WHALE OIL: One man’s fight to save his reputation, then his life
Truth is stranger than fiction. For Auckland businessman Matt Blomfield, the truth is stranger than strange.
In May 2012, Blomfield found himself the target of a vicious online attack; the work of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. The attack came out of the blue, destroying Blomfield’s reputation and career, stealing his identity, turning him into a social pariah. Two years after the online attack began, an armed gunman came to Blomfield’s home and tried to kill him. He only survived because the intruder’s shotgun misfired.
Many people have been smeared by Whale Oil over the years. Matt Blomfield decided to fight back; to never give up, no matter the emotional or financial cost. He spent seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars taking a defamation case against Slater, which conclusively established that Slater’s vendetta was based entirely on lies.
Whale Oil is a remarkable piece of investigative writing by NZSA member Margie Thomson, who has painstakingly researched and documented this unbelievable story. It is a chilling account of how inadequate our protection is in the face of a digital attack, and a depressing exposé of police indifference to a citizen’s dire predicament.
In the words of Nicky Hager, “It is a book about right and wrong, about standing up to bullies (including standing up to bullies on behalf of others) . . . It is the sobering story of how few protections there are in the digital age against these kinds of attacks.”
Whale Oil is also a story of courage and tenacity, which reminds us how important it is to stand up to bullies, and to be reassured that in the end they do not always win.
NZSA (PEN NZ Inc) upholds principles of free expression, and acknowledges that with that press freedom comes the responsibility to practice ethically and with self-restraint.