Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:
The woman who accused Labour MP Trevor Mallard and a top public servant of destroying her reputation has won an appeal to the Supreme Court.
In 2007, whistleblower Erin Leigh accused Mallard, then Environment Minister, of defamation.
This was after she raised questions about political interference and alleged former minister David Parker pushed for Clare Curran to be appointed to a communications role with the Ministry.
All three Labour members involved are currently sitting Members of Parliament.
At the time Mallard was asked an oral question on the matter in Parliament and spoke negatively about Leigh.
He told the House she had “repeated competence issues” and said Curran had been appointed to “fix up the mess”.
The Ministry’s then Deputy Secretary Lindsay Gow had been appointed to provide Mallard with written and oral briefings before he answered the question.
Unable to sue Mallard, who was protected by parliamentary privilege, Leigh subsequently sued Gow for defamation.
Gow contended that his written and oral communications to the minister were also covered by absolute privilege and that the claims should therefore be struck out.
But the High Court, Court of Appeal, and now Supreme Court ruled that it was a matter of qualified, not absolute, privilege.
It will be very interesting if this now proceeds to a substantive hearing. Maybe Trevor, David and Clare will have to give evidence?Tags: defamation, erin leigh