Cabinet today will decide whether the Crown will pick up the tab for Judith Collins’ defamation suits against Trevor Mallard, Andrew Little, and Radio New Zealand. These suits haven’t a hope of winning. The suit against RNZ, whose offence was to do live interviews, is particularly egregious and calculated to chill media comment. But that’s straight out of Key’s playbook, eh?
I mean, this is the PM who had three media outlets raided by the police during an election campaign to intimidate them into not publishing the tea tapes, all on the grounds of a ludicrous police complaint that wouldn’t have been given the time of day by the cops had it come from an ordinary citizen. Key even had the gall to claim that the Police had ‘spare time’ to investigate while 220,000 crimes went unsolved last year.
Collins’ behaviour is entirely consistent with this modus operandi. Public money will be used and limited state resources – this time of the Courts – tied up for a purely political agenda.
It will be unprecedented for the public to pay for a minister to take defamation suits. But we will. If Cabinet were to vote against that decision, it would be a vote of no confidence in Collins, which would undercut Key who has been giving her his backing.
I don’t think Collins’ opponents are united enough to go there. But it’s interesting to see though the Brat Pack faction in the form of David Farrar moving to undermine Collins again by saying that it will be a political disaster if the public is made to pay for Collins’ politically-motivated law suits.