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You know you’re in trouble when: The bookies open a contract on you

Written By: - Date published: 10:28 am, March 29th, 2012 - 162 comments
Categories: ACC, Judith Collins, police - Tags: ,

One of the amusing things in my mailbox this morning was a link with new contracts at iPredict looking at the possible political casualties from the ACC/Pullar leaks. Looks like the contracts opened yesterday and have had minimal trading when I wrote this post.

You know that bookies sense when there is blood in the water and they’ll create contracts.

I don’t gamble (especially on insider micromarkets like iPredict) but the interesting ones in my mind are:-

  • Judith Collins to cease being a Minister before 1 June 2012
  • An ACC official (excluding Judge, McCliskie or Beehive secondees) to be found to have leaked Boag email
  • Beehive staffer to be found to have leaked Boag email
  • Police to launch investigation into ACC scandal

These also happen to be the highest probability ones on the current trading.

And in other news of the “You know you’re in trouble when..”, Judith Collins reckons that she is going to start defamation proceedings

ACC Minister Judith Collins says she is starting defamation proceedings against two Labour Party MPs and a news media organisation.

Collins alleged on Radio Live this morning that defamatory statements about her had been made outside of Parliament.

“I take my reputation very seriously and when I’ve been defamed I have to take action,” she told host Marcus Lush.

Ah yes.. The relevant comment about that would have to be this one in comments this morning by Frida.

Typical reaction of a NACT bully. When the pressure comes on, squeal to the Police or run and consult a lawyer.

Nothing to worry about here as far as I can see Mickey (I’m a lawyer too). Defamation wouldn’t stick – too many defences available here

Crusher is just trying to shut down debate because she is quaking in her boots as her time is up and her leadership aspirations thwarted

Yep, the results and judgements of the Lange vs Atkinson case pretty much killed the ability of politicians to use defamation as a anti-criticism weapon. That is why recently the political attacks against critics have been launched using spurious police investigations.

The teagate taping results are pretty typical of that approach. In the end it is never judged by the police as being worth while to actually test in court.

162 comments on “You know you’re in trouble when: The bookies open a contract on you”

  1. Deb 1

    “The teagate taping results are pretty typical of that approach. In the end it is never judged by the police as being worth while to actually test in court.”

    However defamation is a civil matter and does not rely on prior police evaluation.
    There are precedents where defamation against politicians was successful.

    • lprent 1.1

      Yep. But this a politicians threatening a news organisation and what are effectively two members of the public when they are out of the house.

      But since the re-judgement in the Court of Appeal on Lange vs Atkinson in 2000 (?) (after it’d come back from the Privy Council), I don’t think I have seen a case by a politician get anywhere near a court. There is a reason for that. There is no real defence against deliberately misusing or inventing “facts”, but there is a defence if you inadvertently get them incorrect.

      It is in the public interest that we expose politicians to scrutiny. Prior to that case there had been a rash of litigation by politicians against critics. After that case the public interest outweighed the politicians outrage and/or attempts to shut down debate.

      Another thing to thank MMP for. The change in voting system was a factor in causing the Court of Appeal to shift the defences when it comes to politicians.

      My point about the police was that since politicians were limited in what they could do with defamation, we have seen a curious rise in political complaints to the police. Few of those politically motivated complaints appear to actually make it to court.

      • Inventory2 1.1.1

        lprent; it’s pretty naive to suggest that MP’s are “effectively two members of the public” when they are out of the House. In fact MP’s do far more of their work away from the House than they do in it.

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          In legal terms they are – if a politician is suing them for defamation. The qualified defence of political speech in Lange vs Atkinson applies just as much to them as any other citizen. Note that it is a “defence”. There is nothing that prevents a politicians being sued by another politician from relying on that defence.

          Perhaps you should read and think about some recent NZ law rather than guesswork and instinct?

          • Tom Gould 1.1.1.1.1

            The defamation action is simply a stunt, and I hope the MSM realise it before getting too carried away. A politician suing a politican for defamation over a political matter? The judge will throw it out.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1.1

              The problem isn’t that the MSM don’t realise that but rather that they won’t inform people that it’s a stunt to divert attention.

  2. alex 2

    Great news for Parata then, or will Collins be more effective from the backbench?

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      If Collins can be proved to have leaked this document, then the only bench she’ll be sitting on is the one provided for defendants in court.

      • Jim Nald 2.1.1

        Threatening defamation? Hope that is not sleepwalking to demotion. Oh well, go ahead …

        “Out, damned spot! out, I say!
        One: two: why, then, ’tis time to do’t.
        Hell is murky!
        … What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
        account?”

        Yet who would have thought [this unravelling mess] to have had so much blood …

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1

          Especially compared to something like Bill English’s double dipping. Slap with a wet bus ticket.

          Write two letters, as a case of bad judgement, and lose your ministerial position. Leak someone’s name and lose your ministerial position (but then Bennett hasn’t been punished for her privacy breaching either?).

  3. DavidW 3

    If Collins is successful will David Shearer insist that the two MP’s concerned resign their seats? Now that would be acting with integrity.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      And by the same token, Key should demand Collins resign her seat if she drops the case.

  4. Deb 4

    Sorry lprent, I cannot accept your definition of politicians out of the house an “two private citizens” – not remotely – their comments were entirely politically motivated.

    As for suing of MPs, the former PM Helen Clarke was sued for defamation twice that I know of – reaching out of court settlements in the instances of Yelash and Brownlee. Perhaps MP v MP is slightly different, but the suggestions outside the house that she has abused her ministerial warrant, without substance thus far, are highly defamatory.

    • Te Reo Putake 4.1

      What were the defamatory comments, Deb?

    • Re the Lange v Atkinson comparison:

      …the courts affirmed a new qualified privilege for the media to discuss politicians when expressing the criticisms as the “honest opinion” of the author. (wiki)

      Atkinson wasn’t a politician. MP v MP might (or might not) make a difference. “Honest opnion” may clash with “political attack”?

      • mickysavage 4.2.1

        Pete you are such a hoot.

        The principle applies to comments made about politicians.  Robust debate is and should be permitted in a democracy.

        It is not a political attack.  FFS someone in Government has leaked private information to the media.  One Minister has already resigned.  Of course there is a proper public interest in what has happened. 

        • Pete George 4.2.1.1

          There could also be public interest in whether you and Mallard and Little are expressing ‘honest opinions” as robust debate or deliberately making accusations you have no evidence for.

          I think you are confusing “robust debate” with deliberate unsubstantiated statements designed to inflict political damage.

          Do you think “honest opinion” covers making accusations you know are unsubstantiated?

          • mickysavage 4.2.1.1.1

            Petey like I said before put up or shut up.
             
            Go on cite comments that I have made which are defamatory.  Knock yourself out.
             
            FYI it sounds like the Herald may be the one in the gun, presumably because of the Fran O’Sullivan article on the issue.
             
            Point out somewhere where I have got even close to what O’Sullivan said.
             

            • Inventory2 4.2.1.1.1.1

              So you have the proof that “someone in Government has leaked private information to the media” micky? To use your own words; put up or shut up ;-)

              • Sure I2
                 
                A private email between erstwhile National party friends finds its way into the Herald on Sunday.  Unless the journalist concerned has mystical powers someone leaked it.

            • Pete George 4.2.1.1.1.2

              You’re choosing to ignore the question again.

              Do you think “honest opinion” covers making accusations you know are unsubstantiated?

              • Te Reo Putake

                Well done, Pete. You have identified that ‘opinion’ and ‘fact’ are two different things. Do you have anything to say that adds value to the debate here?

            • lprent 4.2.1.1.1.3

              FYI it sounds like the Herald may be the one in the gun, presumably because of the Fran O’Sullivan article on the issue.

              It’d be hilarious if that was the case bearing in mind that Fran was defending Collins. When I saw that article I was half-expecting that Boag would be tearing legal avenues to have a go at Fran.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 4.2.1.1.2

            Good grief man , Lange lost when a journalist said he was ‘lazy’. All that has swirled around Collins is on a far higher plane that that and directly related her actions as a minister. Shes admitted printing the email which seems to have had legs of its own from then on.

          • deuto 4.2.1.1.3

            PG

            What is your evidence for making the following claims:

            “deliberately making accusations you have no evidence for.”

            “accusations you know are unsubstantiated?”

            Where is your evidence for “you have no evidence for” and “you know are unsubstantiated” ?

            If you have no evidence for these claims, then they are unsubstantiated.

            Pot calling the kettle ……

            • Pete George 4.2.1.1.3.1

              I don’t have any evidence – and your partial quotes are missing some key aspects of those statements. I didn’t claim those as anything other than queried possibilities.

              Which notably savagemicky won’t answer.

              • felix

                “Which notably savagemicky won’t answer.”

                Ahem. You have started several threads this week which have led to straight questions being put to you which you have left unanswered.

                Perhaps you ought to resolve these before you get too high on your horse.

              • Aw Petey not true.
                 
                I refused to give you details.
                 
                If you read my comments you will see quite a bit of content.  You will have to be patient.

          • Pascal's bookie 4.2.1.1.4

            You just claimed, as matter of fact, that you know what other people know. That you know whether or not they are being honest about their beliefs.

            Are you Jesus?

            • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 4.2.1.1.4.1

              No.

              I am Jesus.

            • Pete George 4.2.1.1.4.2

              “You just claimed, as matter of fact, that you know what other people know.”

              I didn’t. I gave him the option of clarifying and he has so far chosen not to.

              Are you Exodus 20:16?

              • Pascal's bookie

                “I think you are confusing “robust debate” with deliberate unsubstantiated statements designed to inflict political damage.”

                That seems to me to be saying that you think you know when someone is making “deliberate unsubstantiated statements “.

                In other words, you are claiming to know, as a matter of fact, what other people know. Unless you know what they know, it’s impossible to say whether or not it’s deliberate.

                • “I think” and “claiming to know, as a matter of fact, ” are quite different things. I think I’m allowed to express “honest opinion”.

                  I’ll clarify for you by explaining in a different way – I don’t think making “deliberate unsubstantiated statements“ can be claimed to be”robust debate”.

                  And I’d wager that there’s a fair few “deliberate unsubstantiated statements“ that make no attempt to engage in debate, robust or otherwise, but try to inflict political damage.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    Pete.

                    In that quote you say you ‘think’ he is confused.

                    You may think they are making unsubstantiated claims. That’s fine. Think what you want.

                    You seem to be claiming they are making ‘deliberate unsubstantiated’ claims.

                    At the least, you are saying that people can make judgements about whether or not someone else in making an unsubstantiated claim deliberately or not.

                    How do you know if it is deliberate or not?

                    You might have an opinion on their state of mind, and that’s cool. But it will be an unsubstantiated opinion unless you actually know what they know.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    And while I hesitate to get into a discussion about epistemology with you, perhaps it would help my confusion if you could define ‘substantiated’ for me, in the sense that you are using the idea here.

                    thanks.

              • alex

                Ooh good, a biblical lesson from the moral and spiritual conscience of the blogosphere.

                • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                  Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

                  • felix

                    Thank you Father.

                  • Kevin Welsh

                    Hmm, part Ghandi, part Yoda?

                    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                      The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

      • lprent 4.2.2

        MP v MP might (or might not) make a difference

        Unlikely to be any different. It is a defence available to anyone when accused of defamation by a politician.

    • lprent 4.3

      As I have said elsewhere. A legal defence doesn’t care what their motivations are or even who they are. What it cares about is the relevant tests.

      And once again, a non-politician suing a politician for defamation is completely different legal beast to politician suing anyone else (including a politician).

  5. tsmithfield 5

    A lot of hope here seems pinned on Lange v Atkinson.

    An analysis of that ruling is given here.

    Lange v Atkinson [2000] 3 NZLR 385 reaffirms that there is a qualified privilege for the media to discuss politicians. However, the 2000 decision tempers to some extent the generosity of the earlier 1998 judgement.

    • Not every statement about a politician is privileged. The statement must be one which is made on a privileged occasion. That depends on the circumstances and context in which it is made, including the identity of the publisher, the audience, the content, etc.

    • Privilege is lost if “improper advantage is taken of the occasion of publication”. This can be constituted by reckless or irresponsible journalism.

    Notice that priviledge can be lost in the case of reckless or irresponsible journalism.

    Would any of the commentary on this site with respect to Collins qualify as reckless or irresponsible journalism? I am not qualified to give an opinion on that. However, it does seem to demonstrate that there are limits on what can be published about politicians.

    • lprent 5.1

      You’re relying on a source that was talking about media law to a audience of media. That is a wee bit silly.

      It is arguable if we are media or journalists. In fact the Law Commission has been looking at this right now – a debate that I have found to be technically ridiculous considering the rate that barriers to entry are dropping. Are they going to claim that people on twitter are journalists? We don’t claim to be and have never claimed to be the type of media that journalists frequent or that we are journalists (whatever that means).

      If you read the actual judgement then you will discover that the defence is potentially available to anyone. The test about loss of privilege had nothing to do with “reckless or irresponsible journalism” – that was just a framing given to it for that audience. It had to do with the deliberate and knowing misstatement of fact.

      Try reading the several judgements on the L vs A case.

      • Jim Nald 5.1.1

        The Minister responsible for the Law Commission should be in touch with her former Cabinet colleague she appointed, thanks to the special she used that involved ignoring recommendations and not consulting her ministry or other interest groups, to look some more into revising defamation law.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    It is worth bearing in the mind the strongly corporate authoritarian flavour of this government when considering Collin’s actions. Bullying corporate authoritarians – Joyce, Key, Bennett, Collins – dominate this government’s cabinet, along with just plain vanilla bullies like Brownlee.

    As John Key showed over the teapot tapes, corporate authoritarians will show no hesitation in subordinating the levers of power to their personal ends when they are challenged. In the private sector, this takes the form of assuming that the will of the leadership elite can be expressed by manipulating the system via threatening and bullying letters from the corporate legal division and drawn out litigation. In government, it takes the form of an assumption the organs of state power exist entirely to serve the will of the executive branch of government.

    From that mindset, using your access to unlimited taxpayers money to sue in order to try and shutdown a growing public and internal internecine scandal is an entirely predictable course of action.

    • Anne 6.1

      Well said Sanctuary.

      I see some of the dumb pixies from the bottom of the tory garden have been sent here to raise fear and trepidation among the Standard troops. They should know by now that bully boy and girl tactics only serve to whet our appetite…

      Question Time should be interesting this afternoon. Will Collins refuse to answer any questions on the grounds of a pending court hearing? If so, we’ll have proof of the real reason she has embarked on this process. Scared of implicating herself over her role in the scandal!

      • Frida 6.1.1

        Anne, she can’t claim something is sub judice over THREATENED proceedings. So I don’t see how she can use that excuse in response to this afternoon’s questions for oral answer? Maybe after she’s filed proceedings (if she does) but not before surely?

        • Jim Nald 6.1.1.1

          Maybe John Key’s numerous plans, eg cycleway, 170,000 jobs and closing the gap with Oz, will now materialise quickly before her plan for defamation action starts to take shape.

        • Anne 6.1.1.2

          Frida, I’m sure you are right. I have no legal background, but if there is some way she can use the threatened proceedings to get out of answering a question she doesn’t want to answer I’m sure she will – even if it is a trumped up consideration with no substance to it.

      • deuto 6.1.2

        I also found Sanctuary’s analysis excellent – and would add that such people also appear to feel affronted when questioned with Collins’ being a good example in my “honest opinion”. IMO she tends to talk down to the questioner and/or give the impression that they have no right to question her.

        Question time will be interesting – she may well try the “cannot answer as before the courts”. IIRC she tried that one yesterday using the Privacy Commissioner’s expanded investigation as the reason.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1

          IMO she tends to talk down to the questioner and/or give the impression that they have no right to question her.

          Indeed, the tiresome serfs are revolting.

      • felix 6.1.3

        “I see some of the dumb pixies from the bottom of the tory garden have been sent here to raise fear and trepidation”

        Always a good sign.

        In this instance I note that the Parliamentary wing of the party, AND their public activists & stirrers, AND their internet sockpuppet teams are all in as much of a panic as each other.

        Very good sign.

  7. HelensYourAunty 7

    From EDDIE’s whinge on 26th March:

    “Collins has imitated her fellow ministers by leaking Pullar’s private details in revenge.”

    I hope this works out badly for EDDIE too.

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    The PM has said he supports the defamation case. Good on him.

    I remember when Worth reassured him that he would sue anyone who repeated something that was said about him. He never did sue, even when all sorts of people repeated the allegations.

    I trust that should Collins drop the case, Key will respond in a similar fashion.

    Perhaps the PMs confidence in his minister is somehow dependent on the case going forward.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      The taxpayer is paying for her legal machinations so Key has to be in on the loop.

      • Deb 8.1.1

        GWWNZ – the taxpayer also pays for every utterance the members of parliament have.

        While I wish that the entire lot of them would give up their gotcha politicking and invest their time multi-party brainstorming for the good of the nation rather than brainfarting – that’s not about to happen either. We’re stuck with the worst of adversarial politics and, imho, it’s nigh on time some of the worst MP offenders and zealots in the media and blogosphere were held accountable for unsubstantiated claims.

        • Pete George 8.1.1.1

          I agree with you there Deb, but don’t expect many zealots of the blogosphere to take much notice, they seem addicted to the worst of adversarial politics.

        • muzza 8.1.1.2

          Agree on the comments about the MPs, however as I have stated many times, until a mass is reached which demands better of government, then we will see the continued degredation of parliament. It is already below bad joke level currently, and one can speculate as to where the real influences come from externally.

          Media – No chance, the reasons are obivous

          Blogsphere – doesn’t run the country does it..keep the focus on the MP’s

  9. outofbed 9

    So what did radio NZ say, that Collins is pissed about?

  10. tsmithfield 10

    I don’t pretend to be qualified to give an opinion on whether a statement is defamatory or not. However, I think it is fair to say that some statements published on this site come closer to the defamatory end of the spectrum than if they had been stated slightly differently.

    For instance, Eddies statement from the other day:

    “Collins has imitated her fellow ministers by leaking Pullar’s private details in revenge.”

    could have been more carefully worded as:

    “Perhaps Collins has imitated her fellow ministers by leaking Pullar’s private details in revenge”

    or:

    “Did Collins imitate her fellow ministers by leaking Pullar’s private details in revenge?”

    As I pointed out above, priveledge can be lost if publications are consdered as “reckless or irresponsible journalism”. Given that, as I have demonstrated, there are more considered and careful ways of phrasing the statement above, I do wonder if some statements here could be pushing into that “reckless and irresponsible” arena.

    I wonder if the boiling frog analogy could apply here, where unwittingly statements could gradually become more and more extreme, until the boundary is crossed without it even being realised. In this respect, I do wonder if too much faith is being placed in Lange v Atkinson.

    Another point is, that even if a suit for defamation was unsuccessful, the judge may consider the behaviour of the defendant in awarding costs. If the judge feels the defendant has been pushing the boundaries, then the judge may not award very much in the way of costs to the defendant, leaving the defendanat to bear a lot of their own costs. So, winning can be losing.

    Far be it from me to tell the owners here how to run there own site. However, if I were running my own blog, I know I would be using language in the least prejudicial sense possible to get my point across but minimising my potential for liability.

    • bbfloyd 10.1

      weak gerry brownlee impersonation…..

    • lprent 10.2

      I had a careful look at the post when it went up and decided that it was carefully written in a speculative mode rather than

      It is an interesting question if we could be considered to be journalists, and therefore if we are either protected by the rules and laws governing journalists or if we have their obligations in the legal system. An alternative view is that we’re no different from people speculating in a pub or other social club settings which would probably be the case if you were considering income and other characteristics of media.

      We do have a readership that probably exceeds many provincial newspapers and local radio stations. And readership appears to have been the criteria that the Court of Appeals was using. But of course the costs of reaching that audience have reduced to the point that this site was and still is well within my personal budget. We put the advertising in when it hit $150 per month for server costs and it is currently about $400 (and about to fall again).

      But if anyone wants to sue The Standard Trust to find out, then it’d be an interesting exercise in proving a legal point.

      And by the way, the actual test of reckless or irresponsible would be if you published it knowing it was wrong in fact. The problem for Collins is that no-one really knows, but the number of people who had access and position to leak the documents is quite a small set. Leakage from ministerial offices appears to have become rife and it is a practice that I think needs stamping out in the public interest.

      • Lanthanide 10.2.1

        “But if anyone wants to sue The Standard Trust to find out, then it’d be an interesting exercise in proving a legal point.”

        Be careful what you wish for. Defending against legal action can be quite expensive.

        • lprent 10.2.1.1

          Not as expensive as trying to show that there is a case to answer in the first place. And it’d play in public because we aren’t Radio NZ or the Herald.

      • tsmithfield 10.2.2

        1prent, at the risk of being accused of “concern trolling”, I wonder if it might be wise to consider potential liability, regardless of how small, in the way in which articles are constructed.

        As I pointed out above, it is quite easy to say pretty much the same thing, and probably reduce the liability risk considerably, simply by being more careful in the way that sentences are constructed. I realise you are quite confident the risk of litigation is minimal. However, the costs can be quite high, even for the winner. If that risk can be eliminated by simply slightly changing the way points are made, then would it be worth doing so?

        I am reminded of the story of the queen selecting a new carriage driver. Candidates bidded up their skill by claiming how close they could go to the edge of the cliff without falling off, with each candidate claiming they could get progressively closer. The candidate who won the contract was the one who advocated staying as far away from the edge as possible. Food for thought.

        • lprent 10.2.2.1

          We could tone posts well well down to having zero risk. But we could do all sorts of things including requiring logins to leave comments so that we can eliminate anyone who might leave a defamatory remark (our liability is just as high on comments remember). We could require that every post is vetted by a legal team or even a editor before release.

          But basically the site would involve a hell of a lot more work, some very high expenses (lawyers like to be paid), and the site would be completely dull and boring.

          We chose instead to set a policy that places the responsibility directly on the authors and commentators, where we clued up on the legal risks, and where a terrible retribution (ie me and the other moderators) is called on people who transgress. For the most part this has worked pretty well. We keep the site in a standard that would almost certainly pass the legal defence tests if someone was daft enough to sue us rather than pointing what they consider are problems to us.

          In the 4 and half years we have been running we have had a handful of actual complaints (I tend to ignore the thousands of ‘concern’ comments) almost entirely about comments we missed, only one of which we did not remove. There has been one post complained about but I looked at it and found the person was complaining about something being repeated that he’d said elsewhere. There have been several posts where people requested that the post was modified for clarity or fact (because they were showing up on google searches), and I think most of those were done.

          If someone sues for defamation without contacting us with the specifics via e-mail and let us deal with it first, then my presumption will be that they don’t really have an issue, or a real case, and is just indulging in a exercise motivated by factors other than the actual offence. In other words nuisance cases. My general response would be to give them a nuisance response and make them run around..

          Incidentally the costs are far far higher for the person trying to make a case than they are for the defence.

          • tsmithfield 10.2.2.1.1

            1prent: “Incidentally the costs are far far higher for the person trying to make a case than they are for the defence.”

            That wouldn’t surprise me. Except, in this case those making the case would likely be the government who tend to have rather deep pockets, and have already shown a tendency to take legal action to make a point.

            • Colonial Viper 10.2.2.1.1.1

              Using someone else’s money to make a point. How typical ;)

            • lprent 10.2.2.1.1.2

              Yep and you can just imagine how it will play if the government takes a political blog to court for criticizing and speculating…. *smile*

              I’d have a few choices of countries to place the site in, and I suspect it’d open the floodgates to aussie for the resistance movement.

              That is why politicians usually defend their reputation using their own funds. Does anyone have actual confirmation that she has applied for government funds to defend her ‘reputation”? On reflection I’d rather surprised if she has. I have a post working in my head about why it’d be a really bad idea and pretty damn bad for her reputation..

              …have already shown a tendency to take legal action to make a point.

              Not exactly on their own dime. They have mostly gotten the police to do it.

  11. Politicians are employed by the tax payers, tax payers demand a higher standard by those
    employees and if those standards are found to be wanting then those employees loose
    their jobs,end of.
    Tax payers also have a right to demand actual facts and knowledge of corrupt practices,
    within tax payer owned corporations or companies,any denial of producing facts or
    evidence of corrupt practices should be viewed as guilt.
    Tax payers will not and should not turn a blind eye or turn their back on wanting to
    discuss or assess any dubious dealings by any politician.

    • burt 11.1

      So much has changed from the good old days of “The business of government is whatever government say it is” and “move on”… Now we want accountability….

      Love this change – what was it again… Oh that’s right – it’s not your team needing your apologist protection.

  12. Johnny 12

    Owen Jennings MP of ACT got taken down for 50K in 2001. http://tvnz.co.nz/content/35410/2556418/article.html

    Nick Smith had to settle in 2010.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/3793354/Minister-pays-and-apologises.

    Mallard has form when Tuku initiated defamation proceedings against Mallard for comments about Tuku’s spending on underpants.

    • Johnny Jennings and Smith said things about a private individual and a private company.  Not applicable at all.

    • lprent 12.2

      Only one of those is vaguely relevant – the last one (and you notice that it went nowhere?). The first two were non-politicians suing a politician and winning either in court or out of it. Politicians are not particularly protected against defamation cases against them except when speaking in the house.

      If you’d read the post and engaged your brain, you would have realized that it was about politicians suing others for defamation that have a reduced ability to win.

      • Johnny 12.2.1

        I suppose it will come down to whether Mallard behaved “responsibily” in making the allegations and whoever it was in publishing them. Peters has spent years and 1000s trying to sue TVNZ for defamation over that scampi issue and failed at every corner. I agree that’s its wrong for politicians to use defamation to try and shut down questions or debate. If Crusher backdown no mercy should be shown.

  13. SHG 13

    I’m actually surprised Mallard said anything actionable outside the House, he usually cowers behind parliamentary privilege.

    • Dean 13.1

      he didn’t say anything actionable. This is just an effort by Collins to intimidate and distract.

  14. vto 14

    Ahaa!

    Finally, confirmation that much of the shit spoken in Parliament is just that – shit. And defamatory.

    It is clear from this thread and Collins’ statement that defamatory statements inside Parliament are ok. That, if the statements had been inside Parliament then those statements get some sort of legitimacy. What this actually means is that the standards for Parliament are criminally low. They are certainly far lower standards than those to which the public comply.

    And there was Pete George trying yesterday to claim that those who make it Parliament are the cream of the crop. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. It is in fact the opposite.

    Liars and bullshitters.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 14.1

      Most of what is said in court is defamatory as well. But the proceedings and reports are privledged like parliament.

      Your point is ?

      • vto 14.1.1

        I thought the point was pretty clear from the implications of what has been said by Collins and others – that the accepted standards for debate in Parliament are at such a low level that anything said aint worth shit. Not worth listening to. Has no value.

        I understand the reasons for privilege, in the various places it occurs in our society, but that privilege has effects and this particular effect is that the value of debate in Parliament is low.

    • And there was Pete George trying yesterday to claim that those who make it Parliament are the cream of the crop.

      I said they should be, not that they are.

      I agree with you that parliamentary standards are low – but I think we shouldn’t just accept that, we should pressure MPs to do better. Much better.

    • Dean 14.3

      it’s important that nothing MPs say in Parliament can be subject to legal action, or else our sovereign Parliament can be constrained by deep-pocketed litigious persons.

      • vto 14.3.1

        I understand that Dean, but that completely unconstrained debate devalues it at the same time and to such a level that it is impossible to assign a level of truth to anything that is said.

        Don’t ask me what the answer is, I only knows the issue which is unreliable debate.

  15. NickS 15

    /smirk

    Like Collins will actually be able to prove those statements are defamatory with out incriminating herself to some extent, or trying to make a scapegoat out of one her minions and not have it backfire on her.

    • Deb 15.1

      Nick, that is entire conjecture. You can have no knowledge of how things will pan out in a judicial context.

      If only some would confine themselves to the evidence, rather than rely on crystal ball gazing. Fortunately, I am reliably told that the courts work this way :)

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        If only some would confine themselves to the evidence, rather than rely on crystal ball gazing. Fortunately, I am reliably told that the courts work this way :)

        Which was why the PM was relieved to see the Ambrose thing sorted out of court.

        • Deb 15.1.1.1

          Was he? I wasn’t privy to his “relief”. Many Kiwis, left and right, would rather have had a judicial ruling i am convinced. Court action come at considerable personal cost, and it could as well have been Ambrose’s as Keys

          • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.1.1

            The PM was reported as telling prosecutors that he’d like it to go away, and that a letter of regret would do the trick. the letter was written, which expressed regret for the circus but denied that the taping was deliberate, and that the meeting could be construed as private.

            Key told police that that letter was good enough for him, and the police took that as reason not to prosecute.

            Did you really miss all that?

  16. Copra 16

    I keep having this recurring nightmare of a woman with grossly deyed hair going around and crushing things.

  17. Pascal's bookie 17

    Felix Marwick saying that Labour says nothing has been served yet. No official word on anything, other than the press release.

    MPs can’t be served on Parliamentary grounds, question time starts in about 40 mins.

    Andrew Little has one question to the Minister of ACC about when she printed out the Boag Email.

    Gosh.

    • felix 17.1

      What what what?

      I hope you’re not suggesting that Collins and Brownlee are going to try to hide behind court proceedings that don’t even exist. That wouldn’t be kosher would it old boy?

      See also Q1 and Q10. Time to get the popcorn ready. By which I mean beer.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 17.1.1

        Shes refused to answer the questions !

        Thats what its all about now. No more answers – except what they leak

  18. ianmac 18

    I suppose that should the Defamation Case be brought, it would take years to be actioned wouldn’t it? Like such a long time would pass that the relevance would be lost?
    “Who was that Minister? Wonder what that was all about? Colin who?”

    • Anne 18.1

      Yes. I nearly commented on that earlier after one of the tory pixies tried to intimidate us. If a case was brought against those of us on The Standard who have expressed our true feelings about J Collins, we would be dead and buried before it even came to court. :)

  19. Bonn 19

    Collins is a hardwoman. She looks like she eats cement. Like one of those rock eaters in the never ending story.

    • Deb 19.1

      The old “hardwoman” huh – if all reasonable argument escapes one, TG there’s always good old misogyny to fall back on

      • Colonial Viper 19.1.1

        The term hard man often applies so using it equally to women seems fair enough. or would you prefer the term “soft woman” to apply to women?

        Or perhaps you would prefer that Minister Collins not to be referred to as a woman at all?

        • Deb 19.1.1.1

          Your support for this commentator – “eats cement” “rock eater” “hardwoman” is admirable on some level I’m sure, but for my part I see a theme of misogyny in this three sentence post.

  20. Kevin 20

    Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff has been appointed to investigate the leaks which could include the forensic examination of computers and other devices.
    Now that the Privacy Commission is involved the affair has become ramped up to the extent that it may cost heads at the highest level.

    • And Collins is using this to justify not answering questions in Parliament.  Incredible …

    • ghostwhowalksnz 20.2

      The Minister responsible for the Privacy Commissioner ??

      Why, that would be the the Hon Judith Collins.

      Good luck on expecting her to pull the Minister down, especially Collins

  21. Anne 21

    Her stock answer to all questions today has been:

    since this matter is before the Privacy Commissioner, it is not in the public interest for me to answer the question.

    Despite the fact she was talking publicly about it only this morning – and not all of the questions came under the auspices of the privacy section anyway – our supposedly impartial Speaker has aided and abetted her by letting her get away with it.

    • Pascal's bookie 21.1

      And in spite of the fact that she has served papers to have the whole thing discussed in open court.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 21.1.1

        No no . The result is that it goes away, for years, till it gets to court or dropped at the ‘steps of the court’

        Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson says the MPs involved in Ms Collins’ legal bid are Mallard and Little, and they had received papers.

        So far only solicitors letters I presume.

  22. Johnny 22

    Crusher’s defamation action has the potential to cost us ordinary taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. She needs a harder, tougher skin. The Government tells us its time for austerity, then we are subjected to an outrageous charade where a Government Minister threatens to sue opposition members for raising issues of public interest. The taxpayer forked out $270,000 for one of Nick Smith’s defamation cases. This time round we could be funding both sides. Jennings costs were $200,000. With three MPs involved, that could mean $600,000 plus. How many staff salaries, operations or school resources would that be better spent on.

    • Deb 22.1

      Johnny, why do you leave out Clark’s two out of court settlements for her defamatory remarks out of your reckonings – both of which we forked out for.

      Mallard has a history of shooting his mouth off, the consequences of this hallmark being personally and politically devastating in some instances. I think it is about time someone called him on it, and if there are legs to this it should be allowed to proceed.

      • lprent 22.1.1

        Probably because they weren’t relevant?

        The post is about a politician taking a defamation case against someone. It isn’t about a member of the public taking a defamation case against a politician. Quite quite different levels of difficulty.

        Basically Judith Collins has about as much chance in court as a snowball has in hell. But I guess it isn’t going to be her money that she will be wasting. It will be ours.

        • Deb 22.1.1.1

          ” Judith Collins has about as much chance in court as a snowball has in hell. But I guess it isn’t going to be her money that she will be wasting. It will be ours”

          It always is when anyone sues a politician.

          The ultimate abuse is attacking anyone’s integrity and honesty, and such an orchestrated, disdainful and repetitive attack on one’s character would make anyone irate. Personally I hope to hell she takes it to them all the way and that as a consequence we may see MP’s behaviour improve in this area.

          • Pete George 22.1.1.1.1

            Another possibility is that David Shearer will start to exert his leadership and instead of just talking about “no gotcha” principles he will convince his MPs to follow his lead and change their practices.

            Leader of the Opposition is often seen as a powerless thankless position waiting for an opportunity, but regarding MP behaviour and party tactics Shearer is in the best position of anyone to make a real difference – to MP behaviour and to Labour’s electoral chances.

            Now is an ideal time to make a mark on this.

            • Inventory2 22.1.1.1.1.1

              Speaking of David Shearer, where is he? Since getting his head shaved on Monday he seems to have disappeared. He hasn’t been in the House all week, but he was able to appear on The Farming Show on Radio Sport yesterday. I thought he was the Leader of the Opposition…

      • Johnny 22.1.2

        I wasn’t writing an essay on MPs legal costs, though I note Gerry Brownlee asked the taxpayer for $48,000 to defend himself against shoving a senior citizen in 1999. He was refused and lost the case. The rules were changed in 2001 to make it easier for MPs to draw on taxpayer funds and seems to favour opposition MPs who are more likely to make critical remarks. But this brings us back to the question? What is the point of MPs. It’s to provide government and to hold government to account. That is what Mallard is doing. So why is a Government Minister suing him using taxpayer funding. The state is displaying fascist tendences.

        • Pete George 22.1.2.1

          It’s to provide government and to hold government to account.

          Yes.

          That is what Mallard is doing.

          Is it? Possibly.

          Or is it to maliciously try to damage Government? Possibly, in which case a Minister must have some right of response.

          And it’s quite possible Mallard thinks he’s doing what he should, and Collins doesn’t think he should. Hence the action to test that.

          We should wait and see if Mallard (and Little and Radio NZ) respond by 5pm, that may give an indication of what they think their degree of rightness is.

  23. Treetop 23

    Assume that there was no Boag email to Collins, Pullar’s identity would still have come out as the person recieving 6752 privacy breaches.

    Slater has put two and two together and probably Lusk knew something from Boag about the December 1 2011 meeting. The two of them (Slater/Lusk) combining what they knew would have come up with Pullars name. Put the spotlight on Slater and Lusk, both had the info, but until they combined the info there was no confirmation and until the ACC client made the comment of an ACC client getting special attention there would not have been a story. Slater and Lusk definitely have sources out there who feed them titbits.

  24. vto 24

    This drama has now turned into a beltway drama. I don’t think people out here in the weather and the work and the earthquakes and the hills and the dales and the shopping malls and the beaches and in bed have even the faintest idea of this nor any care. Not that it isn’t important. Which reminds me, I should get back to the work and earthquakes and weather and hills and bed myself. I waste so much time reading you lot.

  25. Pascal's bookie 25

    Kevin Hague asked Collins to express confidence in ACC chair, John Judge; she declined the oppurtunity.

    • Ross 25.1

      A reporter hould ask Judge if he has confidence in his Minister. I suspect we all know what he’d like to say in response. :)

  26. Kotahi Tane Huna 26

    Judith Collins: “I take my reputation very seriously.”
    QC: “May I remind the court that the plaintiff is a National Party MP.”
    Judge: “Case dismissed.”

    • yeshe 26.1

      best comment all day, thank you !!! loved it. ( are you really Tom Scott ?)

      • Colonial Viper 26.1.1

        hmmmm identity speculation bad

        • yeshe 26.1.1.1

          sorry .. it was intended as a compliment, not a fishing expedition. for me, it was right up there with
          Tom ‘s brilliance. apologies offered.

  27. Johnny 27

    Crusher’s behaviour in the House today was outrageous as she hid from answering parliamentary questions about the Pullar leak. She claimed that it was not in the public interest to answer because of the PC inquiry. What a load of rubbish. The Speaker supported this behaviour, even after Labour MPs reminded him of the Ingram inquiry. The Police investigated Field from 31 August 2006 to 24 May 2007 when he was charged. Throughout that time the responsible Minister answered all of Lockwood Smith’s detailed questions on the issue in the House. None of this, “it’s not in the public interest and you can’t make me” cry baby carry on. If she can tell Radio Live listeners the details in the morning, she can tell the nation’s Parliament the details in the afternoon.
    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Debates/Debates/7/d/3/48HansD_20070227_00000001-Questions-for-Oral-Answer-Questions-to-Ministers.htm

    • Deb 27.1

      We can see the line she’s pursuing. The normal defence Mallard and Little would probably argue is the “public interest” angle. Collin’s every utterance is designed to display the lack of it due to the PC’s involvement prior to their alleged defamation.

      Let the game begin.

      • Pete George 27.1.1

        Didn’t the Mallard and Little alleged allegations occur after Colins clearly stated she was not responsible?

        I don’t know about legally, but that’s different to just stating an ‘honest opinion’, even if it’s plucked out of the air fishing. It’s stating contrary to a publicly expressed position, so to honestly speak against that they must have some evidence to back it up?

        Mallard and Little appear to have not retracted by the deadline. It’s familiar territory for Mallard, Little may be a bit more apprehensive. Interesting to see him so openly defying Shearer’s “no gotcha” position.

        • lprent 27.1.1.1

          a. It depends what they said.

          b. It depends what Collins said. Her statement was slippery because it was full of interesting qualifiers because she concentrated on how she didn’t leak the e-mail rather than simply stating that she didn’t leak the information. You have to watch for what is not said rather than hearing what you expect to hear.

          c. And yes I suspect that she is likely to be lying because of what she avoided saying. There are more ways of shifting information around than e-mails.

          d. I think that hiding behind a defamation suit that is unlikely to even get in front of a hearing is a hell of a convenient way to avoid answering questions in the house or anywhere else. Since there is no particular reason why she cannot answer questions in the house for a civil case, it just looks like a way to stifle speculation.

          e. And because of that, speculation is going to be rife and loud… Very stupid move.

          f. If I am wrong, I am prepared to make a simple apology – in a few years after the case goes to trial and a judgement is made (and never if it does not)

        • Pascal's bookie 27.1.1.2

          Yes Pete, she denied it a couple of days ago.That doesn’t mean people can’t honestly believe she was being slippery, or even flat out lying.

          She also said that people “can speculate all they like”

          “People can speculate all they like but I’m also aware that it didn’t come from my office and it didn’t come from me – I’m 100% certain.”

          http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/acc-denies-leaking-information-4801207

          • Colonial Viper 27.1.1.2.1

            Only way to be 100% certain is to already know who it did come from.

          • Carol 27.1.1.2.2

            “Yes, I did print out the email, but I never inhaled…. and once it was printed out, it wasn’t an email, so I never shared that woman’s email with anyone…. in the privacy of my office or anywhere else.”

      • Pascal's bookie 27.1.2

        Not sure what you’re getting at here Deb.

        No defence is necessary for anything said in the house. The opposition can ask the minister any question they like relating to the portfolio.

        The minister can refuse to answer on the grounds that to do so is not in the public interest. that’s all that’s happening here.

        Given she has said she’ll sue, (so far it’s only lawyers letters), evrything will come out in the open anyway. this makes her ‘not in the public interest’ line look somewhat disengenuous, but she is still free to do that of course, if she doesn’t want to answer the questions.

        I can’t really see why it isn’t in the public interest to answer the particular questions asked, but that’s by the by.

  28. marsman 28

    Is the Privacy Commissioner the same one who has taken how many years and still has not made public whether Paula Bennett breached privacy rules when she made public private information about beneficiaries? Is that commissioner a NAct appointment? Can ‘Urgency’ be invoked?

  29. toad 29

    Seems that John Key himself may be donkey deep in this.

    Not exactly sure what Close Up have tonight, but definitely worth a watch.

    • Anne 29.1

      toad beat me to it.

      Close Up has explosive new evidence, involving Bronwyn Pullar, John Key and an insurance company

      Oh dear… it’s turning into ultra-turgid syrup!

      • Pascal's bookie 29.1.1

        PMs office has denied any involvement or knowledge by Key of this, to Paddy Gower

        • mickysavage 29.1.1.1

          Gower just tweeted:

          “John Key named as part of support group for Bronwyn Pullar in 2007 insurance claim. PM office says this is wrong; nothing to do with it.”

          This really is a case of getting the pop corn out … 

        • rosy 29.1.1.2

          The words he used about his contact with Pullar are similar to those outlining his contact with the MediaWorks head, aren’t they? – just ran into him at a social function…

  30. Anne 30

    I wanna buy shares in a popcorn-making company.

    • Colonial Viper 30.1

      My guess is staff in the PM’s office will be working late tonight.

      • Frida 30.1.1

        Yep CV lots of lights on in the Beehive when I drove past just now. Loving this!!! Pullargate.

        Also keen to contribute to Little’s and Mallard’s defense fund

  31. Carol 31

    We’re getting an insight into the world of the wealthy and the powerful

    – the Lombard 4 escape jail and show no remorse for misleading investors.

    – National Party people calling of their crony networks to support and $million insurance claim.

    I thought Bryce Edwards misinterpretted one of the Walrus’s questions. He asked about people saying “this doesn’t feel right” – I interpreted that to mean they thought the leaked claims against the Nats seemed contrived. Edwards interpreted it as meaning that people were critical of the Nat ethics, and felt the goings on were out of keeping with mainstream Kiwi ethics.

  32. Anne 32

    I took Edward’s interpretation – and before he answered the Walrus.

  33. randal 33

    this whole government is starting to smell as badly as the last days of the Nixon administration in 1973 before he resigned in disgrace.
    I never thought New Zealand politics would sink this low but there ya go.
    the efforts of slater and his crew that geared up the ‘permanent campaign’ while Labour was in office are now turning into arrogance and sleaze that we ciould do without but it looks like the boil is going to be lanced soon.
    and it wont just be a changing of the guard but a general election and the s.o.b.s’ will get thrown out of office asap.

  34. randal 34

    so…
    where is he tonight?

    • Anne 34.1

      In Queenstown?

    • starlight 34.2

      key will be in queenstown because of the micheal hill golf classic,apparantley the govt
      supports the event and i am sure the tax payers have contributed to the event.
      at least that was in the paper a few days ago.
      At least key and boag can put their heads together on the 19th hole and decide
      how to dig themselves out of this,they may have got rid of the ladder though.
      Hill golf classic march 29th-1st april

      • ianmac 34.2.1

        Will Mr Key be in the House next week for the last 3 days of this session?
        Or will he have urgent business elsewhere? Watch this space!

      • starlight 34.2.2

        PM to tee off,The golf tournament got $500.000 of tax payers money,sthlnd times 26/3

  35. Pascal's bookie 35

    Mallard said he was “absolutely certain” that Collins is serious about taking action, but added: “We’ll see how she feels about that next week.”

    Labour says the ACC minister is using the defamation action and an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner into how the information was leaked as a way to fend off further questioning.

    Radio New Zealand said it is now talking to its lawyers, as are the Labour MPs who say they will pay for lawyers out of their own pocket.

    Collins is refusing to say if the taxpayer will be picking up her bill.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/mallard-little-ignore-collins-deadline-4805838

    Interesting.

    Collins was quite forthright in her press release that it was the insult to her name that was the issue, rather than a slur on ACC or the ministry.

    One would hope that will be reflected in a decision to pay for her own costs.

    • Jim Nald 35.1

      Out of concern for the public interest (thanks, Collins, for making that phrase reverberate), there are a few of us who would make anonymous donations to the parties defending the case. Would someone care to run the donation campaign online? Happy to walk into a bank and make a cash donation if the bank account number is provided.

  36. So tell me lprent; using your own title (You know you’re in trouble when: The bookies open a contract on you), does this mean that The Standard is is trouble?

    https://www.ipredict.co.nz/app.php?do=contract_detail&contract=COLLINS.STANDARD

    Just askin’ ;-)

    • Pascal's bookie 36.1

      Christ, If I found out that I’d been beaten to the punch on a joke by Pete George, I think I’d pretty much call it a day. ;)

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