Collins' ACC defamation case settled

ROB KIDD
Last updated 17:02 14/11/2012
Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little
GRAHAME COX/ Fairfax NZ

MALLARD AND LITTLE: At the high court.

Judith Collins
GRAHAME COX/ Fairfax NZ
JUDITH COLLINS: Arriving at court for the settlement hearing today.

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After a day of legal wrangling, ACC minister Judith Collins has settled her defamation case with two Labour MPs, who say they regret their words.

The minister and Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, armed with lawyers, attended a settlement hearing at the High Court in Auckland for action launched by Collins in May.

She claims the two Opposition MPs defamed her over comments she says linked her to the leaking of an email from former National Party president Michelle Boag over a massive ACC privacy breach.

After nearly six hours in closed court, the politicians emerged and handed media a written statement, refusing to comment further. 

They agreed the leaked email raised "an issue of serious public concern" and Little and Mallard were entitled to question who was responsible.

However, it appears there was a concession their questioning went too far.

"The parties continue to differ over whether the remarks made by Messrs Mallard and Little respectively on Radio New Zealand implied the minister falsely assured the House that neither she nor her office was responsible for the leak," the statement said.

"Messrs Mallard and Little have confirmed to Ms Collins that was not their intention and wish to make that clear publicly and in the event such meaning was taken, they regret it."

Mallard and Little initially laughed off the action, labelling it "vexatious, politically motivated and lacking principle" and had previously said they would not apologise if they did not believe they had defamed her.

Outside court this morning Collins emphasised she was only looking for the Labour MPs to say sorry and was keen to avoid the matter going to trial.

"I've always made it very plain that I've been defamed so that needs to be acknowledged," she said.

"I've asked for an apology . . . I haven't asked for any money."

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