Judith Collins has tried to go for a lower bar in her defamation suit against Andrew Little and Trevor Mallard to get it over with quicker. But asking for a declaration, rather than damages, doesn’t reduce the legal test. There’s just no way Collins is going to be able to show she was legally defamed, let alone rebuff the defences Little and Mallard have.
No court is going to endorse the kind of chilling effect on political discourse that a win for Collins would create. It would effectively mean that you couldn’t say anything critical of a minister’s actions without risk of being sued and all the cost that entails.
This is another backdown by Collins. She’s dropped the suit against RNZ, now she’s not trying to get any monetary recognition of the supposed damage to her reputation arising from Little and Mallard’s comments.
Most of Collins’ National colleagues wish that she had been able to overcome her pride long enough to see sense and drop the action altogether. The Joyce Faction, however, is more than happy for her to have all the rope she needs.