High Court tosses out Dotcom’s Obama bid

Premature and speculative, top judge says.

The chief high court judge has turfed out an application by Kim Dotcom to request former US president Barack Obama appear before the New Zealand courts.

The internet entrepreneur had made an application to the High Court at Auckland asking for an order to examine Mr Obama, or that his legal team could serve documents on him while he is in the country.

Mr Obama is in New Zealand, sponsored by businesses including Air New Zealand to speak at a business function and sample the country's golf courses and hospitality.

Mr Dotcom’s lawyers argued evidence from Mr Obama could help in their case against the New Zealand government. In that case Mr Dotcom alleges that the attorney-general, Crown Law and the police owed him a duty of care when applying for his arrest warrant and breached that duty.

The internet entrepreneur argued that Mr Obama could give evidence directly material to the issues in the proceeding, and it was unlikely that he would give evidence unless the court told him to.

Justice Venning says the application is premature and, in any event, if Mr Obama had relevant information and was compellable as a witness he would need time to prepare.

Crown Law had little time to prepare for the application but had produced in evidence a series of Mr Dotcom’s tweets which showed that he knew at least by February 21 the former president was coming to New Zealand. However the proceeding was not filed until March 19, the judge noted.  

“Next, on the material presently before the court I am not satisfied that the evidence Mr Obama could give would be of relevance. It is based on Mr Dotcom’s construct that Hollywood was a major benefactor of the Democratic Party in the US and that, in his opinion, the action against Megaupload and him met the United States’ need to appease the Hollywood lobby.”

“Mr Dotcom’s opinion that Mr Obama’s evidence will be relevant to the present claims appears at best speculative,” the decision says.

The judge refused the request and ordered Mr Dotcom to pay costs.

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