Lani Hagaman will continue to pursue Little in court for defamation

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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