Alf has huge sympathy for fellow celebrities whose names are being bandied by the public as speculation mounts over the identity of a 46-year-old household name arrested in Auckland.
Thanks to the misguided ruling of a namby-pamby magistrate, the media must not disclose the identity of a bloke who was arrested in Auckland’s Quay St on Wednesday and appeared in court on Thursday charged with disorderly conduct.
That decision has been regurgitated today by the Sunday Star-Times in a report that proceeds to narrow the range of possibilities by ruling out a few names.
Sitting in the Auckland District Court, community magistrate Joanna Sihamu granted an application from the man’s lawyer to keep his client’s name and occupation secret.
Since then speculation has been rife, and TVNZ’s Simon Dallow and TV3’s John Campbell both born in 1964 and living in Auckland have been the subject of online gossip.
Alf’s name has not been thrown into the ring of speculation, presumably because he is obviously much older than 46 and, moreover, his mates in the Eketahuna Club know exactly where he was on Wednesday, and it was far from Auckland.
But for celebrities of the male persuasion who happen to have 46 years on their clocks, life has been made uncomfortable by the suppression order and by the conjecture it inevitably triggered.
And you don’t have to be 46 to be caught up in the fuss.
One post on social media network Twitter reads: “46-year-old arrested. Simon Dallow or John Campbell? Who else is 46?”
Campbell’s TV3 colleague Mike McRoberts is furious, saying the speculation is damaging reputations.
“It’s terrible. It’s unfortunate this kind of thing happens because it does unfairly put people like John and Simon out there. I’m just thankful I’m not 46.”
McRoberts is 44, but the age bracket is no protection. The names of other 40-something celebrities being bandied about include former sports star Matthew Ridge, actor Shane Cortese and comedian Jeremy Corbett.
Alf is willing to accept the SST’s assurance that none of those people is the celebrity in question, who is on holiday and refuses to comment.
Obviously the bugger does not subscribe to the adage that any publicity is good publicity, unlike this Cortese bloke.
Alf – frankly – has never heard of Cortese, but is told he played a brothel owner, petty crook and reformed bad boy on Outrageous Fortune.
He obviously is seizing on the chance to have his name put back up in lights because he did not tell the SST to bugger off when they quizzed him about the case of the fellow who had his name suppressed. He said he was relaxed about the speculation.
“It doesn’t concern me whatsoever if my name is bandied around because I know it’s not me, and so do my family and my friends.
“It just doesn’t concern me in the least if my name is attached to something that I did not do.”
McRoberts is not so relaxed, saying that given the relatively minor nature of the charge, it would be better if the celebrity came forward.
“It’s the sort of thing that if it was you, you should really be coughing up to it,” he said.
In Alf’s experience names are often suppressed without good reason, except to demonstrate that there is one law for the rich and another for the rest, which – come to think of it – would be no bad thing if Alf happened to be one of the rich, but (alas) he isn’t.
Wealth and fame are not necessarily the same thing, of course, which explains why Alf is having second thoughts about supporting legislation that will exclude fame as grounds for secrecy.
Justice Minister Simon Power said when he introduced the Criminal Procedure Bill that the legislation would make it clear that a high profile was not a factor in name suppression.
“Whether or not someone believes they are well-known should not be grounds in itself for name suppression being granted,” Power said.
“Anyone who makes an application for suppression should be dealing with the same grounds, regardless of whether or not they think they are well-known or not to the public.”
Alf is confident he is among those the Minister had in mind, not because he is well known but because he thinks he is well known.
He is eager to criticise judges who suppress the names of all other people who are well known, essentially because he is eager to find out which well know people have been breaking the law or otherwise have made dicks of themselves.
He is not so eager to lend his support to a law which might be applied to his disadvantage on some future occasion.
As for the celebrity who now is on holiday somewhere, he did not enter a plea and was remanded on bail to reappear in March.
Alf is sure the fuss caused by his name suppression will ensure his case gets much greater coverage than it would otherwise have been given, whether or not he is named, simply because of the furore his anonymity is creating.