Settlement in Defence Force defamation case

Settlement in Defence Force defamation case

The Defence Force and investigative journalist Jon Stephenson have ended a three year defamation battle after a settlement was reached.  

In a statement released today, the Auckland-based journalist said he concluded the legal action relating to a statement issued by Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones when he was chief of the Defence Force.

The statement was made in response to an article Stephenson wrote for Metro in April 2011 about the activities of the New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan.

In the statement it was suggested Stephenson had not spoken to the commander of the Afghan Ministry of Interior Response Unit, as was reported in his article.

Stephenson filed defamation proceedings in 2012 and the case went to trial, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

In a statement, Stephenson said: "Following several preliminary hearings, including the taking of evidence at a closed hearing in December last year, General Jones and the NZDF formally conceded that I had in fact entered the CRU base and interviewed the commander."

He told 3 News today he couldn't disclose the sum of the settlement payment, but said he was very happy with the outcome.

Stephenson originally sought around $500,000 in damages.

The NZDF says it has no comment to make on the settlement.

3 News