Peters responds to court dismissal of claims over privacy breach

On Monday Winston Peters claims for damages and declarations against five defendants, including two MPs (Ministers at the time of Peters’ Super over payment leak) and two Government Department heads were dismissed by Venning J in the High Court due to no evidence identifying who was responsible for the leak.

Peters has responded via Statement From Rt. Hon. Winston Peters – New Zealand First Leader

Winston Peters has acknowledged the ruling by Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Venning.

“Every New Zealand citizen is entitled to their privacy. This case has caused considerable stress. “It is seriously welcome to see that Justice Venning confirmed that this was a deliberate and malicious breach of privacy done with the intent to damage my reputation and cause harm.

“This was always going to be a difficult case because as the decision points out despite evidence of malicious behaviour we had to prove who did it. Our values, human rights and democracy have privacy as their foundation stone. On this matter the decision of the court was very encouraging.

“While we are disappointed we could not prove who deliberately leaked that data, the ruling makes clear MSD contributed to the error. We hope that MSD reflect on their role in this matter. As the holder of extraordinary amounts of individuals data, it is paramount they take appropriate steps to safeguard New Zealanders’ privacy.

Justice Venning ruled:

  • This was a deliberate breach of his privacy with the intention of publicly embarrassing him and causing him harm.”
  • “the person(s) who provided the information to the media did so deliberately and it seems, at least in relation to dealing with Newshub, did so maliciously and with intent to damage Mr Peters’ reputation by referring to him as “lying” when he applied for NZS as single.”
  • Mr Peters had a reasonable expectation that the details of the payment irregularity would be kept private and not disclosed to parties who did not have a genuine need to know about it or a proper interest in knowing about it. In particular, he had a reasonable expectation that the details of the payment irregularity would not be disclosed to the media.

This looks to be a reasonable concession and summary of the judgment.

There have been some suggestions Peters may appeal but there is no sign of that in this statement.

But it isn’t over yet – costs are still to be determined. From the judgment:

Costs are reserved. If counsel are unable to agree, costs will be dealt with on the papers.

Costs are usually awarded against unsuccessful litigants, but this is an unusually case – the defences were funded by the Government/taxpayer, and they were substantial.

1 News: Winston Peters urged to reimburse taxpayers the $1.2 million spent on his legal fees for failed privacy lawsuit

1 NEWS can reveal taxpayers forked out more than $1.2 million defending those Mr Peters accused.

The figure comes after senior National Party politicians and Government officials stood accused of leaking Mr Peters’ superannuation overpayments to the press.

The Deputy Prime Minister paid his own lawyer but taxpayers footed the bill for the defence according to Crown Law.

That’s a huge cost for a case that fell over on no evidence of who was responsible for the leak.

Paula Bennett:

“I had no idea it was high as $1.2 million. I think he should be having a really good look at having to pay that back to taxpayers – when on all counts he has failed.

1 News also asked a handful of people on the streets of Wellington what they thought but that means next to nothing.

However, Victoria University legal expert Eddie Clark thinks the case was important.

“It’s something that should worry all of us, it could be our information being leaked to ministers or given to ministers and mysteriously finding its way to the media,” he said.

Clark doesn’t sound very expert on the case, the judgment found that ministers were legitimately given the information, and there was no evidence that the leak happened via the ministers.  It could have leaked out of at least two Government departments, or from Peters or whoever he may have told (that seems very unlikely).

Also Paula Bennett says Winston Peters should stump up for Crown’s legal costs over failed court action

Bennett and Peters have been feuding politically for years.

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  22nd April 2020

    Good to see a thread on Winston.
    ‘The Deputy Prime Minister paid his own lawyer but taxpayers footed the bill for the defence according to Crown Law.’.

    Bennett has a cheek.
    Tote up the amount of taxpayers dough that has been spent on legals for her over the…years!

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd April 2020

    This case can be summed up in a sentence:

    Peters adds to his long list of baseless accusations at taxpayers’ expense.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  22nd April 2020

      what does this mean…’The Deputy Prime Minister paid his own lawyer’

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  22nd April 2020

        Do you have comprehension problems or merely an ethical vacuum?

        taxpayers forked out more than $1.2 million defending those Mr Peters accused

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  22nd April 2020

          that’s standard practice.
          Key had a whim to cement a legacy by changing the NZ flag.
          That cost taxpayers 26 million and was a flop.
          Didn’t hear you screaming then!

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  22nd April 2020

            Ethical vacuum displayed. Key offered voters a choice. Peters falsely accused political opponents. B sees no difference.

            Reply
            • Not to mention that the flag change was Andrew Little’s idea in the first place….

            • Duker

               /  22nd April 2020

              Pleeese. ..Key never said he stole someones else idea.
              Weak attempt to fob off his error in pushing it before its time …and pushing his idea of what it should be … a pastiche of existing flag and all blacks

            • Blazer

               /  22nd April 2020

              spending taxpayers money unnecessarily should never be encouraged or …condoned,no matter the…excuse/reason.
              Since you abandoned Values,your ethical indicator has been flashing …’vacancy’ for ..years.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd April 2020

              Another fatuous BBS – Big Blazer Squirrel

    • duperez

       /  22nd April 2020

      Did Peters make a baseless accusation or was it baseless for it being against the particular individuals?

      Justice Venning considered there was a ‘deliberate and malicious breach of privacy.’ Did he think it was a baseless allegation?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  22nd April 2020

        It was baseless against the individuals he accused, dups. I can’t believe that was too hard to figure out. I will concede that was a slight improvement on his standard mode of operation making totally baseless accusations. But it is hardly admirable to falsely accuse a raft of people to serve your political objective aka saving his miserable skin.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  22nd April 2020

          Who was he meant to pick on to lay his fact based accusation? Just take a punt, pull a couple of names out of the hat? Go for those he disliked the most? Or those who were in on the information somewhere along the line?

          Is acting for the purpose of simply looking admirable an admirable quality? It seems from his history that Peters goes for appearances and seeks to construct and manipulate them and I suppose looking admirable might be one of them but not at the top of the list.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  22nd April 2020

            Tort of Privacy isnt a detailed law , as its common law its what the judge thinks it is in the circumstances.
            The best known case in NZ was Hosking v Runting

            Click to access 10.pdf


            Until this case , privacy in that sense didnt exist outside existing statuary protections ( government departments, legal and business transactions etc)

            And in an echo of Peters who won his privacy breach but lost on the damages, Hosking won on the privacy breach but lost on the prevention of the publication of photos of his children. The photos were then not published anyway.
            Its called “winning your case on the law but failing on facts’

            Reply
  3. Duker

     /  22nd April 2020

    Hosking must be in a bind …normally he would be firing full broadsides against Peters ,by the Tort of Privacy is Hoskings own legal hobby horse. Some years ago he took a case for breach of privacy and lost , but he didnt accept that and got a new lawyer, appealed and won. The new precedent was a major change in Privacy law.
    So Peters using the Tort of Privacy should be something Hosking would laud ?
    Whats thats silence ?

    Reply

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