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.
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.