Winston Peters ramps up legal action against National MPs

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is seeking damages against the National MPs he alleges were involved in leaking his superannuation details, Newshub understands.

In a statement released this afternoon, Mr Peters says he is dropping legal action against two journalists.

But he said he would move to the second phase of his case against six senior figures from the National Party.

In the lead up to the election, it emerged that Mr Peters' superannuation had been overpaid for several years, but he had paid the money back.

Mr Peters took umbrage with the way the information was made public, saying his privacy had been breached and, in November, he issued a legal document, saying he wanted to "identify and sue" the people responsible.

That required four senior National MPs - Bill English, Steven Joyce, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley - as well as former chief of staff Wayne Eagleson and former campaign staffer Clark Hennessy, to hand over any information they had about the leak.

"They have unwittingly provided, on oath, information beyond what I was entitled to receive from the documents, which also provides enough information to formulate proceedings against those involved in the privacy breach," Mr Peters said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

All those named as defendants by Mr Peters deny any involvement in the leaking of his details.

His legal team will now move to the "second phase" of the legal action against the remaining six defendants.

A source has told Newshub that moving to the second phase is code for lodging damages in the High Court against those from the National Party that Mr Peters believes breached his privacy.

MSD head Brendan Boyle was named in Peters' initial claim, but Friday's statement did not mention him.

Two journalists were also initially named as defendants in the case -  Newshub's Lloyd Burr and Newsroom's Tim Murphy. Both were involved in filing some of the first stories about the leak.

Mr Peters now says he has "amicably resolved" his issues with the journalists.

The Deputy Prime Minister began his statement with the following paragraph:

"In a free society, there are no more fundamental elements than an individual's freedom of speech,their right to privacy and for the Fourth Estate to operate freely. However, those freedoms are not unfettered. They come with responsibilities. One cannot needlessly yell 'fire' in a crowded picture theatre, breach another's privacy or be at liberty to print untruths. When one or all of these pillars crumble, and as was said a long time ago, it behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist the invasion of it by others."


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