A dairy farmer who stopped WorkSafe checking his property has been told inspectors do not need to prove their authority to the nth degree.
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STUFF Daniel Sproull’s appeal in the High Court at Palmerston North against convictions for obstructing WorkSafe officers failed.

Daniel Reuel Sproull​ has been in a battle with WorkSafe since December 2018, when an inspector tried to check on one of his Manawatū farms.

That battle made it to the High Court, where Justice Cameron Mander​ declined Sproull’s appeal against convictions for obstructing WorkSafe inspectors.

He was convicted after a judge-alone trial – where he represented himself, asked no questions and called no evidence – in December.

He questioned the authority of WorkSafe inspectors when they tried to perform compliance checks, used his vehicle to block access to a building they wanted to check, and failed to tell inspectors why he was not present for pre-arranged inspections.

Judge Jonathan Krebs​ found the charges proved, fining Sproull $2000.

In his appeal, Sproull challenged the evidence finding the inspectors had legal authority to do their job.

He could only be found guilty if it was proven he failed to give all reasonable assistance to a legally appointed inspector.

While the judge-alone trial involved inspectors showing their identity cards and signed documents asserting their authority, Sproull appealed.

WorkSafe had stated the chief executive of WorkSafe had the authority to delegate, but during the appeal accepted that authority was a power delegated by the board of WorkSafe.

That information was available to be presented before or during the trial, but was not.

In his judgment, Justice Mander said not disclosing that information prior to the trial was not prejudicial to Sproull.

All the information did was further confirm the chief executive’s authority, which was what the evidence was at trial.

Sproull had appealed his fine, but abandoned that before the appeal was heard.

THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a “significant culture change” within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.

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