Collins settles defamation case with Labour MPs

ROB KIDD, DANYA LEVY AND KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 16:38 14/11/2012

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

The trio, armed with lawyers, attended a settlement hearing in the High Court at Auckland for the action launched by Collins in May.

She claims the two opposition MPs defamed her with 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 and refused 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 that 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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