Winston’s legal fishing fizzles into fake news

Winston Peters has made some bizarre claims about his legal action that targeted National MPs and staff plus a department head and two journalists. Peters is claiming a major victory, but it appears to be more like his fishing has fizzled.

His attempt to use his lawyer and the court to attack the then Prime Minister and other MPS, and also journalists, apparently without solid evidence, is quite alarming. His bluster has been busted.

Stuff has bizarre quotes from Peters on the end of the fishing expedition, if one of the journalists targeted can be believed.  Tim Murphy’s story  sounds far more plausible, claiming Peters may be doing some fake news.

Stuff: Winston Peters looks to ‘next phase’ of suing National over alleged privacy breach

Winston Peters is charging ahead with a legal battle against National Party politicians and staff over his Superannuation leak.

However, he has dropped his legal case against two journalists.

The deputy prime minister and NZ First leader alleges his privacy was breached by former government ministers and senior staff.

Last year, leaked information led to Peters being outed as having claimed more in Superannuation payments than what he was entitled to.

Following the leak, which led to news stories about the overpayments, he lodged legal proceedings, naming nine defendants.

The defendants named on the affidavit filed at the High Court were Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle, National leader Bill English and his former chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, former ministers Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce, and Anne Tolley.

The initial proceedings also named two journalists among the defendants, but Peters said “the application for pre-proceeding discovery against the two media intended defendants has been amicably resolved”.

Murphy responds to amicably resolved” with “That was probably because our refusals of his requests were always polite and we opted not to seek costs from him for wasting all of our time.”

On Friday, a National Party spokesman said Peters had withdrawn the current court papers against all named defendants in the National Party, and the court date had been vacated.

“We note that Mr Peters has withdrawn his action against all parties.

“We’re completely relaxed about any further steps he may or may not take.”

No further papers had been filed in their place, at this stage, the spokesman said.

However, Peters said he intended to continue with legal proceedings against the six National Party defendants.

He refused to say what the “second phase” of the legal proceedings would involve, citing sub judice, and whether he would be seeking damages.

Peters said he did not know when the second stage would start, adding that the court had not yet scheduled a date.

That’s a bizarre statement. The court date ‘has been vacated’, no further papers have been filed, so it is impossible for the court to set a new date with nothing to act on.

In regard to the initial naming of the Newshub and Newsroom journalists as defendants, Peters said he never attempted to breach journalistic privilege, and they were only named as defendants as part of the discovery process, “there was a wide range of information available about the misbehaviour of the perpetrators that I, as the plaintiff, was entitled to seek, and now have”.

I think that “only named as defendants as part of the discovery process” is an alarming admission. This could amount to abuse of the court process, and looks like an attack on how our media functions as a part of our democracy.

Tim Murphy’s take is in complete contrast – Peters throws in the towel.

He postured away for three months in the courts but yesterday abandoned his action against two journalists (myself and Newshub’s Lloyd Burr), signalled he’ll give up against the chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development and asked the High Court to cancel his hearing date against six National Party former ministers and staff.

Somewhere deep in his mind the Minister of Racing found it possible to call all this a victory and claim he will undertake a ‘second phase’ against his political opponents because they’ve allegedly told him through court affidavits more than he wanted to know.

…if his claim about the ‘new’  information from National is as accurate as his claim that we journalists provided the information his court action had sought, then he would be indulging in fake news.

Peters, via his idiosyncratic old legal ally Brian Henry, sought journalists’ notes, meeting notes, discussions with fellow journalists, phone, text and electronic records relating to the story which broke in August last year that he had taken much more money from the state for his super than that to which a person in his personal situation was entitled.

He got all-but-nothing of the above: one scrawled page of a few disconnected and opaque words from another journalist at Newshub attached to their affidavit, which advanced his cause not a jot. He did, however, get set right about his claims of a vast political-media conspiracy against him.

The two media affidavits under oath refused to provide any material which could, incrementally or substantially, lead to the identification of the source of the information about his super windfall.

They told Peters, 72, he was misguided and making claims that were just not true.

It sounds like Peters imagined a grand conspiracy theory and tried use the court to prove it – and failed.

Peters has a history of making serious accusations, claiming he has evidence, but failing to front up with any substance.

Claim after claim he had made in his own affidavit and statement of claim was rebutted clearly under oath. For example, people who Peters claimed spoke of the matter in advance of media inquiries to him have sworn that they had not known about his overpayments until the day of his own public outing of his ‘mistake’. Others swore they mentioned it to no one after having been briefed.

So the information Peters now has as a result of his legal action is that he his accusations and bluster was wrong?

Who to believe? The politician who held up a ‘No’ sign at a press conference when asked if his party received funds from millionaire Owen Glenn when it did?

The man who now tries to say black is white, night is day and journalists provided him with information he sought on interviews, communications and sources?

At 3.6% in the latest poll the number of people who believe or believe in Peters seem to be rapidly diminishing.

The man who had his lawyers sign and file this court action against National the day before the election and then purported to negotiate a possible coalition with them in good faith.

It’s not just National who should question whether a possible coalition was negotiated in good faith or not. Peters played the public then too.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

People have been fooled by Winston’s bluster many times.

Now this latest bluster has been busted he looks like an old fool.

After this, one could also go back to asking how much he knew about his superannuation overpayment, and when he knew. This legal attack on politicians and journalists and public servants looks like it could have been a deliberate diversion.