Lynne Snowdon claim costs may top $1.5m

Last updated 14:43 02/04/2014

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Radio New Zealand expects its costs for defending itself against Lynne Snowdon's employment claim may top $1.5 million.

The public broadcaster won the case yesterday that Snowdon, its former news managing editor, had taken against it after disputes arose in late 2002.

Even before the 47-day hearing of her claim began last September, a document filed for Snowdon said that the proceedings had cost her more than $3.5m.

Today RNZ said its costs were still being calculated but it estimated they may exceed $1.5m.

The Employment Court has said RNZ is entitled to costs from Snowdon. If the parties can't agree, the court will set the figure.

An RNZ spokesman said today it had always been open to settle Snowdon's claim on "reasonable terms".

One of its offers was referred to in the Employment Court decision Judge Tony Ford issued yesterday.

In August 2003, RNZ's lawyers offered an undisclosed sum plus some entitlements. The offer was conditional on Snowdon withdrawing allegations she had made that there had been gross negligence and mismanagement in budgeting and accounting at RNZ.

Not only was the offer rejected but Snowdon accused RNZ of attempting to obstruct or prevent an investigation into her allegations.

Snowdon's lawyers said she was a whistleblower who had alleged fraud in protected disclosures to RNZ's board, the auditor-general, the prime minister, the commerce select committee and others.

When she complained to police that there had been an attempt to pervert the course of justice, police responded that it was common in settlement agreements to include clauses like the one asking her to withdraw her allegations. It took no further action.

No enforcement action was taken by any of the Crown agencies that received fraud complaints from Snowdon or that were made on her behalf.

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- Fairfax Media

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