? At this point, one of the judges came to her aid by giving the example of a restaurant in which people have been poisoned – you don’t want to cause distress to those who are recovering but you need to publicise the story to see if there have been others who have suffered the same fate. It is common understanding that with medical procedures, everything depends on people being able to make informed decisions when they give their consent, and how is informed consent possible if the public has not been adequately informed of the risks to which they will be exposed by taking the jab?
Sue is a very articulate woman, and behind everything she said, you heard the voice of prisoners of conscience throughout the ages – those who have known they had a duty to stand up against a totalitarian regime and the discrimination arising out of its one-sided decrees. This case was more than one person standing up against a few allegations. As things proceeded, it was clear that much of what she was saying was striking home. Who were these five judges who were listening so intently and asking for clarification? Would they side with the tide that had drowned out so many voices over the last three years or was this a moment when the truth would emerge out of the sea of rhetoric?
There were a couple of breaks, and we all had a chance to catch up with ourselves and discuss what we thought was happening. I had been sitting right next to the senior legal reporter from Stuff, and this was too good an opportunity to be missed. I told him a few things about how I thought the media had not been doing its duty in reporting the facts that Sue was now disclosing. He was very open – an extremely nice person – but coming obviously from a totally different world from mine in that he claimed to believe the media did indeed do their duty by giving the other side. We had a very interesting conversation – the kind of conversation that New Zealand needs many more of, each of us speaking frankly but with no offense being taken and with no lessening of our mutual respect. I told him that all the evil of this time would never have been able to take place if it was not for the media providing cover to the perpetrators of abuse. He listened with real openness, but in his replies played down the damage done by mandates, lockdowns, authoritarian dictates and the suppression of human rights. When I asked him why his paper didn’t go out and conduct interviews with the jab-injured or those doctors whose advocacy for their patients’ rights led them to be disciplined by the Medical Council, all he could say was that he was only the legal reporter and this was not his task. I told him to tell the others whom he worked with to try and start doing a bit of balanced reporting on these matters. Obviously, he, from his position at a desk in Stuff, was hearing a different orchestra from the one I had been listening to for the last two-and-a-half years. “He is a good person trapped in a bad system,” went through my mind, but I also kept wondering if, deep down, he really believed all that he was saying.
After lunch the lawyer representing the prosecution made his presentation which was much shorter than Sue’s. A lawyer should indeed be able to criticise the government, he said, but the manner in which it is done needs to be scrutinized. He tried to give examples where Sue had done anything in a way that could have brought disrepute to her profession, but all of us in the room had the impression that he simply had no real facts and examples to back up his assertions. Against Sue’s earlier statement that she “wore different hats”, acting sometimes as a lawyer, sometimes as a politician or a private citizen or a parent, he insisted that everything Sue did publicly was done as a lawyer and that her status as a lawyer gave her authority from which she benefitted. This was countered by one of the judges who asked him if it would really be advantageous for her always to be called an “antivax lawyer”? It was clear that the judges had indeed grasped many of the key facts of this case and were not simply accepting without question the allegations made against her.
The dogma of “hate speech” insists that certain views should not be allowed to be spoken because they cause offense. The prosecuting lawyer said that this was the case with Sue and that, even if she had not said hateful things herself, she had acted as a “lightening rod” that encouraged others to give hateful replies. He picked on a remark of Sue’s that certain injustices of covid policies could not be sorted out by the courts as if she had been implying that the people needed to come out with pitchforks and do the business of justice themselves. However, the chair herself said Sue’s words were open to many other interpretations than this one, and that this was no case for inciting anarchy as was being alleged.
The highlight of the whole trial came almost at the end where the chair, Ms Clarkson, commented that much that Sue had done might not have been necessary at all if the media had done its job. My Stuff reporter was now sitting just in front of me, and I dug him hard in the ribs and whispered to him to remember those words and to start doing what the Fourth Estate was supposed to be doing!
We do not yet have a decision, but it would go against the tide of events if Sue lost this case. At the end she said very little. All had been said. The body language of the judges seemed to show that they understood that there was no case here to answer.
In my earlier story, “I Fought the Law … and Guess Who Won”, I lamented the fact that I was on trial for breaking a rule while politicians and health officials were not at all held to account for far, far greater crimes than mine. In Sue’s case, too, the real guilty are not yet being forced to answer for their crimes. But this will come – it is indeed coming in other countries – in the European Parliament and in the enquiries of the House of Representatives in America. The tide has turned there, and the waters are strong. Here in New Zealand we are some months behind, but the tide is turning here too. When historians look back to find a moment in which they could see a turning point for New Zealand, perhaps they will note what happened at Sue Grey’s disciplinary tribunal of July 2023.
Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield and Chris Hipkins are not yet in the dock, but the assertions they made with such bravado have collapsed. We know so much now that wasn’t available to us when fear and hysteria ruled. We have the knowledge now that the Ministry of Justice had told the government they did not have the right to prescribe mandates without evidence for the efficacy of the drugs, and we have the testimony of the Pfizer research director that the drugs were never tested as to whether they stopped transmission. And we have the flood of statistics over excess mortality in all countries where the experimental treatment was used.
The judiciary has not stood up to the government except on rare cases, and the rights of New Zealanders were indeed trampled on. Much death, disease, financial distress and emotional suffering have been the result, but I have now seen five judges standing up to the narrative that was being pushed upon us all and resisting it. It is to me a sign of hope for the future.
One other sign of progress was that the Stuff reporter did not start his story with the words “prominent anti-vax lawyer, Sue Grey…” but with something that was much more reasonable!
We do not yet have a decision from the judges. I suppose it is possible that despite all I have written, the judgment may be made against her. We have had so many such things happen in the past. But I don’t think that this time it is possible. Things are different now. Thanks to Sue and many others the crimes of the guilty have not been forgotten, and their time of reckoning will come. Sue Grey is the kind of lawyer you would wish every lawyer to be. She certainly did not bring her profession into disrepute but showed courage and a social conscience to stand up for the rights of the oppressed and resist strong totalitarian tendencies even though it be at a cost to herself. One day, let us hope there will be many more lawyers in this country who have the courage to follow her example.
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