ADVERTISEMENT

No charges and no apology: Young Nat who trolled female politicians dodges criminal charges

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Christchurch city councillor Sara Templeton is now focusing on a review of the Harmful Digital Communications Act.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Christchurch city councillor Sara Templeton is now focusing on a review of the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

No charges laid, no restorative justice conference and no direct apology, yet Sara Templeton is still happy she went through the process to unmask her online bully.

The Christchurch city councillor is now focusing on pushing for a review of the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA), described by one victim advocate as “clunky and out of date”.

Templeton laid a complaint with police after online bully Jessee MacKenzie outed himself in late March as the person responsible for mysogynistic trolling of Templeton and other female politicians.

He made the admission after the courts unmasked his Christchurch flatmate, Bryce Beattieas the owner of the computer IP address linked to the harassment.

READ MORE:
* Councillor wants to meet online bully via restorative justice process
* Don’t normalise the online trolls
* Retired fisherman shocked to hear online troll used his photograph
* ‘I am Eggstein’: Young Nat Jessee MacKenzie admits trolling female politicians, resigns from National Party
* Young Nat linked to online trolling pulls out of October’s local body elections

Beattie denied any involvement in or knowledge of the harassment but he and MacKenzie, who were Young Nats, both resigned from the National Party soon after the news broke in March.

Beattie said he resigned because “it felt like the right thing to do”. He also decided not to run for a seat on a Christchurch community board.

Police have confirmed they received a complaint and investigated the matter. It is understood they interviewed both MacKenzie and Beattie.

“In consultation with the complainant, no further police action will be taken,” a police spokesperson said.

Jessee MacKenzie outed himself in late March as the person responsible for misogynistic trolling of Templeton and other female politicians.

Chris Skelton/Stuff

Jessee MacKenzie outed himself in late March as the person responsible for misogynistic trolling of Templeton and other female politicians.

Templeton said she understood there were three key reasons why charges were not laid. Intent to harm was difficult to prove, the public interest aspect had probably already been met due to the large amount of publicity around the case and police had to prioritise their work.

“When it comes to the enormous workload that the police have and the fact that my harassment was at the lower end of things, I am satisfied with that.

“I am still glad that I went through the process and it’s clear that there have been consequences outside the justice system with all the media attention it has generated.”

Templeton said when she made the complaint she did not expect charges would be laid, but she did want a complaint to be formally on the record.

CHRIS SKELTON

Christchurch councillor Sara Templeton approaches Netsafe after a fake social media account was used to troll her and other female politicians. (First published March 2022)

However, she would have appreciated a direct apology from MacKenzie.

“I think that would have been a really good first step, but it has not been forthcoming. It is disappointing.”

MacKenzie declined to comment. He would not say why he had not apologised directly to Templeton.

In a statement issued in late March, MacKenzie made a blanket apology for his actions, but has never directly apologised to Templeton.

Templeton had hoped to go through a restorative justice process with MacKenzie but because charges had not been laid that process could not be organized through the justice system. She would have to organise and pay for it herself.

The lack of restorative justice available under the HDCA was one of many aspects of the act she wanted to see changed in a review.

“It’s clear the system is not working well enough.”

A review has the support of victim advocate Ruth Money​, who has been calling for a review for years.

Money said the act was clunky, out of date and badly managed and a review was well overdue.

A spokesperson from Justice Minister Kris Faafoi’s office said a review of the HDCA would be undertaken “in due course”.

“The Ministry of Justice policy work program is agreed with ministers and based on the priorities and resourcing available at the time.

“The Government is currently focused on delivering its manifesto commitments.”

Some amendments were made to the act in Marchbut they did not go far enough, Money and Templeton said.

Templeton said it was disappointing that there was no timeframe for a review of the act.

Leave a Comment

ADVERTISEMENT