For those asking, yes, Todd Scott filed a Statement of Claim against me in the High Court today. He alleges that it was negligent for me to have sent NBR the column I did about Steven Joyce. Consequently, despite the column having been published in the NBR after being read and subedited by several NBR staff including editor Duncan Bridgeman, Todd says I should have to pay some or all NBR’s costs and any losses it suffers from Mr Joyce’s litigation. I understand these are now many tens of thousands of dollars.
This is a very novel legal move. If media owners are able to seek financial redress from reporters, journalists and other contributors for supplying material that might later be found to be capable of having a defamatory meaning, despite being subedited and published by the publication itself, it would have a chilling effect on journalism in New Zealand. No one in the NBR or any other newsroom would be safe from an angry owner who later came under legal and financial pressure.
Novel is one word for it. It certainly will make people think twice about writing for a publication if the publication then sues you for your writing.