Little tells Collins to send in the 'thugs'

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 09:56 17/05/2012
Labour MP Andrew Little.
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
LAWYERED UP: Labour MP Andrew Little.
collins
JUDITH COLLINS: Not happy with either Andrew Little or Trevor Mallard.

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Labour MP Andrew Little says ACC Minister Judith Collins will have to hire ''thuggish characters'' to serve defamation proceedings against him and fellow Labour MP Trevor Mallard after the pair refused to cooperate with demands from her lawyer.

Little said he and Mallard received letters from Collins' lawyer late yesterday after she filed proceedings in the High Court at Auckland.

The minister said in March she would sue the two Labour MPs and Radio New Zealand (RNZ) over comments they made on air linking her to the leaking of a letter from former National Party president Michelle Boag about a privacy breach by ACC revealed by Fairfax Media.

However, Collins appears to have backed down from her threat against RNZ.

Its head of news, Don Rood, this morning said the state broadcaster hadn't received any paper work ''at this stage''.

Little said if Collins wanted to pursue the matter she would have to arrange a ''process server'' to track down the MPs and physically hand them papers.

''The letter is somewhat threatening. It says having to serve you can be inconvenient because these guys tend to be pretty thuggish kind of characters.''

The MPs had smart phones and could record video of such action.

''If she wants to have a thuggish character acting on her behalf confronting me and have that available to all and sundry, that doesn't reflect well on her.''

Papers cannot be served on MPs in Parliament so they would have to be tracked down outside of their workplace.

The MPs have now rejected demands from Collins, including that they apologise for their comments, in three letters from her lawyer.

Little said they wouldn't cooperate because her case was ''so flimsy''.

''There's no point of great principle here. This is a political exercise on her behalf.''

Collins wouldn't want the matter to go to trial, he said.

''I'm absolutely certain of that. A minister of the Crown standing in the witness box having to give evidence about her reputation and have things that may be contrary to her view of her own reputation, is not a savory experience for her.

''She'll have all the things she has done in her political career that are contradictory to her claim that she is above and beyond reproach.''

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Little said people had come forward to him unsolicited about her conduct as a lawyer in Auckland.

''Whether that sort of stuff gets put into a defamation court case, who knows, but she won't want to go to trial and be under the spotlight.

''A defamation proceedings is about her reputation and about what Trevor and I have said, not about our reputation. She has more to lose than any of us if she goes to trial.''

Collins had dug herself a ''huge hole'', he said.

''She won't stop digging. Her big problem is she announced in a press release back at the end of March that she was issuing proceedings against Trevor and me.

''It's become apparent she took legal advice after she made that statement and she hasn't found a way out of making that promise to herself so she had to file court proceedings.''

A spokeswoman for Judith Collins said the minister would not be commenting on the matter.

- Stuff

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