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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    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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