Hagamans will keep fighting Labour leader Andrew Little in court

Labour leader Andrew Little took the witness stand in a defamation case brought against him by the Hagamans last week.
Kevin Stent

Labour leader Andrew Little took the witness stand in a defamation case brought against him by the Hagamans last week.

Labour leader Andrew Little could be heading back to court after Lani Hagaman said she believes every effort should be made to bring her husband's claims of defamation to completion.

Little was cleared on Monday of defaming Lani Hagaman. The jury, in the Wellington High Court, ruled that Little had made comments defamatory of Earl Hagaman in one case, but could not reach a decision on whether he was covered by qualified privilege.

In a statement on Wednesday Lani Hagaman said because the jury was unable to reach verdicts on several of Earl's claims, she had been advised the court now automatically retries those claims.

"The jury also reached a verdict that Earl was defamed by Andrew Little.  However, contrary to the finding of the court on qualified privilege, my legal advice continues to be that Mr Little was not entitled to protection by that. 

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"As this matter remains unresolved, I believe it requires clarification," she said.

"While Earl is still alive I believe that it is important that every effort is made to bring his claims to completion, and I intend to do so."

Earl Hagaman is 91, and was not expected to have long to live. 

Little said in a statement that he noted the Hagaman's intentions to go back to court but would not comment further.

The Hagamans were seeking $2.3 million in damages for comments Little made about a $101,000 donation they made to the National Party during the 2014 election, and a contract their Scenic Hotel Group won a month later to manage the Matavai resort in Niue, which receives government funding.

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The verdict came after the jury indicated it could not reach a unanimous verdict, and was instructed to reach a majority decision if possible.

 

 - Stuff

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