Judge refuses Mallard, Little defamation stay

Justice Geoff Venning has refused Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little's bid to stay defamation action by ACC minister Judith Collins.

UPDATE / 10.20am: Justice Geoff Venning has refused Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little's bid to stay defamation action by ACC minister Judith Collins.

The MPs wanted proceedings brought by Ms Collins stayed until the outcome of the Privacy Commissioner's inquiry into a leaked email sent by Michelle Boag to Miss Collins was known.

Release of the commissioner's report has been extended to the end of August.

Justice Venning said any findings of the Privacy Commissioner would not be binding in court and would not necessarily be determinative of the issues raised by Miss Collins.

A date for a judge-alone trial has been set for February 25. The trial is expected to take three-to-five days.

Both parties will attend a settlement conference ahead of the trial on November 12.

Miss Collins does not seek damages but wants a judicial declaration Messrs Mallard and Little defamed her.

 


10am: ACC minister Judith Collins' defamation action against two Labour Party MPs took its first steps behind closed doors at Auckland High Court this morning.

Ms Collins wants the High Court to declare she was defamed by the Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, and to order them to pay her legal costs.

Lawyers for both parties met to discuss timetabling matters for the trial in a chambers conference before Justice Geoff Venning this morning.

Media have been allowed to remain in the court but cannot report the discussion between lawyers and the judge.

The defamation action continues the bluster from the scandal surrounding ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar.

Ms  Collins has accused the two MPs of defaming her in comments about the leaking of an email, written by former National Party president and Ms Pullar's confidante Michelle Boag, which led to Ms Pullar's identity being revealed by a Sunday newspaper.

Ms Collins denied that she or her office was responsible for the leak.

Messrs Mallard and Little continued debate about Ms Collins' alleged involvement in the privacy breach within her ministry on Radio NZ in March, when Ms Collins alleges defamatory comments about her were made.

She filed defamation proceedings against the two MPs when they refused to apologise.

Ms Collins is paying for the legal action herself. She is represented by Queen's counsel Julian Miles.

Messrs Mallard and Little are represented by John Tizard.

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