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Crosby – Posturing with little substance

Written By: - Date published: 3:20 pm, June 9th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: crosby textor, john key, national - Tags:

Spinner

Spinner

Lynton Crosby of the political spinners Crosby/Textor, who ‘advised’ both John Key and Don Brash, has finally given up on trying to pursue a unwinnable defamation case against Nicky Hager and Radio NZ.The case appears to me to have been started largely as intimidation by the Crosby (and maybe the National party) to find out who was feeding Nicky Hager information from inside the National party.

Nicky Hager has a long but very interesting post in ‘Crosby v Hager’: defamation proceedings used as a political weapon

The case arose following a feature article I wrote last year, revealing something that the National Party leader John Key had been keen to keep secret. When Key became leader at the end of 2006, following the publication of my book The Hollow Men and the resignation of former leader Don Brash, he pointedly told reporters that he would not be using the same political advisers as Brash. He went further in another interview and said that he didn’t get advice on things like media because he preferred to rely on his own instincts.

It was therefore embarrassing when I found out that, after just one week as leader, Key had visited Australia and sought a meeting with Brash’s most controversial advisers, the Australian political strategists and pollsters Crosby/Textor. He signed them up to work for him, not just on the coming election campaign, but immediately as his personal advisors on image, presentation and tactics. Key’s ‘natural’ image, which had been complimented in the media, was actually being managed by the same wily and cynical Australian spin doctors Brash had used. The article outlined the company’s controversial reputation and described the partners Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor’s tactics in Australia, Britain and New Zealand.

When the story appeared on 29 June 2008, National was furious. Key refused to confirm publicly that he was using the company while behind the scenes his media staff attacked me for doing the story. The day after the article was published I was invited onto Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme and basically repeated what I had written in the newspaper. For unclear reasons, I was sued over this interview (not the article) and the lawsuit came from Crosby/Textor co-director Lynton Crosby (not the other co-director, Mark Textor, who has mostly acted as the advisor for National).

This case dragged on for 11 months with legal trivialities about the layout of legal documents. It got to the point that Crosby would have had to have disclosed information about Crosby and Crosby/Textor’s practices and clients.

Early on my lawyer and I assumed that Crosby would pull out of the process before it reached the ‘discovery’ stage, when legally we could demand to get copies of internal Crosby Textor documents that might provide further evidence of the sorts of manipulative tactics I had discussed in the interview. This is what happened. In the last few weeks they have negotiated their way out of the case.

In other words, when Crosby would have had to have made a case and do it on evidence rather than empty legal posturing. Nicky Hager and his lawyer could have had a field-day with information that Crosby would have had to provide.

So Crosby took the couple of minor brownie points that Nicky conceded long ago about some trivial mistakes.

A correction and apology was made to Mr Crosby in this week’s settlement that the words ‘Mark Crosby’ were not referring to ‘Lynton Crosby’.

Towards the end of the interview Mr Hager talked about personal attacks on the Labour Party leader, Helen Clark, being an example of dirty tactics in politics. He didn’t say Crosby was behind these attacks — which Crosby claimed in the defamation case — so he offered early in the case to clarify this as well.

The first was mixing up the names of Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor in a live interview, when referring to Mark Textor’s role in some notorious push-polling in a aussie election.

There is no evidence that the systematic and deliberate personal attacks on Helen Clark were being pushed by Nationals advisors. However the spread of those viral messages through the comments sections of political blogs and in some fundamentalist communities was certainly increased about the time that Crosby/Textor started advising Nationals leaders. It could have just been an unfortunate coincidence in timing.

After 11 months of what can only be described as irrelevant legal posturing, Crosby dropped the suit. Not that he would have won anyway if it’d gone to court. It does not appear that there was a winnable case.

The likely reason for bringing the suit originally was more interesting. When you got through all of the turgid and florid legal posturing from Crosby’s lawyer Ric Lucas, you get to the point of why the proceedings started. It had nothing to do with Crosby’s reputation.

The letter then made a curious demand: ‘Mr Crosby requires you to disclose your sources immediately.’ The National Party and Crosby/Textor of course wanted to know who had leaked me their inside information that had appeared in my book and then in the article on Key’s use of Crosby/Textor. But this was hardly essential to allegations of defamation (there are special rules in defamation to protect sources) and added to my feeling that the legal action was motivated by more than seeking redress for the supposed defamation in the Radio New Zealand interview.

As Nicky Hager says, this is seems to be using defamation as a political weapon of intimidation. The question is probably less about Crosbys ‘reputation’ and more about how much John Key or the National party were involved in initiating and continuing this vexacious suit? The case appears to me as having been started so that John Key and National could find the leaks inside their party that Nicky Hager has been accessing. If so, then this means that National are getting really concerned about their leaking ship.

11 comments on “Crosby – Posturing with little substance ”

  1. Maynard J 1

    Right, it is time to attack Hager. By the Right, quick…March!

  2. GC Martin 2

    Anyone else see potential conflicts of interest in the Hager websited material..?

    Both during the so-called process and by extension offset to it..?

  3. large fat man 3

    Lynton crosby is great in the sack

  4. toad 4

    large fat man said: Lynton crosby is great in the sack

    Hey, LFM, are you actually Whaleoil under a different name? Somebody at The Standard needs to check the IP address for that post.

    [lprent: no-one we know]

  5. vto 5

    If that is Spinner then who is Clutch Cargo and Paddlefoot? Lockwood and

  6. Macro 6

    But the most important part of Nicky Hager’s Article is the fact that Crosby/Textor were using the legal process of a Defamation claim to attack a critic – quite unjustly as Hager quite clearly shows – in order to silence him. And further with the obvious intent of winning by legal/monetary exhaustion. Fortunately he had the assistance of a lawyer pro bono otherwise the result might have been completely different!
    There is a need to change the law here so that these sorts of spurious claims are not used in the manner that Crosby/Textor have.
    Unfortunately a law change to stop Crosby/Textor or other well heeled bullies doing this sort of again is unlikely with the incumbant head law maker making use of their “services”.

  7. Tom Semmens 7

    Actually Macro the easiest answer to the increasing use of the law as a weapon would be:

    a) Put a statute of limitations on court action. If your case doesn’t come to court within something like, say, twelve months then it is simply dismissed. Give meaning to “justice delayed is justice denied.” It would only take one murderer or high profile white collar shyster to walk free because of delays and you’d see proper resourcing of the court system!

    b) Reform the justice system with the aim of reducing the stranglehold the elite, “expert” legal priethood has on the whole process. Why not simply empanel “grand juries” drawn from the local community in the local school hall every Saturday and Sunday and get them (with guidance by an official) to rule on all sorts of minor misdemeanours like graffiti, minor vandalism, noise complaints, minor shop lifting etc etc etc. It would massively free up the courts and actually return the system to something much closer to its roots than what we currently have.

    c) Go back to a Swiftean view of libel law, and basically repeal all libel laws. Allow anyone to say whatever they want about anyboby. Wanna call politician X a kiddy fiddling facist in the pay of the Illuminati? Go for the doctor. Rely on the common sense of the voters & citizens to work out if you have any actual evidence of this or not. Lets face it – most of the KBR commentariat behave as if they live in a libel free zone anyway. I was reading a political debate in the USA from the 1860’s the other day where one candidate called the other a “corrupt Irish son-of-a-bitch” who no one should vote for. And they managed to elect Lincoln.

  8. Nick 8

    Sounds like a good scheme if you are a lawyer, kerrrrrching!!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps Shonkey can advise us to the existance of God in this case so that we may be assured that Lynton Crosby and associates can look forward to an extremely hot eternity.

  9. John E. 9

    Is it the continued advice from Crosby Textor that is leading to such poor government as we are experiencing?

    Did they advise Key to hang Lee out to dry?

    Did they advise Key to drag Worth throught the mud?

    Is there advice what it used to be, when they had a more amenable client like Don Brash – who crashed and burned in any case.

    Congrats to Nicky,.

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