Hagamans want a new trial

Lani Hagaman has said she believes every effort should be made to bring her husband’s claims of defamation to completion.

That’s not what Andrew Little will have wanted to hear, but there could be a few lawyers and judges interested in seeking legal clarification on qualified privilege.

Stuff: Hagamans will keep fighting Labour leader Andrew Little in court

In a statement on Wednesday Lani Hagaman said because the jury was unable to reach verdicts on several of Earl’s claims, she had been advised the court now automatically retries those claims.

“The jury also reached a verdict that Earl was defamed by Andrew Little.  However, contrary to the finding of the court on qualified privilege, my legal advice continues to be that Mr Little was not entitled to protection by that.

“As this matter remains unresolved, I believe it requires clarification,” she said.

“While Earl is still alive I believe that it is important that every effort is made to bring his claims to completion, and I intend to do so.”

No comment so far from Little.


  1. Gezza

     /  April 12, 2017

    Andy’s got a law degree hasn’t he? He’s possibly as keen as the Hagamans terribly expensive silks to get some clarity on the law in this area. I’ll bet Winston’s following developments closely too.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 12, 2017

      I would imagine that this is not exactly the way he would want to do it.

      • Gezza

         /  April 12, 2017

        Winston? I’m fairly certain this is exactly the way he’d like to get get it clarified.

      • Corky

         /  April 12, 2017

        Second time around is usually a guilty verdict. Lets hope the jury makeup is more balanced. Bad news for Andy,win or lose…worse news for The Standard.

        • Blazer

           /  April 12, 2017

          usually ….really,….this is just a leverage tactic imo.Trial st down for…next ..year.

          • It may well be an attempt at leverage. Little is in a better position legally at the moment but in a vulnerable position politically. If there’s another trial hanging over him through the campaign it won’t help his nor Labour’s chances.

            And should he become Prime Minister another trial would be an unwelcome distraction.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  April 12, 2017

              And should he become Prime Minister….

              Are you ‘having a laugh’ Pete? How do you imagine this is even possible? Don’t get me wrong, I’d far rather have a ‘beer & a BS’ with Andy than Bill, but it ain’t gonna happen.

            • It’s still possible. English and National have the economy on their side but otherwise are floundering. Labour has it’s own problems, and Little was struggling even without defamation distracting and discrediting.

              But I’m not making any predictions about the election at this stage.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  April 12, 2017

              It is also possible that I will win first division Lotto on Saturday, although it is highly unlikely…. I’ve made a prediction, & I stand by it. NZF will achieve over 20% of the party vote this year, and Winston will retain his electorate seat.

  2. Winnie doesn’t defame outside the sanctum of Parliament. Too long in the tooth for that sort of silliness.

    • And therein lies my contempt for Peters. He has made so many claims under privelege, grabbed the headlines, promised to back them up, but to my recall when the news cycle moves on, has never come up with the goods.

  3. duperez

     /  April 12, 2017

    I am pleased that Mrs Hagaman is continuing with the case. We are put on earth to accumulate as much money as possible, even until our dying day, or that of our spouse.

    Little made comments which some have judged to reflect badly on the the Hagamans. Mrs Hagaman is clearly quite capable of painting her own picture of herself without Little’s help.

  4. Duperez, that is a bold statement and runs very close to the edge. Let the Judiciary decide, it is in fact a very important matter that has had the finest legal minds at Privy Council level bemused. That is to me the compelling reason for the judicial case to continue. At what stage should a Politician be constrained in making comments about citizens who have been named? Politicians should be careful in exercising their freedom of speech. They do also have an obligation to truth!

    • duperez

       /  April 12, 2017

      Politicians have an obligation to truth? Maybe someone should tell them. Tell them loud and long when they “forget” instead of lauding their ability to get away with it.

      • Actually, they do not have a obligation to tell the truth – whatever that may be. If you look at NZ Law of Defamation (via Google) you will see how they can plead “Honest Opinion”, or absolute privilege or Qualified Privilege. Even the Pricy Council has found problems of defining the limits of privilege accruing to Politicians. I have spent over 4 hours reading the published recent views of those eminent people who are experts in the field and none can give us a definitive finding. Try following the Google trail on “Qualified Privilege in NZ”, you will probably end up with the same sort of headache as I have!

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 12, 2017

    Seems to me they need to short circuit the ruling on qualified privilege by getting an appeal court decision before they go to retrial.

    • That may make sense, that would be a judge only ruling that would establish some clarity on that before going back to trial.

      • Gezza

         /  April 12, 2017

        But can that be done? Can you appeal a failure to reach a decision on qualified privilege to a higher court?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 12, 2017

          The appeal would be on the judge’s ruling on qualified privilege. If you are claiming it was wrong it seems to me what happened after that is rather immaterial.

  6. Brown

     /  April 12, 2017

    Maybe its not about the damages at all now given the last trial but just bleeding Little dry with legal fees. That would be vindictive perhaps but Little is darned annoying so why not?

    • Pete and Brown, I have a similar view. Unfortunately this question has gone all the way to the Privy Council as well as our Court of Appeal, and thus far there is no conclusive statement of the grounds that apply in this sort of case. Looking at the history of the discussions about limits to what is permissible in Politician’s statements there seems to be reluctance on the part of the Judiciary to confront the Politicians and tell them what the limits are. The usual conflict of Executive versus Judicial Power.

      • There’s been a problem that few have been willing to test it in the Courts so there isn’t much case law to go on at this stage.

        It’s tough on Little if this hangs over him through the campaign and beyond, but the only way it will go through each level to the highest court is if someone has resolve and deep pockets.

        • Yes Pete. The pity is that our judiciary and legal community know it is a problem but have not yet grasped the nettle. My view is the test has to be whether of not the comment is directed against a person in their private capacity and is defamatory. Politicians can insult each other in Parliament (it used to be in the “House of Representatives” until the law was changed.) But when it gets personal, without basis of truth, is innuendo, and speculative then constraints need to be applied. There is a right to freedom of speech that we all enjoy in our Democracy, that we have fought and sacrificed for, but this right carries with it an obligation of speaking truthfully and without malice aforethought!

          • Brown

             /  April 13, 2017

            Malice aforethought is where Little falls on his arse in my view. He keeps getting things wrong and doesn’t learn. If he was elected PM cousin Kim would be his first connecting call.