The resignation of Internet Society (ISOCNZ) chairman Peter Dengate Thrush is being called for following the claim that he was responsible for initiating legal action against society member Alan Brown.
The claim was made in court by Patrick O'Brien, the former head of Domainz and the plaintiff in a defamation suit brought against Brown. Domainz is the ISOCNZ-owned company that manages the .nz domain space.
Dengate Thrush denies O'Brien's claim, which was made during the defamation hearing in Palmerston North on May 3, in response to a question by Brown.
The issue is causing a storm of exchanges among society members, unhappy at the decision for Domainz to fund O'Brien's suit. Society member John Russell, who attempted to call a special general meeting on April 3 to discuss the issue, is now calling for Dengate Thrush's head.
Russell wants Dengate Thrush to confirm whether or not the suit was his idea in the first place.
“Would you care to respond to the statements made under oath by [O’Brien] that it was you personally (and he did identify you by name) that wished to initiate this lawsuit against Alan Brown?" says Russell.
He thinks Dengate Thrush's resignation is justified by the fact that he commented on the case in the media after the hearing.
“[G]iven the fact that you felt it was also appropriate to comment to the media on the case as an impartial observer, when you had been named in court that very day as the prime mover of the lawsuit, should you not resign at once?” he says.
Dengate Thrush, who became chairman of the society the day of the alleged defamation, agrees with an email posting from the society secretary, Frank March, who was also present at the meetings in question.
"I was present at a meeting on 23 December 1999 when it was (to my knowledge) first discussed. No decision was taken at that time; what was decided was to seek advice from other parties." Dengate Thrush has added the rejoinder, "Now, can we get on?
Russell’s call for an SGM was declined by the society for not having enough support. However, a second SGM is going ahead, on Friday, to discuss issues surrounding the case.