Andrew Little defamation case: Jury to resume deliberations

  • 10/04/2017
Andrew Little (Newshub.)
Andrew Little (Newshub.)

A jury is due to resume deliberating in the trial of Labour leader Andrew Little for alleged defamation.

Scenic Hotels owners Earl and Lani Hagaman are seeking up to $2.3 million from Mr Little over his claims linking a $100,000 donation made by Mr Hagaman to the National Party and the awarding of a government-led contract to his company a month later.

After four-and-a-half days of evidence and summaries, the jury retired on Friday morning to consider their decision.

They came back to the court with two questions, and deliberations will continue on Monday.

The Hagamans say Mr Little did defame them and want vindication. Ms Hagaman wants her husband's reputation cleared and restored before his death.

The 91-year-old is, as their lawyer Richard Fowler QC described it, in the "departure lounge" of life, his family having been told he has just weeks to live.

The defence argument is that Mr Little's comments were never directed at the Hagamans, but at the Government.

For Mr Little personally, his anxiety will be around money if the jury decides he did in fact defame the Hagamans.

While both parties are equal before the law, they are not equal in finances.

Rich-listers, the Hagamans are reportedly worth $180 million while Mr Little revealed he had to mortgage his family home in order to make a $100,000 settlement offer.

An award of $2.3 million would likely lead him to bankruptcy.

Mr Fowler said that must not be a consideration the jury lingers on for long, but Mr Tizard said the jury should be fair.

Defamation cases are rare in New Zealand and Justice Karen Clark told jurors that each is decided on the individual facts and no two can be compared.

NZN