Lawyer acquitted of great costs loses bid to maintain title secret

Lawyer acquitted of serious charges loses bid to keep name secret

Napier attorney Philip Jensen


Napier attorney Philip Jensen

A lawyer can now be named who has been acquitted of having delivered methamphetamine and paid for sex with a 16-year-old.

Philip Jensen, 65, a veteran and well-known criminal lawyer in Hawke’s Bay, has lost an offer to keep his name suppressed.

Jensen successfully defended the charges of possessing and supplying methamphetamine and falsifying legal recourse in one trial and receiving sexual services from a person under the age of 18 in another.

The first offenses are said to have been committed between December 2013 and August 2015. The latter are said to have been committed in 2005 and 2006.


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He has been cleared of all alleged criminal offenses and has continued to practice as a lawyer since his indictment in May 2018.

Judge Peter Butler declined to grant permanent name suppression after the second trial earlier this year. Jensen argued that if he were identified it would cause extreme trouble for his 89-year-old mother. He asked for the name suppression to expire 14 days after his mother’s death.

Jensen appealed to the High Court. The appeal was heard by Judge Robert Dobson in early November.

Jensen’s attorney, Chris Tennet, presented an affidavit from a psychologist who said Jensen’s mother would “suffer unusually badly on learning of her son’s allegations and prosecutions” and if she were exposed to reactions and comments from other residents while resting at home.

Tennet also noted that Jensen was “vigorously” pursuing a cost decision because the prosecution measures against him were “maliciously and for the wrong reasons”.

Napier attorney Philip Jensen was concerned about the impact on his mother if he lost name suppression.


Napier attorney Philip Jensen was concerned about the impact on his mother if he lost name suppression.

If the cost request were successful, it would add weight to the case for permanent name suppression, Tennet said.

In a decision released on Friday, Justice Dobson said the argument could not affect the key question of whether Jensen’s appointment would cause extreme trouble.

He said Jensen could describe the circumstances of the prosecution and his acquittals to his mother, and it was fair to assume that friends of Jensen’s mothers would not treat them disadvantageously if they heard about it.

Tennet argued that because the case concerned a lawyer, it was “a primary target for malicious comments on social media, including irresponsibly misinterpreted references to what happened”.

Judge Dobson took note of Case X versus R, in which name suppression was granted because of fears that the accused could face extreme difficulties through life-threatening social media posts. He said there was no evidence that Jensen was being targeted on social media to cause extreme trouble.

The appeal was dismissed with instructions from the judge to lift the name suppression on Monday, December 14th, at 10 a.m.

That would give Jensen a chance to explain the circumstances to his mother before advertising was advertised.

Jensen didn’t want to comment when contacted by Stuff.


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