Lani Hagaman will continue to pursue Little in court for defamation

Lani Hagaman

Lani Hagaman has revealed she will continue to pursue a defamation claim against Labour leader Andrew Little on behalf on her husband Earl.

Ms Hagaman says after she considered the outcome of the High Court case on Monday and sought legal advice, she decided to “bring his [Earl Hagaman’s] claims to completion.”

On Monday, Justice Karen Clark ruled against hotelier Lani Hagaman's claim of defamation by Labour leader Andrew Little but has held the decision on allegations of defamation against Earl Hagaman for further legal argument.

A 12-person jury had found Mr Little defamed Mr Hagaman on one occasion and not on others but hung on whether he was protected by privilege.

As it could not agree, the jury did not consider whether damages should be paid but there could be a new trial for the undecided counts or the judge may make a ruling.

“Because the jury was unable to reach verdicts on several of Earl’s claims, I am advised that the court now arranges automatically for those claims to be retired,” she says in a statement.

“The jury also reached a verdict that Earl was defamed by Andrew Little. However, contrary to the finding of the court on qualified privilege, my legal advice continues to be that Mr Little was not entitled to protection by that.”

As this matter remains unresolved, she says she believes it requires clarification.

“While Earl is still alive, I believe that it is important that every effort is made to bring his claims to completion, and I intend to do so.”

Yesterday, Mr Little told reporters in Parliament he did not think the outcome of the trial meant the issue was finished.

Asked if he sees the saga as being over now, he said no as the jury was unable to reach a decision on four of the defamation claims lodged against him.

“That entitles the Hagamans to seek a retrial if they wish and that matter is entirely in their hands.”

In a statement last night, Mr Little said he has seen Ms Hagaman’s statement seeking a retrial but, as the matter could be subject to further court proceedings, will not be making further comment except to say:

“I have taken every opportunity to resolve this matter and I have faced up to my responsibilities.”


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Between Hagaman v Little, Williams v Craig and Craig v Slater, there is surely a good case for abolishing defamation jury trials, and ideally defamation altogether. Keep the Court system for things that matter, not petty disputes over whether someone's reputation was tarnished.

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An out of court settlement including an apology is surely the better way to handle this. Anything more is gratuitous, and an abuse of the legal system.

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Absolutely agree !

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Googling Earl Hagaman makes for interesting reading

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Googling Andrew Little makes for boring reading!

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In Texas holdem, if you didn't get the flush when the last card was flipped, best that you fold rather than go all-in.
[Edited]

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No time for campaigning now for Little. Probably better than a donation.

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This is doing a nice job of distracting Labour leadership in a year in which National has been more and more evidently asleep at the wheel when it comes to housing, healthcare, education and the like.

Great having such supporters of your party.

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Good on you Lani. A delight to see that reputation means everything to at least some people in business today, in this country. Best of luck in your endeavourment.

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Perhaps NBR could get Andrew to put together an article on living with negative equity.

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