Whinge founder gives up suppression battle


The founder of the now-defunct Queenstown Whinge Facebook group and director of a rapidly-rising tech company’s finally abandoned a 15-month fight to keep his name suppressed.

Wulf Solter, 38, was sentenced to 12 months’ supervision in August 2017, for assaulting a former girlfriend that July.

The co-founder of Wherewolf had narrowly avoided being sent to prison in 2013, after being found guilty of injuring another girlfriend by throwing two shot glasses at her in Tardis bar.

Solter applied for name suppression over the 2017 assault, his lawyer Joseph Mooney arguing it would cause extreme hardship to Wherewolf.

The application was declined but Solter appealed to the High Court where it was also declined, and the Court of Appeal, before withdrawing the appeal in November 2018.

A police summary says the ex told officers his behaviour was, at times, “completely destructive”. During an argument, on July 5, he’d gone on a “rampage”, thrown some of her property outside and “started filming her crying”.

He’d pressed his finger against her mouth, pushing her head back against the wall. “This was hard enough that she couldn’t talk.”

He let her go after about 10 seconds but broke her cellphone moments afterwards. Solter then went to the police station to get advice, telling officers he was trying to make her be quiet and calm down. Solter later admitted assault and wilful damage. He shut down the popular Queens-town Whinge page around the time he was sentenced, telling horrible people being horrible to each other” and it lacked “positivity”.

The name suppression fight, which started in the district court at his sentencing, was advanced on the basis publication would cause “extreme hardship” to Wherewolf over an incident which was accepted to be at the lower end of the scale of such offending.

High Court Justice Gerald Nation, in his May decision, said: “Mr Solter’s business associate suggested that publication could seriously hinder the company in its attempts to develop its business in the United States [and] could discourage current local clients from continuing to do business with them.”

This could result in job losses and financial loss to shareholders, it was argued.

In refusing the suppression, Justice Nation wasn’t satisfied those consequences would actually occur.

He said Solter’s offending was “clearly conduct for which neither the company, nor other individuals working in the company, could be held responsible”.

Solter did not respond directly to a request for comment.

Wherewolf, through lawyer Liam Collins, highlighted Nation’s comments on the personal nature of his offending, and his credit to Solter for steps taken to tackle the underlying causes.

He’s attended 56 sessions with a psychologist.

Collins said the company was advised any further appeal would be unsuccessful.