Joyce wins large costs

Stuff reports:

Former National government minister Steven Joyce has been awarded costs of nearly $269,000, after winning a defamation case last year against NBR publisher Fourth Estate Holdings Ltd, and its owner Todd Scott.

High Court Justice Pheroze Jagose released his decision following a defamation trial centred on a column written by commentator Matthew Hooton, and tweets about it from Scott. Written in March 2018, the article was critical of Joyce’s time in government.

Hooton issued an apology as part of a legal settlement with Joyce. But NBR and Fourth Estate Holdings Ltd continued to defend against defamation claims from Joyce.

Joyce did not make a claim for damages, so none were awarded, but Justice Jagose has awarded Joyce costs against Fourth Estate and Scott.

This really was a monumental own goal.

All NBR and Todd Scott had to do was retract the column and apologise for it, as Hooton did. Their costs may have been a few thousand dollars at most.

But we had the bizarre spectacle of a publisher refusing to back down on a column that the column’s own author had apologised for. And the end result was they of course lost in court and have costs of over $250,000.

It would be a huge shame if this leads to the end of NBR, as it has been a valuable part of NZ media for many years.