Justice Minister Andrew Little accused of maybe breaking suppression order

The Justice Minister is being slammed for publicly accusing Google of being "evil". 

Andrew Little released a video Wednesday night reacting to the tech giant breaking suppression orders in the Grace Millane case. 

Google sent an email to subscribers of its Trends service in December naming her alleged killer, despite it being under suppression.

"There are some things that are pretty important to our justice system, and making sure people get treated fairly whether as a defendant or for that matter as a victim is absolutely crucial," Little said in his new clip, posted on Twitter.

"We've had a situation where, in a very important trial - the Grace Millane case - a newspaper, helped by Google, has published information that the judge said was suppressed... That's wrong and I've been a bit frustrated by Google not working out what the problem is and what they can do to help prevent this from happening again... My message to Google is 'don't be evil'. Do the right thing."

Little says since the December breach, Google has done nothing to change its systems to ensure it doesn't happen again. 

But Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler says Google has not even been charged, and the Justice Minister himself might have broken suppression orders. 

"In his video, Andrew Little gives the reason why there was suppression. Given the reasons for suppression have themselves been suppressed, I would have suggested that it would be unwise for a Minister of Justice to be publicly announcing what they were," he told Newshub.

"Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty - and that includes massive multinational corporations like Google."

Edgeler thinks the post should be taken down, and Little should be leaving it to police and the courts to look into. As of Thursday morning, it was still up.

"Imagine Google was actually charged with a breach of something - a minister should not be publicly declaring them guilty before their trial."

Little denied doing anything wrong, telling Newshub he hadn't "given any reason for a suppression order in this particular case".

"I am not aware of the reasons for the suppression order this case, nor would it be appropriate for me to know. Any breach of a suppression order undermines justice for victims and offenders.

"Ultimately the real issue is about Google’s systems undermining decisions in our justice system, and Google’s refusal to do anything about it."

Earlier, Little had directly responded to Edgeler's views on Twitter, telling him to "listen more carefully".

"I said a reason for temporary suppression orders is if there is a question of identification. I know nothing about the detail of this case. It would be wrong if I did."

Edgeler, an avid Twitter user, told him it wasn't "a particularly serious breach".

"If you haven't been informed of the reasons, it may not even be a breach. I would end with: if the Government thinks Google broke the law, it should refer the matter for prosecution."

'Don't be evil' has been one of Google's mottos since the early 2000s. Google's Trends service lets users know what terms people are searching for - so if the alleged killer's name was a popular search term, it might show up. 



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