SST v Edwards

February 11th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

has been threatened with a defamation suit by lawyers acting for the Sunday Star-Times. I think the is over-reacting, especially as all Edwards has done is publish four sworn affadavits saying did not speak the words attributed to her by the Sunday Star-Times. Edwards has been careful to say he does not know who is correct, and has mainly been calling for the SST to rebut the affadavits.

The SST are refusing to, on the basis of a possible lawsuit by Hotchin.

I don’t know if the SST report of Mrs Hotchin’s words are correct or not. I will make the point that the reporter, Jonathan Marshall, is in the habit of recording his conversations as proof of what has been said to him. I do not know whether or not he recorded this particular exchange.

Mrs Hotchin has said it is too expensive to sue, and has instead effectively fought her side of the story on Dr Edwards’s blog. And I have certainly found it interesting to hear her side. However at the end of the day Brian Edwards can’t adjudicate on the veracity of the report, as he can’t compel a response from the SST.

Mrs Hotchin should file a formal complaint with the Sunday Star-Times, and if not satisified with their response, then complain to the . That would allow her affadavits to be tested against any evidence from the Sunday Star-Times. I am suspicious that she refuses to take this step – it does not need lawyers and costs basically nothing – it is her best chance of clearing her name.

But while Mrs Hotchin is not helping her own case by refusing to go down the route of the Press Council, I don’t think it is a good look for a newspaper to use nastygram legal letters to try and shut up a blogger – these are the tactics normally used by the subjects of newspaper investigations – not newspapers themselves.

The SST could simply have responded to the affadavits with an invitation for Mrs Hotchin to complain to the Press Council, and stating they are confident in their version of events.

Threatening Dr Edwards with is also very stupid. It guarantees more and more people will know about the issue, and gets the story into the mainstream media.

Hopefully common sense will preval and Mrs Hotchin will go down the press council avenue for adjudication, and the Sunday Star-Times will keep its specialist defamation lawyers on a leash.

UPDATE: A reader has pointed out to me that the Hotchins themselves have been pretty quick to use lawyers also to threaten defamation. An (offline) HoS story reported in May 2010:

As with Amanda, few who know Mark are willing to talk on the record. Robert Alloway, managing director of Allied Farmers, the firm that absorbed Hanover assets in controversial deal at the end of last year, says the men behind Hanover have a reputation for sending out letters from law firm Chapman Tripp.

“They have deep pockets and aren’t afraid to reach into them. Whether it’s Bruce Sheppard, or me, or anyone saying anything you’d call an opinion, you’d get a letter. Typically I can set my watch by it. If it’s in a Saturday paper, I’ll get a letter on the Tuesday,” he says.

I also understand the Hotchins had their own law firm send lawyers letters to other media, threatening them if they repeated the SST story.

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26 Responses to “SST v Edwards”

  1. Viking2 (10,734 comments) says:

    Mrs Hochy must have been taken advice from a well known lawyer who is trying to shore up his empire and discredit others. All too convienient, especially after her crocodile tears this morning about how she cares for their investors who lost their money.
    Hollywood next stop.

    She adds: “The point is I do care what people say. The constant media and public comment about my husband, Hanover and myself has become a hate campaign. Over the last year I have learned to my cost that not everything you read, hear or see in the media is true.

    “I am not, as you suggest in that blog, absolutely selfish, lacking in conscience and indifferent to the welfare of others. I care very much about what has happened, I do care that investors have lost money, I am concerned for their welfare.”

    decide for yourself but boo hooo and your nose is growing!

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  2. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    Going to the Press Council precludes the option of then going to court, though. And in any case, the PC is a toothless old moggy and less frightening than a slap on the wrist with a wet lettuce leaf.

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  3. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    I used to have the Edwards blog as a favourite site on my browser but he tightly edits messages and removes posts that are contrary to his ideas – so I deleted it from my bookmark list and havent looked at it for a long time.

    Id almost gaurantee that he has not allowed all the messages to his blog and this (or any other subject for that matter) subject and that just might be his problem – which is why the SST is after him- he would have blocked one or some of their messages.

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  4. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Perhaps Mrs Hotchin should ask her husband to return to NZ and front-up to his investors and answered their questions, rather than hiding behind his wife in Hawaii.

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  5. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Legalistic bullying is not a substitue for good journalism.

    The New Zealand media in general should give that some thought. Siccing lawyers onto people who dissagree with you in public is the mark of a ploitician, not the suposed bastians of free speech.

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  6. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see the Streisand Effect in operation here.

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  7. reid (15,593 comments) says:

    I care very much about what has happened, I do care that investors have lost money, I am concerned for their welfare.

    Pssst, Amanda. Most people usually make that point by actions as well as words.

    It’s good to see Edwards standing up for what his political soulmates would probably call an extremely rich “prick.” I’ve wondered how the Edwards of the Fair Go days could have been so Nelsonian as he has proven to have been, over the apparent merits or otherwise of his beloved Hulun. It’s good to see he hasn’t totally lost what he used to have in spades.

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  8. AG (1,727 comments) says:

    bearhunter: “Going to the Press Council precludes the option of then going to court, though.”

    Ummm … how?

    Murray: “Siccing lawyers onto people who dissagree with you in public is the mark of a ploitician, not the suposed bastians of free speech.”

    It’s a little more than a “dissagreement”. Ms Hotchin is alleging that the journalist manufactured a quote and that the SST ran a completely false news story. That’s about as serious an accusation as you can make against a newspaper (which the SST still is, sort of). It goes right to the heart of their credibility and their business (which is what newspapers are, after all). And Brian Edwards may have been “careful to say he does not know who is correct, and has mainly been calling for the SST to rebut the affadavits”, but that is irrelevant from a defamation point of view. If you publish the (allegedly) defamatory claim, then you are responsible for it.

    Put it this way – if the SST printed a story claiming that Curia manufactures poll results, complete with alleged anonymous quotes supporting the claim, would you be bagging DPF for hiring a lawyer to demand that they retract it and apologise? Or should he be limited to simply saying “I deny everything” … thereby causing every enemy he has to point out “if it really wasn’t true, he’d sue!”

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  9. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    AG: Complainants to the PC have to waive the right to subsequent legal action on the subject matter of the complaint. From the PC’s own website:
    “In those cases where the circumstances suggest that the complainant may have a legally actionable issue, the complainant will be required to provide a written undertaking that s/he will not take or continue proceedings against the publication or journalist concerned.”

    It’s debatable whether this could be enforced, but it usually gives prospective complainants pause for thought before proceeding. Also the PC’s record on upholding complaints (maybe one in four, I think?) doesn’t bode well for that avenue of complaint.

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  10. Alfred (52 comments) says:

    Gee, how frightening is the Press Council to the Sunday Star Times….

    At the end of the day the Sunday Star Times and its reporter Jonathan Marshall could end all this debate by publishing a transcript of the conversation. If they did that then they’re fine.

    However, because they haven’t published it (and they had a chance when they chose to publish the article) then it suggests that there is no tape and he made the whole thing up.

    If this is the case then no wonder they are hiding behind lawyers and making threats. Their reputation is on the line, as is that of its editor and reporter Jonathan Marshall. This is not tidy for them at all now.

    What a complete mess they have got themselves in.

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  11. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see the Streisand Effect in operation here.

    Ironically it seems that Barbra Streisand was trying block images of her lovely seaside mansion. Unlike the Hotchin’s Hawaii Hideout, there appears to be no doubt that Barbra paid for hers with her own money.

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  12. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Poor little Amanda All that lovely money and no idea where it was all coming from. Oh Dear. And now spurned by the other rich and famous who always turn on their kind at the wiff of scandal or trouble.

    And Mark Soon to face hos accussers long with his legal and finanical advisers who are s….. bricks since Adam and the SFO interviewed them and seized the computer hard drives that they arent able to claim privildege over as thye usually do to protect themselves from admitting to be the crooks and cons that they are.

    Only question. Will the Courtsbe willing and able to bust the Trusts and get back the tens of millions siphoned off to pay for little Amandas life style

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  13. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    Can someone here knowledgeable about the Hotchins tell me exactly, what crimes have they committed?

    May I also suggest that Phil Ure book a hotel room with Jonathan Marshall, because they’re compatible with each other in their hatred of the rich.

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  14. nasska (9,549 comments) says:

    If (& only if) the SST story was a little light on substantival fact then the approach from the lawyers makes sense. If BE had removed the disputed material from the blog the whole story would have died. Instead of rushing off to his own legal advisers, who would have urged him to comply, BE has done the unexpected & has now upped the ante by publishing the legal threat.

    What started as a bluff has backfired. I’m not qualified to comment on the legal niceties but since at present time the best the SST can achieve by suing is reducing an old man to penury while destroying their readership base it wouldn’t be a bad time for them to change law firms & write the experience off to a lesson in Public Relations.

    It is true that public opinion is no substitute for a law court but in the cold hard business world the SST inhabits one would think that first consideration should be given to whatever sells newspapers & the attendant advertising.

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  15. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    The Hotchins have always been very good at attacking the press. Journalists had tried to publish information about the inevitable crash of Hanover and his large payments to himself as the company was on its last legs, but Hotchin would threaten viciously with lawsuits. Deceived investors kept putting money in because they were stupid enough to believe a TV celebrity, but also because the terrible state of the finance company was kept hidden.

    He’s a real sociopathic son-of-a-bitch – I doubt the wife’s much better. She’s just like a Mongrel-mob wife benefiting from her partner’s crimes – the only difference is her dye-job is better and the dollar amounts are a few orders of magnitude larger.

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  16. AG (1,727 comments) says:

    bearhunter – Thanks! I didn’t know such a demand was made … all a bit suspect, if you ask me.

    tristanb: “He’s a real sociopathic son-of-a-bitch – I doubt the wife’s much better. She’s just like a Mongrel-mob wife benefiting from her partner’s crimes – the only difference is her dye-job is better and the dollar amounts are a few orders of magnitude larger.”

    You do realise it is DPF who will be in the shit if Hotchin’s lawyers were to read this? Just sayin’ …

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  17. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    tristanb said…
    Deceived investors kept putting money in because they were stupid enough to believe a TV celebrity…

    That’s a contradictory statement. Investors were being deceived, but at the same time they were stupid? What logic is this? If investors were being deceived, then perhaps some lawyers here can elaborate on that point further whether there is truth to it or not. If it was true that they were being deceived, then that’s a crime, so the arm of the law should step in (the primary & proper role of a government). However if there were no crimes being committed at all, but simply because investors were too stupid, then why the business-owner (Hotchin) is being condemned? You cannot make laws to protect people from stupidity.

    Again, can some here tell me if the Hotchins committed any crimes ? Its a very simple question really, since I can see those so called right-wingers on this thread already jumping in to condemn the Hotchins.

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  18. nasska (9,549 comments) says:

    Falafulu Fisi @ 1.08pm

    “You cannot make laws to protect people from stupidity.” How true. The issue probably has less to do with legality than morality. Since the powers that be have seized the Hotchins’ assets the man on the street is likely to suspect that not all is well. The geriatric halfwits who wanted to believe in their nice TV announcer are on a par with victims of Nigerian scammers for gullibility but if their money was accepted when the directors of the company knew it was about to tank all may not be above board & honest.

    Since the investments Mr Hotchins’ company attracted headed down the shitter it is not unreasonable that he should bear the brunt of public sentiment until such time that his blamelessness or guilt can be proven.

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  19. Chris2 (706 comments) says:

    I find it curious that Mrs Hotchin has collected four affidavits (from people apparently working for her and her husband) BUT, where is HER affidavit?

    Why is their no affidavit from HER?

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  20. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    Investors were being deceived, but at the same time they were stupid?

    Yes. They’ve never been mutually exclusive things. Look at the idiots who give their money to “Nigerian royalty” – it requires both deception and stupidity (and greed). It doesn’t mean the Nigerian guys are innocent.

    You do realise it is DPF who will be in the shit if Hotchin’s lawyers were to read this? Just sayin’ …

    Oops, it’s a bit late to edit it. Am happy for it the nasty parts to be deleted and accept the defamation demerits if appropriate. I will try to avoid writing things unless I can justify myself. Regarding the SST suit, I’m sure Amanda H. regrets allegedly saying what she allegedly said, but she can’t take [what she allegedly said] back, regardless of how much cash she allegedly has.

    I’m not too worried about the Hotchin thing – it’s not like I had any money in Hanover – so it’s not my fight. But I can see why many people hate him and why he is vilified so intensely.

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  21. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    Falafulu Fisi

    Let me explain

    I am the shareholder director and manager of finance company A . I advertise for deposits. I issue a prospectus setting out what I plan to do with the deposits the interest I will pay the risks I will take on who I will lend to and other stuff.

    You deposit $500K in my company.

    The company lends the money to another company B that I am the shareholder director manager etc etc ( But the prospectus didnt tell you this)

    Company B then lends on to another one of my companies C that invests in very high risk business say property development. the prospectus didnt tell you this.

    In addtition to bank loans mezzanine loans company C shows the money from Company B as equity not loans so the bank thinks the owners Me have more skin in the game than I have.

    Now the Secruities law has rules darn it to try and ensure I cant and dont pull the wool over the eyes of the people I deal with.

    Some of us call this Good Governance something that NZ business struggles with frankly. They want the good governnace rules to apply to others but hell not to them

    And that my friend is a very short potted outline. I could write several hundred pages of details. Suffice in the example above I am not only a crook I have no ethics no morals and I will steal the knickers off my old granny if it turns me a profit.

    No doubt you like dealing with people like my example.

    I dont they are pond life

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  22. Alfred (52 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, back to the story at hand. The Sunday Star Times has potentially allowed a story by Jonathan Marshall to be published that is not backed up by the facts. So, Brian Edwards starts blogging about this and wo-be-tide the Sunday Star Times issues legal threats against poor old Brian (who Jonathan Marshall believed was dead – nice work JM).

    I’m with Amanda on this one. Bring back the 2006 yellow dress!

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  23. nasska (9,549 comments) says:

    lastmanstanding @ 3.11pm

    Thanks for that explanation. You have the gift of brevity. Most people could not resist giving the thousand page version which would tax the understanding of a forensic accountant.

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  24. Todd (111 comments) says:

    Last man standing, can I eat your brain?

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  25. Kent Parker (449 comments) says:

    Brian Edwards took Mrs Hotchin’s testimony and the affidavits at face value and accepted them as credible. He published the contents of the letter from the SST lawyers despite a request not to do so yet he didn’t publish the contents of the affidavits supplied by Mrs Hotchin.

    Many investors took the financial advice of Mark Hotchin at face value and look what happened to them. Hmm I wonder what the consequences for Brian Edwards might be for taking Mrs Hotchin’s testimony at face value? Is Edwards missing a heavy dose of foresight?

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  26. Brian Edwards (2 comments) says:

    Barry (557) writes:

    “I used to have the Edwards blog as a favourite site on my browser but he tightly edits messages and removes posts that are contrary to his ideas – so I deleted it from my bookmark list and haven’t looked at it for a long time.

    “Id almost guarantee that he has not allowed all the messages to his blog and this (or any other subject for that matter) subject and that just might be his problem – which is why the SST is after him- he would have blocked one or some of their messages.”

    Almost every word of this comment is bullshit. I occasionally edit comments for reasons of unacceptable language or potential defamation. Debate and disagreement are the lifeblood of brianedwardsmedia. Check out any of the recent posts. I almost never trash comments. I have never received messages from the SST. Barry, you are a liar and a fool. Despite this, I’ve fixed your spelling.

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