Horan served papers in defamation case

Last updated 13:31 24/07/2014
ROSS GIBLIN/Stuff.co.nz

Former NZ First MP Brendan Horan is served a writ at the Backbencher Pub.

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Independent MP Brendan Horan has been served papers in a defamation case he claims is politically motivated.

Convicted tax avoider Colin Henderson, a former friend of Horan, has filed a case in the Auckland High Court seeking $350,000 from the MP and damages from media company Mediaworks over comments made by Horan on Radio Live.

Today Horan walked to the Backbencher pub, across the road from Parliament, in an arranged meeting to receive the papers, because service agents, who physically hand over the papers, are not allowed to enter Parliament to do so.

When Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little were being sued for defamation by Justice Minister Judith Collins the pair took steps to avoid being served papers, with Mallard vowing to drive an unmarked car to make him harder to track down.

That case was eventually settled with Mallard and Little expressing "regret" over comments they made on Radio New Zealand.

Horan said he volunteered to go to the Backbencher because he was not afraid of the case.

"I'm not scared of a few little papers - it's ludicrous," he said, adding that "this is the age of openness and transparency".

The law clerk who served Horan the papers declined to make any comment, but he was identified by Horan's office as Michael Moughan, of public law firm Franks Ogilvie.

Horan said he could not make a full comment about the case until he had read the papers, but he did not expect it to go far.

"It's just a political distracter as far as I'm concerned, but it's not going to distract me," he said.

"It's not going to distract any of our team.

"I'll have to read the papers first, [but] I'll be very surprised if it went to court. I imagine that it will peter out."

Lawyer Brian Henry, who has also represented New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, has confirmed he had filed the suit on Henderson's behalf over the comments.

Peters meanwhile has dismissed claims that he is involved in the case as "bulldust" saying he had no involvement and had not referred Henderson to Henry.

Henderson, a former clothing importer, and his failed company, House of Pagani (NZ), were fined $800,000 plus legal costs of $41,400 on 120 charges involving smuggled clothing from Asia in 1997.

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