Peters vs the media

Tim Murphy wrote:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has told the High Court he wants to be paid monetary damages by two journalists who reported his seven-year overpayment of national superannuation.

That is outrageous. Considering Metiria Turei lost her job as an MP over her revelations that she was overpaid a benefit (due to false declarations) it is clearly a matter of public interest if another MP was in a similar situation. And we still don’t know how the overpayment occurred as Peters refuses to allow MSD to reveal details. We only have his version of events and MSD is gagged.

Peters, aged 72, is also alleging in an unorthodox draft Statement of Claim filed with the High Court at Auckland that prominent Newshub political reporter Lloyd Burr is a “National Party political activist”.

This is almost demented. Many National MPs think Burr is a hybrid cross of a jackal and a hyena (I’m sure they mean it as a compliment Lloyd!) so to file a court document saying he is a political activist for National is bonkers.

Peters not only wants the court to require Burr and myself to hand over phone records, notes and documents relating to his superannuation windfall story but to pay him “general damages” as compensation for allegedly breaching his privacy. 

So because they helped expose that Peters had been claiming too much money, he wants them to pay damages to Peters. This is really outrageous.

He also wants money from one of the country’s top civil servants, the head of the Ministry of Social Development, Brendan Boyle.

Having the Deputy PM sue a Government Chief Executive is a very bad look. How can the Chief Executive defend himself fully when doing so could cause political instability to the Government?

If Peters wasn’t Deputy PM, then Boyle could respond to the lawsuit with details of whether MSD thought the overpayments were accidental or not. But if MSD’s conclusion was that they were not accidental (and we don’t know as Winston won’t allow the documents to be released) then that would be lethal to Peters. So MSD may just need to pay money to Peters rather than defend themselves.

If Ardern wasn’t dependent on Peters, she should tell him that he can’t remain Deputy PM and sue a Government Chief Executive.

Peters calls the group of National ministers and staffers, which also included Steven Joyce, English’s chief of staff Wayne Eagleson and party communications officer Clark Hennessy, by a made-up title, the National Party Re-election Committee and gives it the acronym NPRC throughout his document.

I thought legal papers needed to have a basis in fact, not just be a hysterical conspiracy theory. He invents a committee!

On the ’s reporting of the story, Peters alleges the “NPRC” arranged to leak the fact of his overpayment “to the media by use of journalists who were part-of and/or sympathetic to the National Party campaign to be re-elected

That would not be Llloyd Burr!

If any National staffer or MP did leak the material, then I’m all for them facing the consequences for doing so. But an imaginary conspiracy theory is not a good basis for a lawsuit.

I have no idea who did leak the material but it is just as plausible that a left leaning MSD staffer who knew of the Peters situation thought it was hypocritical that Turei was being pilloried for her welfare over-payments and that Peters situation was similar to Turei’s and hence they leaked it.

Now I’m guessing also, but I’m not suing people on the basis of guesswork.

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