Erin Leigh wins

January 26th, 2011 at 8:38 am by David Farrar

The Court of Appeal has just released a decision, that may have political ramifications.

has had her case for defamation restored, after the High Court had struck it out. This does not mean she will eventually win, but it does mean there will be a trial, which could include evidence from Labour MPs and their former officials.

Leigh was a whistleblower who alleged wrog-doing over the appointment of asĀ  a comunications contractor to the Environment Ministry, on the recommendation of , the then Minister.

The Ministry provided a written and oral briefing on her to , who then said very uncomplimentary things about her in Parliament. She is not suing Mallard (as he is protected by parliamentary privilege) but is suing the Government for the contents of the briefings.

So the case will proceed to court, and it will be a very interesting case. I’ll let people know once a date is scheduled.

Hat Tip: Steven Price

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9 Responses to “Erin Leigh wins”

  1. mavxp (479 comments) says:

    More power to Erin.

    Our MPs and government officials must be held accountable and corruption exposed and properly investigated (which lets face it this is – even if it may be seen as simply stacking the deck in favour of your mates when it comes to getting cushy government jobbies).

    Her treatment by Mallard was appalling and cowardly, although as Labour’s attack dog, orders no doubt came from higher up the food chain in that ethical wasteland that is the Labour party.

    The sooner the Labour party are rejuvenated with new blood and people with principle the better. They will be government again one day… sad but true.

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  2. Murray (8,844 comments) says:

    Mallards habitual employment of parliamentary privilege to smear detractors of the labour government is a repugnant misuse of the privilege. Perhaps it application should be reviewed

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  3. Roflcopter (450 comments) says:

    Hopefully Curran gets dragged over the coals for this as well…

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  4. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    It’s good that Errin stands up to bully from Mallard & Co.

    DPF said…
    Clare Curran as a communication contractor.

    I thought that her qualification was gained in Anthropology (BA) as stated here (NZ Parliament website). I didn’t know that a qualification in digging up skulls in old caves can be useful in advising on government’s communications. No wonder that our politicians are out of touch with realities, since they employ Rasputin-type/psychic/palm-readers to advise them on important issues relating to running the country.

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  5. David Farrar (1,883 comments) says:

    To be fair to Clare, I’ve not seen any evidence she did anything wrong at all – she was commissioned to do a job, and did it.

    Any wrong-doing was on the fault of David Parker who basically told the Ministry to hire her.

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  6. Rex Widerstrom (5,349 comments) says:

    Murray suggests:

    Perhaps it application should be reviewed

    Privilege derives from the quaint tradition of the Monarch cutting the head off anyone who said something s/he didn’t like. I doubt the present Monarch, or her local representative, want to cut the head off anybody (with the possible exception of Paul Henry) so it’s well overdue for a review.

    I’d suggest making it a privilege (excuse the pun) rather than a right – establishing a review system, whereby someone smeared under privilege could seek a ruling as to whether its use was appropriate (i.e. in the public interest, not just to score points or allow the member to behave like a shit). If found to have abused the privilege of privilege, it’s protection is lifted and action can be taken.

    It’d be especially great if they made it retrospective (wouldn’t it, Ron Mark?)

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  7. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    “So the case will proceed to court, and it will be a very interesting case.”

    Well, possibly. But there is a problem for Ms Leigh – what damage did she suffer as a result of the (alleged) defamation? The real trashing of her reputation came when Mallard revealed the content of the briefing in Parliament. But the C. of A. decided that parliamentary privilege means that not only can’t he be sued directly for this, but that damages can’t be got for any harm caused by that exposure. Hence, the only damages she can get is for the effect that giving the briefing document to the Minister may have had on her – is that going to be enough money to justify a whole High Court trial?

    Further, she’ll only get damages if the officials in question can’t plead qualified privilege as a defence – that they took reasonable care in putting together the briefing document and that they had a genuine public interest in giving it to the Minister. Which, you’ll note, Steven Price thinks is a pretty good argument.

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  8. georgebolwing (769 comments) says:

    Rex:

    I think that parliamentary privilage, while open to abuse, is a cornerstone of our democracy and thus should remain in its current absolute form. I think we have enough protections in place for those who have abused the privilage to be held to account politically for what they have done.

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  9. Viking2 (11,368 comments) says:

    The abuse of privilege is the same as defamation and as such should actionable. Why should privilege be used to abuse others?

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