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Nick Smith Attempts To Silence Conservationist

MEDIA RELEASE - 1 November 2004
Bruce Stuart-Menteath


The Nelson MP, Nick Smith, has applied for an interim injunction to prevent Christchurch conservationist, and chairman of North Canterbury Forest and Bird, Bruce Stuart-Menteath, from publicising matters concerning a recent defamation settlement. Smith claims that Stuart-Menteath has breached the terms of the settlement, an allegation he strongly denies.

"My comments have merely publicised the fact that I had been trying for 3 years to get an apology from Smith for making patently false and offensive allegations about me and my 1998 Environment Court appeal, concerning a new hotel at Punakaiki, during his fronting of the National Party's 'Fixing the RMA campaign, and that the settlement was an exoneration of my conduct'."

Smith's allegations included that Stuart-Menteath's appeal was vexatious and an abuse of process; that he had a "pathological" dislike of tourists (Stuart-Menteath was an eco tour operator who had won national and international awards); that he was a "dope smoking unemployed local" and that he had delayed the project by three years; cost the developer $1 million; and denied 20 people their jobs.

Despite there being ample evidence that Smith's allegations were not only false, but that he knew that they were false, he has refused to retract or apologise, and since the settlement has continued to make public statements that he stands by them.

Stuart-Menteath has dedicated a chapter of his recent book, A Hostile Environment - A Case Study of the Harassment of Conservationists on the West Coast of NZ, to Smith's outrageous conduct as an example of how politicians can promote community discord while they further their political ambitions.

The application for interim injunction will be heard in Christchurch District Court (Court 4) tomorrow [Nov. 2] at 10 am.

"This is a very disturbing development. Do we have a democracy in New Zealand whereby politicians can be held accountable for telling untruths in order to achieve their ideological gains, or must we bend to the 'Nick Smith's' of the day as they abuse and threaten members of the public for daring to expose their shortcomings?"


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