MPs laugh off Collins' lawsuit

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:33 18/05/2012
Labour MP Trevor Mallard.
STIRRING COLLINS: Labour MP Trevor Mallard has been typically bullish.
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's MP Trevor Mallard says he'll be driving an unmarked car to avoid having papers served on him, as he and fellow MP Andrew Little laugh off defamation proceedings against them by ACC Minister Judith Collins.

Law firm Morrison Kent has written to the pair saying papers have been filed at the High Court at Auckland and proceedings would be served on them if they didn't cooperate.

The letter warns ''service agents can end up effecting service at inconvenient times and it is our wish to offer you the opportunity of avoiding such inconvenience''.

The MPs said they wouldn't cooperate because the proceeding were vexatious, politically motivated and lacked principle.

They are inviting Collins to employ ''thuggish characters'' to serve proceedings on them.

Filing proceedings is the third step the minister has taken, after sending two earlier letters asking them to apologise for their comments on Radio New Zealand in March.

Collins claims the MPs linked her to the leaking of a letter from former National Party president Michelle Boag about a privacy breach by ACC.

However, she appears to have backed down from her threat of also taking defamation action against the state broadcaster whose head of news says has not received any paper work.

Mallard said he was less concerned about thugs than Little would be because he was ''broader and didn't wear glasses''.

In a letter back to Collins' lawyer, Phil Ahern, Little said he would not cooperate with the ''charade'' because the case was ''flimsy''.

''It is my intention to cause her the utmost inconvenience and embarrassment in her prosecution of this matter.''
Papers cannot be served on MPs in Parliament so they would have to be tracked down outside of their workplace.

Mallard said he had worked out there were at least nine entrances to Parliament and the servers could wait for him.
''I'm not proposing to sleep in the buildings.''

But neither would he be using his marked electorate van.

Little has written his own version of the proceedings and attached it to bottles of wine to fundraise for the Labour Party.

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The notice, written on the back of an ACC request for assistance, says the plaintiff is ''just generally full of hot air of a self-righteous, self absorbed and probably carbon-intensive kind''.

Mallard said he hadn't defamed Collins and he had a good understanding of defamation law.

He has faced several legal threats but has only been sued for defamation once, by former NZ First MP Tuku Morgan.

That case had been ''frozen'' in the High Court since about 1998.

The MPs said they don't believe Collins would see the case through because she would be forced to defend her character.

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

Prime Minister John Key said the Labour MPs ''could run but can't hide''.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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