The Nelson Mail report:
Nelson MP and Government minister Nick Smith faces trial later this year in a significant defamation case.
A six-week hearing in the High Court at Auckland is scheduled to start on June 8, but Dr Smith hopes it can be resolved out of court before then.
Timber preservatives producer Osmose New Zealand began legal action in December 2005 against timber preservation scientist Robin Wakeling and Dr Smith over statements they made in July 2005 about one of its timber treatments.
The company is seeking nearly $15 million in damages.
The legal costs to date alone has been massive for Nick, let alone what the trial will cost, and if Osmose are sucessful, any damages.
Dr Wakeling published an article critical of the Building Industry Authority (BIA), now the Department of Building and Housing, for approving the use of the treatment in timber framing of houses in 2004.
Dr Smith issued a press release later the same day critical of the then-Government and BIA, along with a copy of Dr Wakeling’s article. He was interviewed on the issue on radio and television.
Osmose’s statement of claim pleaded 11 causes of action. Five were directed at Dr Wakeling – two in defamation, two for injurious falsehood and one for breach of the Fair Trading Act.
The other six were against Dr Smith for defamation and injurious falsehood but did not include an alleged breach of the FTA.
Dr Smith said yesterday the legal action had become more complex with six other parties added to the action.
“That takes a little bit of the pressure off in that there are more people to fund the defence,” he said.
The legal costs of the various parties would be well over $500,000, he said.
Ouch.Tags: Nick Smith, Osmose