Crowd funding for defence of Bob Jones defamation action

Action Station has set up a fundraising campaign via GiveALittle to help raise money for Renae Maihi in her defence of  defamation by Bob Jones.

Maihi had set up a petition calling for Jones to be stripped of his knighthood after he wrote a silly “Māori Gratitude Day”  NBR column that disparaged Māori. I thought this was a well intentioned but inappropriate and over the top (and unsuccessful) petition.

In response Jones filed defamation proceedings against Maihi. I think this was even sillier and more over the top from Jones, and could be seen as using the court for bullying that only a rich person could afford.

So I think it’s fair enough to crowd fund for a defence of the defamation.

Fundraiser launched for filmmakers’ defence fund against Bob Jones
Community campaigning organisation ActionStation have launched a Givealittle fundraising campaign in support of filmmaker and mum Renae Maihi. 
 
Earlier this year, Maihi launched an online petition that gathered more than 70,000 signatures asking Parliament for the removal of business mogul Sir Bob Jones’ knighthood.
 
The petition followed a now-removed National Business Review column in which Jones proposed a “Māori Gratitude Day” in place of Waitangi Day where Māori would serve non-Māori out of “gratitude for existing”. 
 
The column was widely described as “racist” by many, including a National Party MP. Last week, the hashtag “#BobJonesIsARacist” was also trending as people took to Twitter to express their views. 
 
Jones is now suing Maihi for defamation. He also sent Waikato University Professor Leonie Pihama a ‘cease and desist’ type letter for a Tweet in which she described Jones’ column as “racist”. 
 
As Andrew Geddis, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago, points out on Twitter, “The targets of both [of Bob Jones’ threats to sue for defamation] have been Māori wahine who speak out strongly on te tino rangatiratanga. Yet if you want to go looking for people who have called Bob Jones a “racist”, you can find lots of examples.”
 
If Maihi loses the suit, she could have to cover Sir Bob’s legal fees. 
 
“We think that’s wrong and have launched a Givealittle crowdfunding campaign to tautoko (support) Renae.” says ActionStation Director, Laura O’Connell Rapira. 
 
“Bob Jones is one of New Zealand’s wealthiest men and he is throwing huge sums of money at this fight. Renae is a grassroots filmmaker and mum. We must show her our support.”

Good on Action Station for doing this (not so sensible of them to support the petition).

GiveALittle: Legal fund for Renae Maihi

Multi-millionaire Bob Jones has issued high court defamation proceedings against filmmaker Renae Maihi and she needs our help

Funds raised will be used to help Renae for any legal bills she may incur as a result of Bob Jones’ lawsuit.

Defamation proceedings can be horrendously expensive just to defend – that’s why usually only rich people attempt them.

While I don’t know what Jones’ motives are here, defamation actions can be used as a form of financial retribution.

The petition: https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-jacinder-ardern-strip-racist-sir-bob-jones-of-his-knighthood-read-his-vile-rant-here/

About the lawsuit: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12065598

I didn’t support or sign the petition, but I think the defamation is thin skinned, over the top, and could be a rich privileged abuse of the legal system.

Has Jones got a reputation to defend here? If it goes to trial that will be for the court to decide.