Lawyer Sue Grey interviewed at the Wellington Family Freedom Picnic on 30th October 2021
29 October, 2021
A formal complaint against lawyer and anti-vaccine campaigner Sue Grey says she is using her status in the legal profession to further her “flawed, inaccurate and dangerous” claims about Covid-19.
FACT Aotearoa, a group formed to counter misinformation and conspiracy theories in New Zealand, lodged a formal complaint with the New Zealand Law Society against the Nelson-based lawyer on Monday.
They say Grey has breached the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008, which state “a lawyer must not engage in conduct that tends to bring the profession into disrepute”.
“Grey has utilised promotion of misinformation as a tool for the self-promotion of her firm and political party. This has overtaken her first duty to serve the integrity of the legal profession, clients and justice at large.”
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Grey, who is co-leader of the NZ Outdoors Party, has a large following on social media and regularly posts anti-vaccine content, including false claims of Covid-19 deaths and promotion of alternative and unproven treatments.
In September, she claimed an Auckland year 13 student who died from an unrelated cause was the first “teen death” from the Covid-19 vaccine in a social media post seen by Stuff and later removed by the platform.
In a statement the NZ Outdoors Party claimed deaths from the Covid-19 vaccine were “government mandated genocide”.
To date, only one death in New Zealand has been linked to the Pfizer Covid vaccination.
The woman in her 50s had other medical issues, and died from myocarditis, which is known to be a rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine, the Ministry of Health said.
In its complaint FACT Aotearoa said the claim “falls below the high ethical standard of the legal profession and brings the profession into disrepute”.
The New Zealand Law Society – Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa said it was prevented by law from disclosing receipt of complaints or making any comment about concerns raised.
“This is due to legal requirements placed on us by the Lawyers and Conveyancing Act 2006 which means that we would be breaking the law if we release information about specific complaints or concerns.”
This week Grey attended an anti-vaccine hīkoi at Waitangi and is representing four security workers in a case against the Government’s mandatory vaccine order.
The group said Grey’s activities breached another section of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008, that “lawyers must not engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive anyone on any aspect of the lawyer’s practice.”
Grey said she was aware of multiple complaints against her.
“I’m the co-leader of the NZ Freedom and Outdoors Party and any comments on my Facebook page are on my political page and not on my Sue Grey lawyer page.”
She defended her views about the Covid-19 vaccine “as a mother, as a scientist and as a political leader”, which she said were supported by scientists and doctors around the world.
FACT Aotearoa member and Middlemore Hospital infectious diseases’ physician Chris Hopkins said several people from the group had made complaints to the Law Society about Grey over the past year, but these had not been acted on.
Complaints received by the society are referred to an independent standards committee for investigation. Complaints deemed serious enough can be referred to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Tribunal can suspend a lawyer or strike them from the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors which would prevent them from practising law.
Hopkins said as a doctor on the front line of the Covid-19 epidemic he found the activities of Grey “gutting”.
“It’s disgusting to me and my colleagues to see that kind of misinformation, on so many levels.”
He said it was extremely frustrating to see misinformation by Grey holding back the best chance against the disease – vaccination – among a minority of people who took her seriously.
“We know we’ve got an extremely busy six months or so ahead of us, and we know that that will be substantially mitigated by rapidly vaccinating as many people as possible.
“So it is gutting knowing that our lives and our patients’ lives, more importantly, are going to be massively impacted.”
Hopkins said online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter had failed to counter the avalanche of misinformation shared by Grey and others.
While Grey’s post about the Auckland teenager’s death was removed, there were dozens of other similar posts that were not, Hopkins said.
“I think those platforms really need to up their game urgently and dramatically, and I think it’s despicable how little action they take.”