Hagaman v Little appeal rejected by Supreme Court

The defamation case Hagaman v Andrew Little has reached a conclusion in the Supreme Court, where an appeal on behalf of Earl Hagaman has been rejected.

In April 2017 a jury could not decide on some claims in a defamation case brought by Earl and Lani Hagaman against then Labour Party leader Andrew Little. The jury found that one comment wasn’t defamatory, one was but they couldn’t decide if ‘qualified privilege’ was an adequate defence, and they couldn’t decide at all on four other claims.

An appeal was filed, but not long after the trial (25 May) Earl Hagaman died.

Since then Lani Hagaman has tried to argue that an appeal should survive Mr Hagaman’s death, but has failed.

The Supreme Court ruling follows a Court of Appeal judgment in November:

[1] Does the late Mr Hagaman’s appeal against a High Court Judge’s ruling in a defamation trial survive his death? That is the question this judgment is concerned with.

Background

[2] Mr and Mrs Hagaman owned a large New Zealand hotel chain. In 2014 Mr Hagaman made a substantial donation to the governing National Party of New Zealand. The Hagamans’ hotel chain later received Niue Government funding to
upgrade a hotel in that country. The ultimate source of that funding was New Zealand Government aid assistance. The Leader of the Opposition Labour Party of New Zealand, Mr Little, drew a connection between these events in a series of six
public statements.

[3] The Hagamans issued proceedings in defamation against Mr Little in June 2016. Trial commenced in April 2017. During the trial Clark J ruled that the six statements were protected by qualified privilege. The jury were agreed that
Mrs Hagaman’s claims failed. They also agreed that two of Mr Hagaman’s six claims failed. But they could not agree on the other four. Judgment was entered in the High Court for Mr Little against Mrs Hagaman. No judgment was entered in relation to Mr Hagaman’s claim.

[4] The present appeal against the Judge’s ruling concerns one only of those four disagreed claims — the second cause of action. The appeal was filed in April 2017. Mr Hagaman died in May 2017. Although his personal representatives have not yet been substituted as appellants, they are responsible for the present conduct of the appeal and accept responsibility for any costs ordered on it.

[5] The question trail on the second cause of action given to the jury by the Judge, and the answers they gave, were as follows:
First named plaintiff (Earl Hagaman): Second cause of action
5. Do the words set out in paragraph 10 of the second amended Statement of Claim carry any of the meanings set out in paragraph 11?
[YES]
6. If the answer to any of issue 5 is “Yes”, is that meaning defamatory of the first named plaintiff (Earl Hagaman)?
[YES]
7. If the answer to issue 6 is “Yes” was the defendant (Andrew Little) motivated by ill-will towards the first named plaintiff (Earl Hagaman) or, did the defendant take improper advantage of the occasion of publication?
[NO ANSWER]
8. If the answer to issue 7 is “Yes”, then assess:
(iii) General damages $
(iv) Exemplary damages $
[NO ANSWER]

[6] The practical question we must decide is whether the jury answers on the second cause of action amount to a verdict for Mr Hagaman. We will now explain why this point matters.

When does an appeal in a defamation claim survive death?

[7] The old common law rule was that personal actions in tort (including defamation) abate upon the death of the plaintiff (or the defendant): actio personalis moritur cum persona. The rationale for the rule is that such an action is personal to the victim and his or her tortfeasor, and should not devolve to their estates. Professor Pollock called it a “barbarous rule”. The effect of the rule, as we will see, rather depended on the stage the claim had reached.

[8] The rule was abolished in part by statute in 1936, permitting the continuation of an action despite the death of a party.

[9] Defamation is excluded from the reforming effect of s 3(1). That simply means that the reform (creating a new statutory survival rule for other torts) does not apply to it. For defamation the old common law rule continues.

[10] Whether a defamation claim abates with death or not ultimately depends on the stage the proceeding has reached.

Does Mr Hagaman’s appeal survive his death?

[14] We are concerned only with the second cause of action. Mr Tizard for Mr Little submits there is neither verdict nor judgment on that cause of action. It follows it has abated and the appeal must be dismissed. Mr Fowler QC for Mr Hagaman’s representatives submits that although there is no judgment, the cause of action does not abate because there is at least a verdict. He submits that the jury answers constitute a special verdict finding that Mr Hagaman was defamed by Mr Little.

[15] A special verdict is one where the jury is asked to respond with answers to a series of questions rather than simply stating whether they find for the plaintiff and in what amount.

[16] But an incomplete set of answers will not amount to a verdict for one party or the other. A verdict is a conclusive determination of all factual issues within a cause of action, for one party or the other. The verdict can then be perfected by entry of judgment. In defamation a verdict for the plaintiff must include the jury’s award of damages; otherwise it is incomplete and void.

[17] It is evident that in this case the jury was asked by the Judge to respond to a series of questions, the intended result of which would be a special verdict on each cause of action. This produced verdicts for Mr Little on the causes of action alleged by Mrs Hagaman. It also produced verdicts for Mr Little on the fifth and sixth causes of action alleged by Mr Hagaman. Here the jury, asked questionse, answered either that the words did not bear the meaning alleged or that the meaning was not defamatory. That meant, as the question trail makes clear, that the jury had no more work to do. The answers were complete, even though not all questions had been answered.

[18] The same cannot be said of the second cause of action. The jury’s work was incomplete. Having answered the first two questions affirmatively, they had to go on and answer the third. But they could not agree on it. That is not a special verdict, because there is no conclusive answer on that cause of action. No judgment upon it could be pronounced.

[19] It follows that no verdict was given on the second cause of action. It therefore abates with the death of Mr Hagaman. No appeal may now be advanced upon it. As the whole of the appeal is confined to that cause of action, it also follows that the appeal itself must be dismissed.

Result

[20] The appeal is dismissed.

[21] The appellant’s estate must pay the respondent costs for a standard appeal on a band A basis and usual disbursements.

This decision was appeared in the Supreme Court. RNZ: Little defamation appeal rejected by Supreme Court

A bid by the late Earl Hagaman’s estate to continue a defamation case against former Labour leader Andrew Little has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Mr Hagaman – who died in May last year – and his wife Lianna-Merie sued Mr Little for statements made about a hotel contract.

A jury was not able to reach a conclusive verdict.

Mr Hagaman’s widow tried to continue the case, taking it to the Court of Appeal.

It ruled the case could not continue after Mr Hagaman’s death and the decision was taken to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decision today said the arguments by Mr Hagaman’s representatives were not sufficient to warrant a retrial.

Mr Little has been awarded costs.

So a win and costs award for Little, but it will have (hopefully) been a lesson to him. He will obviously not want to be taken to Court again, especially now he is Minister of Justice and Minister for Courts.

Anti-free speech litigation versus anti-free speech petition

Last week Bob Jones included some inflammatory comments in an NBR article. As a result of reaction NBR pulled the column and said they would no longer publish columns from Jones.

In reaction Renae Maihi started a petition asking that the Prime Minister strip Jones of his knighthood, calling the column ‘a vile racist rant’.

Stuff: Tens of thousands sign petition to strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood

Acclaimed film-maker Renae Maihi started the change.org petition on Thursday morning. “There is public support for this, somebody can’t get away with hate speech like that and not be held to account,” she said.

Maihi is upset by what Jones wrote in his regular National Business Review column last week, under the title ‘Time for a Troll’. He said a new public holiday should be introduced called Māori Gratitude Day instead of Waitangi Day.

“I have in mind a public holiday where Maoris bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash & polish our cars & so on, out of gratitude for existing.” Jones also commented on children, blood quantum and suicide.

“I think he went beyond trolling, it’s hate speech,” Maihi said.

Maihi admits it’s unlikely Jones will lose his knighthood but will continue to collect signatures and approach the Prime Minister formally at a later date.

“He’s been honoured amongst a group of people that are meant to inspire and I just don’t think he’s very inspirational at all with those extreme racist comments. I just don’t think he deserves to be called a Sir anymore.”

Obviously Maihi had a right to criticise Jones, but I criticised her attempt to punish Jones for exercising his right to free speech. See Anti-Jones petition worse than inflammatory column.

Now Jones is threatening to punish Maihi for what she said about him through the courts.

Newshub: Sir Bob Jones threatens legal action against anti-racist petition

Sir Bob Jones has threatened legal action against filmmaker Renae Maihi, after she started a petition to have him stripped of his knighthood.

Sir Bob told RadioLIVE’s Ryan Bridge that his column was clearly satirical and he would sue Ms Maihi for defamation.

“For God’s sake, if anyone can take that literally, they’ve got serious problems,” he said. “It’s basically a mickey-take on issues of the day.

“I will be issuing proceedings against this woman for defamation, because I take particular exception when she uses the word ‘hate’. I don’t hate anyone.”

That seems like a heavy handed anti-free speech act that only someone with a lot of money could afford to do.

An over the top reaction to an over the top petition in reaction to over the top comments in a column.

Maihi remains staunch – for now: Film-maker stands her ground over petition against Sir Bob Jones

The woman behind a petition to strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood is standing her ground, despite the threat of being sued by the property magnate.

In a statement, Maihi told Fairfax she would not be taking down the petition, which had received more than 49,700 signatures by 5.40pm today.

“People like Bob Jones need to understand that the privilege they have in society also comes with a responsibility, and at a bare minimum that includes not writing flagrant hate speech in the media,” the statement reads.

Just yesterday she wrote on her Facebook page that she welcomed further support.

“Support welcome, I’ll need it – clearly he’s one of the wealthiest men in this country and I am not,” the post reads.

“I will always stand up for the mana of our children.”

A later update on the Facebook page showed she had been offered assistance from lawyers.

Sir Bob told One News earlier this week that the column was a “p*sstake” and that he took exception to it being called hate speech.

“I won’t sue her for a lot because that would seem like I’m bullying her,” he said.

Both he and Maihi are taking excessive action in response to the speech of others.

Perhaps Jones’ threat is just another piss-take.

Williams v Craig appeal – reserved decision

Not surprisingly the Court of Appeal has reserved it’s decision after a two day appeal hearing in the defamation case between Jordan Williams and Colin Craig.

Stuff:  Jordan Williams might be victim of his own success in defamation case

The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision on his attempt to recapture the $1.27 million award for defamation the jury made against Conservative Party founder and former leader Colin Craig.

It was such a big win  – the largest defamation award in New Zealand, and the maximum Williams had sought – that a High Court judge set it aside, and the Court of Appeal looks unlikely to reinstate it.

After the jury’s award was set aside and a new trial ordered, Williams appealed to have the jury’s verdicts upheld.

The Court of Appeal indicated that the damages probably could not stand.

If damages alone had to be assessed again, it was a question of whether the original trial judge could fix them; whether a jury might do so, based on a more limited body of evidence; or whether the whole case had to be run again.

Williams’ other lawyer, Peter McKnight, said Williams would agree to having the original trial judge fix damages, even though she appeared to have an adverse view about Williams in some respects.

That sounds like an acceptance that a lower award is inevitable, at best, and Williams obviously wants to retain the verdict.

Craig’s lawyer Stephen Mills, QC, said the Court of Appeal had to be satisfied the jury had not reached its decisions through “gross prejudice”.

Craig wants a new trial to have another chance at defending himself.

The original judgment took a long time. The judgment in Slater v Craig is taking a long time – the case was hear in May.

It seems unlikely a decision will be made here before the end of the year.

Williams v Craig appeal

The appeal in the Jordan Williams v Colin Craig defamation case started today.

RNZ: Colin Craig defamation case back in court

In September last year a jury in the High Court at Auckland found Mr Craig had defamed Mr Williams and awarded Mr Williams damages of $1.27 million.

However earlier this year the court ruled that amount was unreasonably high, constituting a miscarriage of justice.

The highest previous defamation award was $825,000 granted to the Auckland accountant Michael Stiassny in 2008.

In her review of the case in April Justice Katz said the damages awarded were well outside any reasonable range by a significant margin.

So it has gone to appeal.

Jordan Williams’ lawyer, Peter McKnight told the Court of Appeal today that Justice Katz had not misdirected the jury and even if she did, it was not on a level requiring a retrial, as sought by Mr Craig.

“There was a very clear determination by the jury as to liability. It is suggested it would be a serious injustice to Mr Williams if he lost the advantages of those findings,” Mr McKnight said.

Justice Harrison questioned why the case had come before a jury in the first place.

“It should have been judge alone from the outset then we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

He also raised what should happen next if the Court of Appeal decides Justice Katz was correct to set aside the damages awarded against Colin Craig.

“Enough judicial resources have been wasted on it already and it would be most unfortunate to have to go through another trial.”

“What we want to know is do we have jurisdiction to order she has [the power] to settle all outstanding issues.”

A lot of time and court resources have gone into what is largely a political spat.

Stuff:  Jury must have ignored judge’s defamation case directions, court told

 

Williams’ lawyer, Peter McKnight, suggested the Court of Appeal could assess the damages, or another High Court jury could be asked to do so, using the first jury’s findings of facts, and hearing evidence only from Williams and Craig. Craig objected to having the trial judge set damages.

At the appeal hearing, one of the judges, Justice Rhys Harrison, said the court recognised the integrity of the jury’s verdict on Craig’s liability, and its provisional view was that Williams was entitled to that verdict unless the court was persuaded Justice Katz had made a wrong legal ruling on one of Craig’s potential defences.

Not surprisingly Williams wants it over as soon as possible, retaining the jury verdict and having damages set. Id that happens they are going to be less but could still be substantial.

Craig’s lawyer, Stephen Mills, QC, thought the case should be started again. The first jury’s decisions looked as if they had not followed the judge’s directions.

Mills said that, after the jury finished its work at the High Court in Auckland in 2016, Justice Sarah Katz had commented that the jury must have hated Craig to have decided as it did.

Mills said the judge had misdirected the jury about a possible defence, but he also agreed that it appeared the jury did not follow the judge’s directions in any event.

And Craig wants a new trial, giving him a second shot at winning, and at worst having the damages award reduce.

The appeal will continue tomorrow.

Labour MP files defamation papers

Another political defamation  case, this time Labour MP Raymond Huo , who has filed papers against People’s Party president Steven Ching and his wife Ailian Su.

NZH:  Raymond Huo says he was falsely accused of corruption & criminal record

Labour MP Raymond Huo claims he was the target of a nasty campaign leading up to the election that falsely accused him of having a criminal record and then asking police to wipe it.

Huo’s lawyer Kalev Crossland filed defamation documents in the Auckland High Court last week against People’s Party president Steven Ching and his wife Ailian Su, who he says spread false material damaging to Huo.

Crossland, who said the papers would be served this week, claimed that Ching and Su republished material in the lead-up to the election on popular Chinese social media app WeChat – a popular platform with broad reach in the Auckland Chinese community.

The court file says that the materials falsely accused Huo of dishonesty, corruption, having a criminal record, and that he was behind media stories questioning the Chinese military background of National MP Dr Jian Yang.

It further states that Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, when he was Labour Party leader, went with Huo to a police station and asked “Police Officer S” to delete Huo’s criminal record.

Goff told the Herald there was no truth to the story.

Huo is seeking a declaration of defamation and legal costs. He questioned who authored the material, suggesting it was designed to boost the popularity of Ching as well as divert attention away from the media spotlight on Dr Yang’s background.

Crossland said he asked Ching and Su to provide evidence of the claims, “which they didn’t and they couldn’t because none of it was true”.

“This was done very strategically in the lead-up to the election. If you’ve got a question mark over you, even if it’s not true, it might tip them away from voting for Raymond. It was a really nasty thing to have done.

“Many clients would seek aggravated damages, but Raymond just wants his name cleared.”

Court documents say: “The plaintiff’s reputation has been seriously damaged, and the plaintiff and his family has suffered considerable distress and embarrassment and, due to the permanent nature of online publication, will continue to have his reputation damaged.”

Attempts were made to ‘cease and desist’ but presumably were not successful/

Huo sent cease-and-desist letters to Ching and Su after the material surfaced. Ching and Su subsequently issued a press release saying they did not write the material, though they found the contents interesting and they had shared it among friends.

Ching told the Herald he did not write the material, nor did he know who had written it, and legal action against him and his wife was “not fair”.

It’s sad to see politics played out in the courts.

Craig v Stringer defamation

Details of one of the defamation cases related to the Colin Craig fall from grace in the Conservative Party were revealed in court in Christchurch today.

Stuff: Details emerge of defamation case settlement between former Conservative Party members

Details of a confidential defamation settlement between former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and former board member John Stringer have emerged from a High Court hearing in Christchurch.

The hearing heard that as a part of the settlement in January, Stringer was to pay $100,000 to Craig.

The payment was subject to a “means verification process”, which examined his ability to pay and after that process he was not required to pay anything.

The day-long legal argument was held in Christchurch on Monday after Stringer filed an application to have Associate Judge Rob Osborne recall his judgment, set it aside, and strike out the proceedings.

Alternatively, Stringer sought to have the judgment recalled and reworded to reflect the actual financial payment, without having it struck out.

At the settlement conference in late January, the parties agreed Stringer would apologise, retract his statement, and pay an undisclosed sum.

Stringer told the hearing the amount agreed on was $100,000.

Stringer argued on Monday that all the “financial matters” could not be discussed but in the days after the deal, Craig was reported in the media as saying Stringer would pay Craig an undisclosed sum.

After the means verification hearing, which decided nothing should be paid, Craig said Stringer had published on his Facebook page that the case had been “settled for zero”. A print-out of the Facebook entry was produced to the court.

Associate Judge Osborne said: “Publication of the zero settlement was clearly misleading.”

Craig told the hearing: “Disclosure of the zero payment has devalued the settlement to me.”

Stringer said Craig had disclosed part of the text of the letter from him to McGregor, but the full 12-page text only reached him after the settlement conference. It caused the settlement conference to be unacceptable to him.

Craig said he disclosed the part of the letter that he had kept on McGregor’s employment file at the party office, but he did not have the full letter himself. He had sought it from McGregor through a non-party disclosure application, and she eventually provided it.

The judge reserved his decision and said it would take 5-6 weeks for him to issue it.

This is one of a number of defamation cases related to revelations emerging from the Conservative Party. whose secretary resigned two days before the 2014 election.

Jordan Williams won a record award from a jury last year but that was subsequently set aside by the judge.

Result
[112] The parties are to file memoranda by 3.00 pm on Wednesday 26 April 2017 advising whether they consent to the Court substituting its own award of damages for the jury’s award, pursuant to s 33 of the Act. If confirmation is not received by that date that both parties consent to such a course, then I order that the jury’s verdicts be set aside and the proceedings be set down for a retrial on the first available date that is convenient to senior counsel.

I don’t know what has happened in the proceeding since then.

 

Craig attempted a defamation claim against ex Conservative staff member J Stiekma.

[36] The entire claim is therefore struck out pursuant to District Court Rule 15.1
pursuant to the Jam eel principle, and particularly because of the extremely limited
dissemination of the admitted statements and the unlikelihood that they would have
any effect whatsoever on Mr Craig’s reputation.

Craig v Slater tit for tat defamation went to trial in May, with the judge reserving his decision on June 1. There is no judgment on that yet.

Source: http://www.defamationupdate.co.nz/2017

Craig ordered to pay costs

Colin Craig has been ordered to pay costs after an attempt by him to sue an ex-employee for defamation was  rejected by the Court.

Stuff on 31 July: Judge throws out Colin Craig’s bid to sue former employee for defamation

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has been dealt another blow at court, with a judge throwing out his attempt to sue a former employee for defamation.

Judge Gary Harrison said at the Auckland District Court it would be a waste of time to let the embattled businessman proceed with his attempted legal action.

“I have serious misgivings that it would be appropriate to keep these proceedings alive,” Harrison wrote, in a decision released on Monday.

Craig claimed he had been defamed by Jacky Stiekema, who previously worked as a trust accounts manager for his company Centurion Management Ltd, and he sought $240,000 in damages.

Judge Harrison concluded it was highly unlikely court proceedings would prove Stiekema wrong in her denials, and said the Facebook comments in themselves did not warrant defamation proceedings.

He wrote that only one other of Stringer’s 200 friends responded to the message thread, and Stiekema’s remarks would have had little impact.

“I regard the effect they would have on Mr Craig’s reputation as minimal,” he said.

“The costs associated with a trial that would occupy the order of five days, perhaps more, are simply not justified.”

RNZ yesterday: Colin Craig ordered to pay $17k in costs to woman he tried to sue

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has been ordered to pay more than $17,000 in costs to a woman he tried to sue for defamation.

In a decision released today, Judge Harrison awarded Ms Stiekema $17,600 in costs.

Whale Oil has posted Colin Craig smacked with costs, used law suit for “ulterior motive”

What Colin Craig did to Mrs. Stiekema is awful. He is out for vengeance and flailing away at anyone who dares speak the truth about him.

I agree that what Craig tried to do here was awful.

I also think this is awfully hypocritical of Cameron Slater, given how much vengeful flailing he has been associated with in the courts, as unsuccessfully as Craig was here.

This unsuccessful flailing by Craig should serve as a deterrence to anyone trying to use the courts to shut truth telling up.

The courts are starting to wise up to his multiple law suits and to why he is doing it.

That reminds me of someone else.

Bennett accusations and online risks

Serious accusations have been made about Paula Bennett online, and Bennett has responded with a crease-and-desist letter and threats of legal action.

Warnings have also been issued about the risks of sharing and linking too potentially defamatory information.

1 News:  Retired judge warns public after Paula Bennett threatens lawsuit over online post

A retired judge with considerable experience in laws surrounding online issues says those who share posts which break the law could be legally liable themselves.

The comments by retired Judge Dr David Harvey, who is Director of the New Zealand Centre for ICT Law, come after Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett threatened legal action over an online post accusing her, without evidence, of several historical criminal acts.

According to a cease-and-desist letter sent to a North Island man by lawyers acting for Ms Bennett, a post and video were published on June 30 containing “material highly defamatory of the Deputy Prime Minister”.

The post has been widely circulated and the letter states it has already had more than 5400 shares.

Dr Harvey told 1 NEWS that people who hit share on such posts should be aware they could find themselves at the sharp end of a lawsuit.

“They themselves could be deemed to be publishers of the information and be liable for whatever legal wrong they have done,” he said.

“It could be a breach of confidence, it could be intentional infliction of emotional distress … it could be the sharing of information under the Harmful Digital Communications Act or it could be defamatory.”

So there must be no reference to, links to or hints of the actual allegations on this site.

The letter from Ms Bennett’s counsel said “not only do these allegations very seriously defame the Deputy Prime Minister, but she, and we as her lawyers, will regard it as a form of harassment”.

“You should immediately remove this content.”

The lawyers acting for Ms Bennett say that further action could be requested in future in terms of remedial action and also say a restraining order could potentially be requested.

The letter emphasises Ms Bennett’s “categorical rejection” of all claims made in the post.

Apart from the allegations from one person there apparently has been no corroborating evidence published.

If the person has real allegations and has been frustrated for years in getting them addressed then they are in a difficult situation. This may not be a sensible way to try and deal with it.

The person apparently tried to get parties to publicise their allegations during the last election campaign and no one was prepared to go public with them.

From time to time I get emailed stories that make serious allegations and claims, sometimes about MPs and Ministers. With no facts to back them I won’t do anything with them.

A recent email claimed that Princess Diana was still alive and living secretly living somewhere – I didn’t read very far, perhaps she is shacked up with Elvis in a Yeti cave.

I don’t know any details of the allegations against Bennett, I haven’t tried to find out, but some hints have been made on other blogs who have (in my opinion) promoted the story and encouraged some discussion unwisely albeit with some warnings and moderation. They have allowed some Bennett bashing.

I have posted this as a story of interest, but without any evidence in this case most of the interest is in the use of social media to both unfairly attack people and to try to redress perceived wrongs.

The general issues can be discussed, but please don’t post anything that hints at any detail of Bennett accusations. Any comment that could put this site at risk may be deleted.

MacGregor files lawsuit against Craig

It was revealed recently that Colin Craig had filed defamation proceedings against Rachel MacGregor in November last year but hadn’t served her. He said he may or may not proceed with it.

MacGregor said that the media report was the first she knew about it.

Today from NZ Herald:  Rachel MacGregor files lawsuit against Colin Craig

Last week Radio New Zealand reported that Craig was planning to sue MacGregor for defamation if he lost the case against Whale Oil.

But Craig denied that report to the Herald, saying he had “historically” considered suing MacGregor but decided against it.

In response MacGregor said she had been advised that Craig’s “failure” to serve those proceedings on her or her lawyers for several months was a breach of the High Court rules.

Craig confirmed to the Herald that defamation papers had been filed last November, but would not say whether they had been served to MacGregor, whether it was an abuse of process, and whether he planned to withdraw the defamation suit as requested.

The Herald can reveal that MacGregor is counter-suing Craig and filed papers in the High Court at Auckland today.

It is understood those papers have been served on Craig.

“When media alerted me that Mr Craig had sued me I sought legal advice,” she told the Herald tonight.

“That advice was that I needed to file a document by today in order to protect my legal position.

“I will not be commenting further at this stage as the matter is before the court.”

The defamation saga involving MacGregor, Craig, Jordan Williams, Cameron Slater and John Stringer has yet another complication.

 

Statement from Rachel MacGregor

Statement from Rachel MacGregor

I have become aware that Colin Craig filed defamation proceedings against me in November last year.

Despite filing those proceedings nearly seven months ago, Mr Craig has not served papers on either me or my lawyers. I only became aware of the claim after media comments by Mr Craig in the last few days.

My understanding is that the proceedings relate to matters that I consider were resolved in mediation before the Human Rights Commission and in my subsequent case before the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

I have been advised that Mr Craig’s failure to serve those proceedings on me (or my lawyers) for several months is a breach of the High Court rules. It is unclear to me why Mr Craig would want to file proceedings but not give me notice of them.

I strongly believe Mr Craig’s claim against me is an abuse of process.

Over the last year I have been dragged unwillingly into being a witness in two Court proceedings by Mr Craig and others. I have been required to give evidence that was both highly personal and highly distressing.

I would like to get on with my life.

I invite Mr Craig to put an end to this by withdrawing these proceedings.

I intend to make no further comment at this time.