Collins taking defamation action against Mallard, Little and Radio NZ

March 29th, 2012 at 10:05 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

Minister is taking action against two labour MPs and a news organisation, her spokeswoman says.

I understand the MPs are and , and the media organisation is .

It will be fascinating if it proceeds, to see the proof Trevor and Andrew have to back up their assertions.

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34 Responses to “Collins taking defamation action against Mallard, Little and Radio NZ”

  1. trout (939 comments) says:

    Don’t mess with the ‘crusher’. It is time Radio NZ was called to account for their willingness to swallow without question the tripe that is being spouted by labour pollies and the CTU. Truth is not important if the content is anti government; that makes it news.

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  2. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    I’ve always liked Judith Collins’s “don’t stuff with me ” attitude.
    Reading some of the posts on Whaleoil about how Pullar has been hacking the ACC computer system , there is more water to go under the yet. Nick Smith’s “little” faux pas is going to look very insignificant in the saga soon.

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  3. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    They didn’t assert, they merely speculated. Par for the course though for a hypocritcal bully like Collins, with access to unlimited taxpayers money, to double down in faux-outrage.

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  4. merlinnz (53 comments) says:

    “Truth is not important if the content is anti government; that makes it news.”

    Funny they accuse them of pandering to the PM and other Govt Ministers in their interviews.

    The truth is an illusive little bugger when politicians work so hard to manipulate it.

    My concern is the privacy breach of the 6000 people and the leaking of emails. Everything else on all sides is political grandstanding about self interest (politically speaking) whether Mallard or Collins. It’s not about either of them and they need to grow up and serve the people.

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  5. campit (467 comments) says:

    RNZ will would say they were reporting what was said in the House, under Parliamentary privilege won’t they?

    [DPF: As I understand it this relates to comments made outside the House]

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  6. peterwn (3,277 comments) says:

    Judith has the Lange v Atkinson hurdle to overcome. This sets the hurdle quite higher than normal for defamation suits taken by politicians on the basis (among other things) they should be capable of rebutting defamatory statements against them. However Judith is not called ‘crusher’ for nothing. I suspect what Judith is after is a ‘retraction’ by the two under s25 of the Defamation Act:
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1992/0105/latest/DLM281239.html#DLM281239

    She has probably dragged the ‘media’ concerned into it as she would expect that ‘media’ to be the medium by which the retraction is published.

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  7. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    Hearing Mallard on RNZ this am I was suprised at what he said

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  8. wally (65 comments) says:

    Couldn’t happen to two nicer blokes!

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  9. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    The fact that the ACC case-worker has been tracked opening the leaked message so suspiciously will make life pretty tough for the defendants.

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  10. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    Mallard & Little, if they are sued, won’t have to provide any evidence to back up their allegations if they don”t want to. They can plead qualified privilege. Collins will have to prove ill will etc under s 19 of the Defamation Act.

    A defamation case like this will keep the story in the headlines for at least a year – probably more – and will involve Collins putting her credibility on the line in front of a jury. That’s an interesting choice for a Minister to make.

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  11. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Nick, how hard can it be to prove ill-will against Mallard? You’d have witnesses lining up down the street. Though he might plead insanity successfully.

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  12. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    fish_boy said

    They didn’t assert, they merely speculated. Par for the course though for a hypocritcal bully like Collins, with access to unlimited taxpayers money, to double down in faux-outrage.

    You obviously didn’t hear Angry Andrew Little’s speech in the General Debate yesterday fish_boy. He made clear and specific allegations that Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater had been leaked information on Ms Pullar by Collins. It most certainly was NOT speculation; it was a series of pointed and direct allegations. If he has repeated them outside the House he is a fool, but then again that is open to debate as well after his imtemperate outburst with Michael Laws last week.

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  13. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    @ Alan – not as easy as one might think. The problem is that the defendants – whoever they are – will be able to point to the public interest aspect of the case, and this will make any other motivation (such as a desire to embarrass the Govt, or the Minister personally) largely irrelevant. It will be very difficult for the Minister to argue that there is no public interest. Of course, early days yet and it may all come to nothing. But you could end up in a position where the Minister not only has to prove that she didn’t leak the email, but also that the defendants knew that but made the allegation anyway.

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  14. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    “the defendants .. will be able to point to the public interest aspect of the case” Hard to see why that reduces rather than increases the obligation to support accusations with evidence since it increases the likely harm done.

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  15. Colville (2,272 comments) says:

    Can anyone tell us what was said outside the House to irritate Crusher so?

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  16. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    @ Alan – the law at present is that the public interest in being able to speak frankly about our elected representatives is deemed to be more important than the MP’s reputation. That’s the effect of the Court of Appeal decision in Lange v Atkinson. But that protection is not absolute – that’s why it is called qualified privilege.

    So the public interest argument works in favour of the defendant in a case like this.

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  17. tvb (4,432 comments) says:

    Judith Collins does not mess around. I telf tp support the Minister. I am still puzzled why an email from Michelle Boag should be the cause of such grief for the Minister. I am annoyed Boag should be dropping Ministers in such a hole.

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  18. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Collins is the one taking, or planning to take, action. So it will be fascinating to see what her claims are and how she will proceed. However, she has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?p=505

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  19. JC (958 comments) says:

    A clue to Collins thinking might lie in the two bald facts she gave the media yesterday..

    1. The Privacy Commissioner was on the case.

    2. (Said with relish) that this might involve forensic examination of computers.

    Whilst the Opposition might be trying to prove all sorts of linkages with the Nats, Collins might be very interested in the linkages that involve Pullar and Boag with the Opposition/media.

    JC

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  20. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Nick, surely Collins can argue that Parliamentary privilege is more than adequate to cover that public interest factor in the case of the two MPs. Going outside the House to repeat false accusations was simply gratuitous on their part and does not deserve any special protection. Atkinson was not in the same position of privilege.

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  21. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    Nick R – I’ve heard Lange v Atkinson mentioned quite a bit, usually “you can say what you like because of Lange v Atkinson”.

    …the courts affirmed a new qualified privilege for the media to discuss politicians when expressing the criticisms as the “honest opinion” of the author.

    Atkinson wasn’t a politician. What difference would MP v MP make? The media can claim some degree of impartiality and no vested political interest that would be much harder for an opposing party MP to claim.

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  22. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    Ho hum – another inquiry, another law suit. All sounds verty expensive.

    Oh but I forgot – it’s public money so that doesn’t matter. Just sell a power station or close a small hospital to pay for it.

    Cant politicians grow thicker skins? If ya don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. This constant recourse to the legal system, motivated by ego and political points-scoring, is sickening. Whatever I might pay taxes for, this aint it!

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  23. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    @ Pete – The privilege is available to anyone (including journalists, MPs, or ordinary members of the public) who comments about an MP on a qualifying occasion. There is unlikely to be an argument about whether this is a qualifying occasion in this case.

    So MP vs MP makes no difference to the availability of the defence. And the vested interests argument is not clear cut. Arguably, it is the job of opposition MPs to do stuff like this. They would argue that is a public interest in and of itself.

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  24. Ender (105 comments) says:

    A quote from EDDIE’s article over at The Standard on Monday:

    “Collins has imitated her fellow ministers by leaking Pullar’s private details in revenge.”

    Heh heh I’d call that libelous

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  25. RJL (146 comments) says:

    So, is it entirely coincidental that Collins will now be able to claim she can’t answer questions about this due to ongoing legal proceedings?

    It will be interesting to see if she answers Oral Questions today.

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  26. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    This whole thing reeks of sleaze.

    We’re being asked to believe that the ACC details were leaked “by accident” to a person, who “just happens” to be a political insider and who “just happens” to be able to get the former president of the National Party to act as her support person, and it “just happens” that it all comes about after an alleged attempt to used the leaked materials as leverage in a dispute with the ACC.

    Whether or not Collins was the leaker of the Boag email (whoever leaked the other stuff), this does seem like an internal political power play from someone, and the compromising of the privacy of 6000 or so people means that that person’s head must roll. We can’t have that sort of behaviour here in New Zealand.

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  27. KH (695 comments) says:

    I keep waiting for Boag and Pullar to deny they leaked it. Haven’t heard that yet.
    Interesting that the media breathlessly continues to link Boag with the National Party. Possibly technically correct – but.
    A National Party person described Michelle’s demeanour at party conferences these day as ‘lonely’ No one much wants to talk to her.

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  28. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    “I keep waiting for Boag and Pullar to deny they leaked it. Haven’t heard that yet.”

    I have: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10794982

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  29. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    Tom Jackson, I think your suggestion that a politican leaked the data to Pullar is wrong, ACC have admitted it was sent to Pullar by an ACC staffer.

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  30. KH (695 comments) says:

    Allan @ 12.56.
    Thanks for that. – Well Michelle Boag denies leaking it. We will see. She also says she only sent it to the Minister. Which means she did not send it to Pullar. That’s frankly quite odd.

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  31. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    KH ??? I understood Boag was helping Pullar and presumed that was how she got it??? Are we talking about the same stuff?

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  32. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    It is good to see this sort of thing being dealt with via a defamation case. Think of some of the things said about various Labour party hacks during the Clark years that weren’t even denied…

    Hell Ian Wishart wrote all sorts of things about Dunedin and police dogs…. Cullen & Benson-Pope didn’t even say it wasn’t true !

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  33. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    So what happened ?? Fran Mold ( speaking for the Lab guys) was reported earlier as saying they had until 5.00pm to retract or papers would be filed against Mallard & Little. Can I assume there was no retraction ??

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  34. KH (695 comments) says:

    Allan @ 4.51
    We are talking of the email Boag wrote and sent to Collins. Which apparently outlined the situation.
    Anyway this email ended up in the media. Shock horror etc etc at release of Pullars name.
    Boag denies releasing it. And says it only went to Collins.
    But I think it unusual that Pullar would not have seen it.
    All I am saying it that is is perfectly possible that Pullar gave it to the media.
    She may have denied that. But I have not seen that denial.

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