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Govt Conceeds to Keep $600,000-plus Deal Secret

Government concedes battle to keep $600,000-plus deal secret

The Government has conceded a battle to keep a $600,000-plus deal secret, a North Canterbury farmer said today.

The Government has paid out $600,000 to Mt Oxford farmer Mark Feary in return for dropping three proceedings in relation to their 1780ha Mt Oxford property.

Mr Feary said he had previously been threatened with `breach of deed’’ if he had told anyone about the settlement.

The Oxford property has gone back into Government control.

The Government must also compensate Mr Feary by returning Mt Oxford to him freehold and must find ``an effective farming area of not less than 850ha’’ or the equivalent in value.

Mr Feary’s counsel Willie Palmer of Buddle Findlay said the high country land deal case had been complex.

``This has been a long and difficult journey for a New Zealand farming couple and hopefully full and final settlement is in sight.’’

Mr Feary said that the settlement will be of significant interest to other high country farmers

Copyright Word of Mouth Media NZ 2003

“Mt Oxford”

22 September 2003

Commissioner of Crown Lands
C/- Land Information New Zealand
PO Box 5501

Attention: David Gullen

Dear Mr Gullen

Re: “Mt Oxford”

On 17 April 2002 you reached a comprehensive settlement with Karen and I of all issues, including three separate High Court proceedings. You did so expressly requiring that the terms of our settlement were not confidential. A month after that you did a 180º turn and insisted upon the Deed of Settlement being confidential.

Understandably we did not agree. On 23 July 2002 you threatened us with breach of the settlement if we publicised the Deed. The clear implication of this was that you would cancel the settlement unless we bowed to your wishes.

We were forced to take High Court proceedings to resolve this dispute over confidentiality. A few weeks before the hearing, and without warning, you did a further 180º turn and told us we could disclose the terms of settlement as we saw fit.

However, with remarkable flexibility of analysis, at the hearing you still maintained the legal argument that the Deed of Settlement was confidential (another 180º turn). As if those logical contortions were not enough your last positional change, taking us right back to our agreement in April 2002, occurred on 4 September 2003.

Your Mr Jackson was reported as saying that “talks…during mediation were confidential, but the Deed of Settlement was not confidential” (see “The Press” 4 September 2003). Since “The Press” report, Karen and I have been contacted by many media organisations wanting further information.

In discussions with journalists many of the same questions have been repeated. We have not been able to answer questions relating to actions taken by or on behalf of you. However, we want answers to those questions. This is not merely to satisfy media questioning, rather, after all the grief that we have endured over the past 16 months, we believe we are entitled to a clear and candid explanation from you.

The questions requiring an answer are: In the context of Mr Jackson’s latest (and hopefully final) statement that the Deed of Settlement was not confidential, how do you reconcile your position over the previous 16 months (that the Deed of Settlement was confidential) with your personal statement to us on 17 April 2002 that the Deed of Settlement was not and could not be confidential?

Why for so long (20 May 2002 to 13 June 2003) did you insist upon our adherence to a position regarding confidentiality of the Deed of Settlement that you never agreed to at the outset and which you now accept is wrong, including threatening us with breach of the Deed? Why were Karen and I forced to endure the resulting trouble, expense and uncertainty of your ever changing position? In the context of your previous changes of position, we also require an assurance from you that you will now use your best endeavours to honour the Deed as soon as possible.

Please respond within 7 days.

Yours faithfully

Mark Feary

© Scoop Media

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