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The case against defamation

By Steven | June 4, 2009

Nicky Hager explains how he thinks hardball Aussie political consultant Lynton Crosby (of Crosby Textor fame) used defamation laws try to bully him for criticisms he made during a radio interview. You’ll remember that Nicky’s book The Hollow Men contained some pretty ugly revelations about the advice Crosby Textor gave to the National Party at the last election. They didn’t sue him for that. But Crosby came after him for making similar comments on Radio NZ later on. I think this really should be worrying for anyone involved in covering politics, or other matters of national importance. (Disclosure: I act for Nicky).

Nicky describes his experiences at greater length here.

Topics: Defamation | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “The case against defamation”

  1. NZVince Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Nicky, join the club.
    I am the victim of the largest defamation award in New Zealand history ($920,000 + costs). For more than three years I was in Court almost every month. The plaintiffs’ lawyer said his client was “too busy” to move for trial for the first two years. This must be true because he changed his statement of claim four times – meaning I had to keep filing statements of defence, which were constantly challenged. My defence was finally struck out AFTER the Judge had ruled it held merit. Similar to your experience, the plaintiffs petitioned the Judge to accept their extremely narrow meanings for ordinary English words and – puff – my defence was thrown out.

    I was then debarred my right to even defend myself at trial (because I refused to pay the interlocutory application costs the plaintiff racked up ahead of the trial).

    Once I was prohibited from defending myself, my accuser could not wait to get to “trial” to “prove” his claim. But, wait. He had to “amend” his statement of claim yet again days before trial. The ‘trial’ became not about what I initially published but morphed into a Court analysis of our bitter 3 year battle. I was not even notified of the notably new claim.

    The Judge admitted that he didn’t even know what my defence was to the allegation which underpinned the interim injunction which was coming up to its four year anniversary. The truth of what I published 3 1/2 years earlier – and the incontrovertible evidence I provided to the Court in my accuser’s own hand a year into the legal melee – was lost along the way.

  2. Steven Says:
    June 6th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I should note that while I don’t doubt that Vince feels genuinely aggrieved at his treatment by the courts, and I have expressed some sympathy with some of his arguments, I have not checked all the facts contained in his post above, and do not endorse either his descriptions or his views. I have found that he is not the most balanced of commentators on his own case.

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