Little “accepted…there was no impropriety”?

In Court yesterday in the defamation case taken against him by Earl and Lani Andrew Little said:

“…once the Auditor-General did her inquiry, I accepted her conclusion there was no impropriety and I was happy to give them a public apology”.

However he didn’t attempt a public apology until two weeks ago, and Lani Hagaman has said in courth that the first she knew about it was being asked for a response to it by journalists.

And I don’t recall Little saying that he “accepted her conclusion there was no impropriety”.

Back in September when the report was released from Stuff: AG clears contract at centre of political donations row

The Auditor General has found there was nothing unusual about the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the operator of a Niue tourism resort at the centre of a political row over a six figure donation to National.

Auditor General Lyn Provost said from the available information her office had found there was a standard procurement process with reasoned and documented analysis for the selection of Scenic Hotel Group to operate the resort, and for the subsequent investment of New Zealand international development assistance funds in expanding the resort.

The contract was referred to Provost by Labour leader Andrew Little after he questioned the company’s links to National.

Little is now being sued for defamation by the Hagaman’s after refusing to apologise and retract a statement that the deal “stunk to high heaven”.

Little said in a statement the limits to Provost’s mandate meant she was unable to address the key issues he had raised.

“I have a duty as Leader of the Opposition to raise questions in the public interest and respond to media stories on the use of public funds.

“Taking the issue to the Auditor-General was the right thing to do.”

He would not comment further as the matter was before the courts.

That seems to be at odds with what he said in court yesterday.

RNZ reports on yesterday in court: Andrew Little defends efforts to settle defamation case

Mr Little told the court he accepted the Hagamans were entitled to an apology, and letters were exchanged between his lawyers and the Hagamans about that.

“As I’ve said, once the Auditor-General did her inquiry, I accepted her conclusion there was no impropriety and I was happy to give them a public apology.

“The frustration was trying to get form of apology that would be acceptable [to the Hagamans].”

Mr Little said he was sorry for any hurt he had caused the Hagamans, and apologised to Lani Hagaman in person in court today.

“I apologise for the words … causing you hurt and I stand by the efforts I’ve made to resolve this matter,” he said.

He still seems to be struggling with how to do an appropriate apology.

The Hagamans’ lawyer, Richard Fowler QC, questioned him closely about his claim that the couple appeared not to want to reach a resolution.

Mr Little conceded there had been an offer, but his letter in reply said while he would make an apology he did not agree to pay the costs sought or damages.

He said he thought the proposal from the Hagamans was just an opening gambit and he expected further negotiations, but the amount they claimed kept rising.

“They said $100,000, then $215,000. I thought the legal costs were excessive.”

“It included $17,000 to a PR firm, which I understood is not recoverable in court … and I wouldn’t meet that cost.”

A sensible opening gambit could have been a comprehensive apology?

Mr Fowler asked Mr Little whether it would not have been wise to check details before ruining someone’s reputation, but Mr Little disputed that.

“Given the track record of the government I thought what I was doing was right and proper.”

But instead Little is still trying to defend making accusations against the Government (part of his defence is qualified privilege, doing his job as Leader of the Opposition) and by association against the Hagamans and their company.

The case continues today. It seems to be progressing quite quickly with the cross-examination of Little starting yesterday. It has been set down for five days and so far looks likely to fit in that time frame.

 

21 Comments

  1. Bill Brown

     /  April 6, 2017

    Good on the Hagamans for taking him to task I say – what’s the guy going to do now? He’s out of credibility so reply on his lack of ability!

  2. Blazer

     /  April 6, 2017

    Hagamans are being bloody minded,life’s too ..short.

    • Conspiratoor

       /  April 6, 2017

      Like a cat playing with a mouse. I’m almost feeling sorry for him, he just looks so bloody miserable, sitting there penned up in that damn box

    • John Schmidt

       /  April 6, 2017

      Integrity and honesty are values that are big for the Hagamans so big that they are willing to spend over $200k and still counting to defend it. Little does not have the same passion for these qualities.

  3. Brown

     /  April 6, 2017

    Stupid is as stupid does. Does being a union bully mean you throw brains away in the real world as well?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 6, 2017

      You don’t get me, I’m part of the union (x3)
      Till the day I die (x2)

      I know a man from the North of England, and he still has that them and us mentality-bosses are there by undeserved good luck.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 6, 2017

    He was an idiot to make those remarks in the first place without checking and rechecking; the legal equivalent of ‘measure thrice, cut once.’

    The Hagamans were accused of bribery and the National Party of accepting bribes; there is no getting away from that. These are very serious accusations.

    • It’s very simple I believe. You get up and say it in The House, & then you just refer to your statements in the House outsed Parliament, & if the government goes all snarky and the Speaker refers it to the Privileges Committee, you explain about public interest & duty to keep government honest and that sort of thing there & you might be ok in the end. With a bit of luck they don’t bother to do that. Otherwise, if you don’t do it there, and you don’t very smartly apologise humbly & completely enough when the Auditor-General says the management contract deal was all done properly & was all above board, you can end up in Court looking stupid and possibly getting a lot poorer very suddenly. My understanding anyway.

      • Nelly Smickers

         /  April 6, 2017

        Wayne still thinks there is a real possibility of it going in Andy’s favor…. with a finding of *Qualified Privilege*.

        • Gezza

           /  April 6, 2017

          Well, he’s an idiot savant so I certainly don’t dismiss his opinion on this.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  April 6, 2017

            Jeez Geez……as *PG* himself warned here yesterday, I hope you’re not trying to escalate this into a *personal shit storm* ❓

            You’ll have him down on you like a ton of bricks ❗

            • Gezza

               /  April 6, 2017

              I’m sure PG is aware how uniquely – if obliquely – gifted Wayne is Nellers. 👍

          • Gezza

             /  April 6, 2017

            Bit disappointed there’s no live screening of the proceedings actually Nellers.
            I can’t stand NewShub so I have to watch 1Ewes for updates but if it’s, like, Katie, or some other dinglebunny doing the reporting, they only ever show really short clips of bits that make Andy look stupid so you don’t get to see the other parts where he has them on the ropes & the shifty or piercing eyes & body language n stuff.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  April 6, 2017

              I *still* haven’t got used to Andy since he switched to those ridiculous contact lenses…..

          • Gezza, Yellow card, nearly a red one. Wipe your chin and say you really didn’t mean it?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 6, 2017

        He went far beyond that-and included other people in his remark. Privilege, schmivilege. The silly bugger said it in public.

        I know about Parliamentary Privilege-Winston P is a great believer in it. Say something in the House for the whole world to hear, then claim Parliamentary Privilege and nobody can do anything about it. AL hasn’t learned from Uncle Winston.

        I don’t see how he had to remortgage his house for the money-surely he has enough for a debt like that. What’s he spending it on ?

  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 6, 2017

    His lawyer was once my mother’s lawyer-John Tizard.

    If that privilege was a defence, as ‘Wayne’ claims, why hasn’t it been used ?

    He may well have had laser surgery on his eyes-it would be impossible to see contact lenses when someone’s wearing them.

  6. Gezza

     /  April 6, 2017

    Was there anything about Andy’s adventures in Court today on the tv? I was watching 1Ewes but I dozed off at the start of the second segment. Hadn’t featured as a headline item.

  7. Brown

     /  April 7, 2017

    The issue here is that the court is in a difficult position because bankrupting a politician, especially at this level, will require courage that politically appointed people lack. I think he’ll get off and then he’ll trumpet about being vindicated and accidentally (because he doesn’t think) immediately have another poke at the Hagamans. Andy plucks defeat from the jaws of victory.

  1. Little “accepted…there was no impropriety”? – NZ Conservative Coalition