Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has pleaded not guilty to organising and attending an anti-lockdown protest in Auckland – and been banned from encouraging non-compliance with the government’s lockdown orders.
The gathering of around 1000 people on October 2 was in breach of alert level 3 restrictions, which limits no more than 10 people to weddings, funerals and tangihanga.
Charged by police, Tamaki appeared via a video link at the Auckland District Court on Tuesday, facing a single charge of intentionally failing to comply with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act by attending a gathering in an outdoor place in an Alert Level 3 area.
A 53-year-old linesman, Paul Craig Thompson, is also facing the same charges which carry a maximum 6-month jail term or a $4,000 fine.
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Tamaki previously said he was “surprised” by the charges. In a statement on social media he said he had worked with police before the event and had reached an agreement on how it would run.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Ron Mansfield QC acting on behalf of Tamaki, said not guilty pleas could be entered.
Sue Grey, acting on behalf of Thompson also entered not guilty pleas on behalf of her client.
Judge Brooke Gibson remanded the pair on bail and ordered them to comply with any Covid-19 level requirements which includes not attending or organising any protest.
They are also not to access the internet for the purpose of organising or inciting non-compliance.
The pair’s matter will be called in January, but their attendance has been excused.
Much of the hearing cannot be reported due to automatic suppression under the Bail Act.
However, after the hearing, Mansfied QC told Stuff, his clients’ position is the protest was not an anti-vaccination campaign and was intended to be a lawful protest.
He said Tamaki was wearing a mask and encouraged others to wear masks, while QR codes were displayed, hand sanitiser was available and attendees were repeatedly encouraged to stick to their bubbles and socially distance.
Tamaki does not accept he has committed an offence, Mansfield QC said.
After his court appearance, Tamaki again took to social media.
“We are about to make this a landmark case for New Zealand.
“This government has attempted to use a ‘state of national emergency’ to justify limiting our rights and freedoms under the NZ Bill of Rights 1990.”
In his post, Tamaki said the Freedom & Rights Coalition team believe a “Freedoms Picnic” planned for October 16 is necessary.
“Our Prime Minister has told us its safe to picnic, therefore I will be attending a picnic with my family at the Auckland Domain on this same Saturday with my bubble, adhering to the current Covid-19 restrictions, wearing my mask, but also at the same time exercising my right to peacefully protest.
“I am not organising this Families Freedom picnic, I will leave that to The Freedoms & Rights Coalition team who are quite capable.”
Superintendent Shanan Gray previously said the investigation into the event was continuing and further charges or enforcement action against others hadn’t been ruled out.
“Police acknowledge this event was frustrating for our communities, and we want to assure people that the police response on the day was planned and based on operational assessments,” Gray said.
“Police decision-making when it comes to these types of events will always be about community safety first and foremost.”
This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author CATRIN OWEN on date 2021-10-11 23:50:50