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Board Member Achieves Apology in High Court Action

Board Member Achieves Apology in High Court Action

A board member of Richmond Fellowship New Zealand has received letters of retraction and apology from Richmond’s former human resources manager, Paul Bradley, following a recommendation of the High Court that Mr Bradley publish corrections in a claim for defamation and injurious falsehood.

Richmond Fellowship board member John Blackaby took legal action in response to letters Mr Bradley mailed to Mr Blackaby’s employer, the Chief Electoral Officer, in September 2002. In the letters to the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Bradley made a number of specific claims that included Mr Blackaby – in his position as a trustee of Richmond Fellowship - was unethical, unprincipled, disloyal if not dishonest and corrupt as well.

On February 11 the High Court made a recommendation that Mr Bradley publish corrections in the form of letters of retraction and apology to Mr Blackaby, to the Chief Electoral Officers, and to the Hon Tim Barnett MP, in line with the terms of Mr Blackaby’s settlement requirements. These letters constitute a published correction under the provisions of Section 26 (1) of the Defamation Act 1992.

In his letters of apology, Mr Bradley acknowledges that the statements and allegations made to the Chief Electoral Officer, and which he said he would also refer to Hon Tim Barnett MP, were made without evidence they had substance or foundation. Mr Bradley unreservedly retracted all such statements and allegations.

As a result of the claim, the High Court has also made a substantial aware of legal costs against Mr Bradley, who represented himself throughout the court action.

Following the release of the Court’s decision, Richmond Fellowship chief executive Dr Gerry Walmisley said the personal accusations made against Mr Blackaby were intended to reflect badly on his position as a trustee of Richmond Fellowship.

“We are satisfied that this matter has been heard in an appropriate forum and pleased that the Court recommended Mr Bradley publish appropriate corrections.” Dr Walmisley went on to say that Richmond Fellowship unreservedly expresses its confidence in John Blackaby, who the Board regards as a capable, loyal and honest board member.

Richmond Fellowship is a major provider of community health and support services throughout New Zealand. The Fellowship has developed specialist services for a range of purchasers including the Ministry of Health, Crown Public Health and Community Health Boards. Services include support programmes for people with mental, psychiatric or psychological illness, respite and emergency support, consumer based drop-in services, specialist youth services and dual diagnosis services (including intellectual disability/mental illness).

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