Boy-love man wins right to sue police
Monday, 17 September 2007, stuff.co.nz
The former president of the now defunct Australasian Man-Boy Love Association has been given the go-ahead to sue police for $250,000 damages for alleged breaches of his rights.
Gerald Moonen says police have provided information that has led to him being tagged with Interpol as a "suspected paedophile", a claim which Mr Moonen denies. As a result Mr Moonen says Australian authorities harassed him in 2002 when he went to Bribie Island, Queensland, to take up a friend's offer of a free house to live in for the rest of his life.
In a decision issued in the High Court at Wellington, Associate Judge David Gendall said that in court documents Mr Moonen says he is not and never has been a paedophile, and that he has never been charged with or convicted of any sexual offence. Judge Gendall said Mr Moonen set up the Australasian Man-Boy Love Association and was its president. It ceased to function in 1998. Its purpose was "advocating a change in societal attitudes to loving sexual relationships between adult men and boys".
Mr Moonen said that when he went to Australia, customs officials questioned him in a way he thought indicated they had received the list wrongly describing him as a suspected paedophile. Less than three weeks later police searched the Bribie Island house where he was living. It was the final straw and Mr Moonen left Australia two days later, being searched and questioned by customs in both countries on his return trip to New Zealand. As a result he has sued the attorney-general, on behalf of police and customs.
The attorney-general asked for the case to be struck out on the grounds it could not possibly succeed but Judge Gendall said the only hopeless part was a claim based on an alleged breach of Mr Moonen's right to be presumed innocent. The judge said he was not aware of any cases, outside of criminal court process, recognising a right to be presumed innocent till proven guilty.
Saying someone was a "suspected paedophile" could lead to claims alleging defamation, and breach of privacy, but not a civil claim that presumption of innocence had been breached, he said. He struck out that part of the claim but said other grounds could proceed relating to Mr Moonen's rights to adopt and hold opinions without interference, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.