Defamation trial, Hagamans v Little – $2m

The defamation trial that Earl and Lani Hagaman have taken against Andrew Little begins today in the Wellington High Court.

NZH: Defamation trial against Labour leader Andrew Little to begin

Earl and Lani Hagaman have sued Little for defamation and Lani Hagaman will begin her evidence today.

The jury trial is set down until Friday and witnesses include Hagaman’s wife Lani, daughter Toya and National Party President Peter Goodfellow.

Others include Scenic Hotel managing director Brendan Taylor and Terry Ngan, who was at hotel consultancy firm Horwarth which managed the contract tender at the time will also give evidence.

Last week, Little did offer a full apology but Lani Hagaman said it was too late and the court action would proceed.

It was actually on the Friday of the week before last week that Little went public with his attempt at an apology.

UPDATE:  Lani Hagaman gives evidence at defamation trial against Labour leader Andrew Little

Hoteliers Earl and Lani Hagaman are seeking up to $2 million in damages from Labour leader Andrew Little in a defamation suit against him.

Whew!

The Hagamans’ lawyer Richard Fowler said Earl and Lani Hagaman claimed Little had repeatedly defamed them in a press release and six media interviews he did last year about a $100,000 donation from the Hagamans to the National Party in 2014 and a contract awarded to their hotel chain, Scenic Hotel, to manage the Matavai resort in Niue.

The Hagamans were seeking an optimum award of $500,000 each for comments made in a press release by Little soon after a RNZ news story reported on the timing of the donation and the awarding of the Matavai contract.

The couple is also seeking $100,000 each for separate comments made in each of five interviews broadcast after that, a total of $2 million, with a further lower amount of exemplary damages.

Eye watering.

Lani Hagaman began her evidence today, saying Earl Hagaman was not at court because he was critically ill and doctors believed he only had weeks to live.

Lani Hagaman now had power of attorney along with the family’s lawyer.

She had decided to continue to pursue the defamation suit to clear his name.

“We reached the decision Earl’s name needs to be totally cleared from any [claim] of corruption and Earl needs to be able to die with dignity.”

That puts an added complexion to the case.

Fowler said the Hagamans had rejected a last-minute offer of $100,000 in costs and an apology from Little because it was “too little, too late” and by then the costs were far in excess of what Little was offering.

More details of the proceedings at the Herald link.

I’ll add to this post if there are more reports on the trial today.

Leave a comment

30 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  3rd April 2017

    Cool. Yet another gripping court soap opera.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  3rd April 2017

    Got to court really fast for a defamation case. ..must be. .election. ..year
    .

    Reply
    • The timing depends on the parties to the defamation action. The Courts are independent of politics.

      Jordan Williams filed against Colin Craig 14 August 2015. That went to court on 5 September 2016,a similar time frame.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd April 2017

        It is actually likely to be an interesting case. My recollection is that Little strongly implied impropriety on the part of the government rather than the Hagamans.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  3rd April 2017

          I believe he said something along the lines that the Hagaman donation to National and it’s timing to the contract being awarded “stunk to high heaven” implying they had bribed the Government.

          It was a very serious and completely unfounded accusation.

          Reply
      • Blazer

         /  3rd April 2017

        Williams and Hagerman. ..both national supporters. ..no surprise.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  3rd April 2017

          You can’t seriously think that there is any connection, no intelligent person could.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  3rd April 2017

            I suppose no intelligent person would think National game the O.I.A or that the Police fudge statistics…either?

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  3rd April 2017

              National game the OIA ?

              Translation into sense, please.

              The Police fudge statistics-any evidence would be appreciated.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd April 2017

              @KC…well documented,can’t be bothered finding it for someone who wouldn’t accept…the reality,regardless.

  3. Nelly Smickers

     /  3rd April 2017

    Wayne remembered this post from *The Standard* last year…..not so much for the all the BS that was being spouted there…..but the *link* it contained in Para 9: *just plain folks* ….

    https://thestandard.org.nz/dodgy-niue-deal-back-in-the-headlines-2/

    We’d HATE people to think we’re nosey…but it’s an *absolutely cracking* read ❗ XD

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd April 2017

      Stinks imo too.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  3rd April 2017

        The little I read seemed cracked rather than cracking.I couldn’t be bothered reading the whole thing, I have better things to do with my time,

        It’s written by someone with an obvious bias. Do they really think that giving the National Party a donation of $100,000 would pay such dividends ? Why are other donors not being given such out of proportion rewards ? How to make sure that you get the contract (or whatever it is)-give the ruling party a donation that’s a tiny fraction of that.

        Where were the MPs from other parties while this was going on ?

        How stupid do these people think other people are ?

        Reply
    • Kevin

       /  4th April 2017

      “I’m pretty sure this vexatious lawsuit will be laughed out of court. ”

      Oh dear.

      Reply
  4. I’ve added a Herald update to the post, which includes:

    Hoteliers Earl and Lani Hagaman are seeking up to $2 million in damages from Labour leader Andrew Little in a defamation suit against him.

    Lani Hagaman began her evidence today, saying Earl Hagaman was not at court because he was critically ill and doctors believed he only had weeks to live.

    She had decided to continue to pursue the defamation suit to clear his name.

    Reply
    • And paragraph 2 of the quote gives a reason for delaying an apology I suppose – wait it out and hope a grieving widow won’t follow through with the case…. Valid strategy but if that was the strategy its now gone all Pete Tong

      Reply
  5. Bill Brown

     /  3rd April 2017

    This is an early election year gift. So if Earl wins (at this point looks likely) where will Andy find the $2m? He’s hardly cashed up! Will Labour pay ? If so that’s leaving Little (pun) for the election coffers ……… time might be against Andy for silly comments- just my thoughts

    Reply
    • There’s no guarantee that’s how much will be awarded, if anything at all. But Little’s attempted apology so late in the process may not work well for him.

      Reply
      • High Flying Duck

         /  3rd April 2017

        Especially given the fact it was a weak as dishwater apology and read more like an attempt at deflection rather than showing any sincere remorse.

        Reply
        • Bill Brown

           /  3rd April 2017

          Yes it was a rather arrogant response from a man who struggles with credibility in the first place.

          Reply
  6. Reply
  7. Brown

     /  4th April 2017

    A mate who is far left (Christianity crosses such divides) thinks Little was sending a signal in delaying an apology – effectively taking the moral high ground. That may be well and good but when the government’s top legal person says there was nothing wrong in the hotel tender process Little is sort of in contempt of court in not withdrawing at that point. Smart people know a lost cause when they see it but Little seems incapable of rational thought and may think in ideological terms (lefty union style) about everything. Being a PM in a democracy requires pragmatism and Little seems to have little.

    I hope the Hagamans clean this stupid, thoughtless embarrassment up.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  4th April 2017

      Certainly Biblically appropriate to get stuck in to anyone bearing false witness, or slandering as per Vitty 16:16.

      Reply
  8. Ray

     /  4th April 2017

    And it sends a terrible message if Little really was just hoping that Mr Hagaman would drop dead.
    Why else wouldn’t he apologise and withdraw when the Investigation came out, crazy really.

    Reply
  9. Corky

     /  4th April 2017

    News Flash: Calling all lefties.

    Labour to start a Barbie Army to help Andy out.

    Please make sure your barbie is in working order. When have 2.5 million sausages to fry.

    Reply
  10. If you have publicised that you have made a political party donation and then tender for a job that is the responsibility of the political party, it is logical that you make absolutely sure that the tender rules are adhered to the letter. This is how successful businessmen win and others lose.

    Reply
  11. Avan N. Cooverji

     /  5th April 2017

    Mr. Andrew Little should not have made such comments which he now regrets. It would be really Christian and forgiving on Mr. and Mrs. Hagaman’s part if they could graciously accept Mr. Andrew Little’s apology and recover whatever it has actually cost them in the litigation but otherwise forgive him. Mr. Little has apologised twice, if they wish they could ask him to apologise in a manner and with wordings that will be to their liking, but we will think all the more and better of them if they can show magnamity towards Mr. Little and God will bless them for it because we all make mistakes and all of us also need forgiveness from God so many times . If God can forgive, we can also try to do so. Feel very sad for everyone involved , especailly for Mr. Little for whom this is a great blow and huge monetory burden and also a great lesson of not to cast asperations on anyone and also for Mr. Hagaman who is sick and suffering. Somehow Rudyard Kipling’s poem ” IF” comes to mind.
    May God give peace to all.

    Reply

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