How are Sepuloni and Dotcom linked? NZ Herald manages

The benefit fraud case involving Beverly Sepuloni attracted attention for obvious reasons. She is the mother of Carmel Sepuloni, Labour’s social development spokeswoman.

The party’s leader, Andrew Little, appreciated the situation and stood the MP down from that role because of the possible perception of a conflict of interest.

So far, so standard. But a whole new slant was put on this media attention when Judge Chris Sygrove decided it was reason enough to reduce Sepuloni’s sentence by three months.

He noted that her case was unlike most benefit cases with which he dealt, which flew under the “press radar”.

As much is true, and both Sepuloni and her daughter have paid a price for that.

But the judge might have paused to consider what could happen if his reasoning was adopted widely. It signals that those charged with any sort of crime could expect reduced sentences if they managed to attract media coverage of their case. There would be every encouragement to put themselves in the public glare.

And what if such an approach were taken with other current cases? Kim Dotcom’s long-running fight against extradition on copyright and money-laundering charges would take on a new complexion. Given he looms large on the press radar, he would be sitting pretty.

In such situations, the usual worry is that media attention may prevent a fair trial or be the catalyst for an unfairly harsh sentence. Judge Sygrove has managed to flip such concerns on their head with his errant show of sympathy.

There is no judicial elbow-room in an extradition case. ?You can’t be partially extradited. ?But what does interest me is that the NZ Herald would link Sepuloni’s mum and Kim Dotcom in this way.

It will be interesting to see where the Herald is going with this.


– NZ Herald