Kensington Palace may have breached NZ law with Christchurch victim tweets - expert

The Royal Family may have broken New Zealand law by tweeting about the Christchurch terror attack victims, according to a prominent private investigator.

While Prince William was in Christchurch last week, the official Kensington Palace Twitter account gave his visit extensive social media coverage.

The account tweeted images of the Duke meeting with Muslim community leaders, first responders and politicians during his visit. It also published a photo and video of him talking to a five-year-old who was injured in the shooting. The girl, who is still recovering in hospital, was identified by her full name in both tweets.

Because of suppression laws, Newshub cannot embed or link to the tweets in question.

Former police officer turned investigator Tim McKinnel says while the tweets would have been posted in innocence, they're a breach of suppression law.

He says by identifying the girl, Kensington Palace violated section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 which grants automatic suppression to all complainants and witnesses under 18.

"There's been a lot of media coverage [of the attack] and there seem to be occasional breaches of suppression orders, which are less than ideal," McKinnel told Newshub.

Prince William with Muslim community leaders at the Al Noor Mosque.
Prince William spoke with Muslim community leaders at the Al Noor Mosque. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Even with the best of intentions, the law exists for a reason. The Royal Family should, more than anyone, be complying with the law. Even if it was done out of ignorance, that's not an excuse."

Kensington Palace is the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as several other royal couples, including Princess Eugenie and her husband. While it's unlikely any of the Royals posted the tweets themselves, McKinnel says the account represents them in an official capacity.

"It's the official account of the Duke and Duchess. There will be some legal standard for who bears the ultimate responsibility."

However McKinnel, best known for his work in clearing Teina Pora's name, says New Zealand shouldn't be too harsh on the Royal Family for posting what was meant to be a celebration of the Christchurch Muslim community.

"We shouldn't be too critical of a genuine mistake made with good intentions."

As for what happens as a result, he says that depends on Kensington Palace.

"There's a principle here. If they are made aware of the breach and they agree it was wrong, you wold expect them to apologise and take the tweets down. If they don't, it might be time for someone else to take a look."

Kensington Palace has been approached for comment.


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