Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Former Kiwi diplomat who sued Ian Wishart loses 3-zip

Former Kiwi diplomat who sued Ian Wishart loses 3-zip


AUCKLAND, 18 December 2015 -- "Two weeks of their lives wasted" - a Wellington High Court jury that found journalist Ian Wishart guilty of defamation in 2013 have had their verdict thrown out by the Supreme Court.

The jury verdict had originally been quashed by the High Court judge who sat through the trial, and the decision to overturn the $270,000 ruling against Wishart and three others was also backed up by the Court of Appeal earlier this year.

Now, plaintiff Lindsay Smallbone - a former kiwi diplomat named a fraudster by Britain's highest courts for his role in a $150 million theft - has been told by the Supreme Court he has no chance of getting his defamation win reinstated, when the Court refused to give him leave to make any further appeal.

"He may have been able to charm a jury," Ian Wishart said today, "but Smallbone has failed to convince a total of seven judges in three separate courts that his defamation win should be allowed to stand after we uncovered explosive new evidence. I feel sympathy for the jury - that's two weeks of their lives wasted reaching a verdict they should never have reached. We always argued the jury got it wrong on the original evidence, but the new evidence made the verdict absolutely untenable."

Despite being deeply implicated in a massive European fraud case, Smallbone claimed his reputation had been harmed when his ex-wife made comments about his sexual antics in a book about her life called "The Hunt".

The original High Court trial was a "he said/she said case" where the jury had to toss a coin over who they ultimately believed. They chose to believe Lindsay Smallbone. But soon after the trial another woman, Witness Z, came forward with highly credible evidence that she too had suffered similar things to Smallbone's ex-wife.

The first to rule against Smallbone was the High Court judge who had led the two week trial in July and August 2013. He called the new evidence "a game-changer" and he threw out the jury verdict and quashed the $270,000 damages award, ordering a full retrial - almost unprecedented in New Zealand defamation history.

Smallbone appealed, arguing the High Court had no power to overrule a jury verdict, but lost when three senior judges of the Court of Appeal blasted him and his legal team this year over the way he had conducted his case. The Court of Appeal described the new evidence as potentially powerful and said that in a “he-said, she-said case, where the only two eyewitnesses to an encounter give conflicting evidence about what passed between them, evidence of a third person that established a relevant propensity is unquestionably capable of satisfying the jury”.

Now, three Supreme Court judges have upheld the two lower court rulings by refusing Smallbone leave to make a final appeal. The Supreme Court commented:

"Even if Williams J should not have recalled his judgment and there was no jurisdiction to order a retrial, there would have been a right of appeal against the judgment. The issue of new evidence could have been raised on appeal. It is implicit in the Court of Appeal’s finding that the evidence of Witness Z was sufficiently credible, fresh and cogent that the appeal would have been allowed. Given this, there would be no practical benefit in an appeal to this Court on the question of jurisdiction.

"Further, the Court of Appeal’s findings relating to Witness Z were concurrent findings with those of the High Court. They are factual findings relevant to the particular circumstances of this case."

The Supreme Court ruling means Lindsay Smallbone has now lost his defamation case three-zip, says Wishart.

"The High Court threw out the jury verdict and ordered a full retrial, so officially Smallbone never won the High Court case. That decision has now been upheld by all the appellate courts. Whether Smallbone chooses to go through a new trial and any appeal process that follows, we will have to wait and see, but certainly the defendants are prepared for it," Wishart says.

The case sets an important precedent on the power of judges to overturn jury verdicts in defamation cases.

Lindsay Smallbone was represented by top defamation lawyer Peter McKnight and barrister Ali Romanos. Defendants George and Paulette London were represented by barrister Chris Tennet and Wanganui lawyer Stephanie Burlace, and Ian Wishart represented himself.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

New Reports: Flood Risk From Rain And Sea Under Climate Change

One report looks at what would happen when rivers are flooded by heavy rain and storms, while the other examines flooding exposure in coastal and harbour areas and how that might change with sea-level rise.

Their findings show that across the country almost 700,000 people and 411,516 buildings worth $135 billion are presently exposed to river flooding in the event of extreme weather events...

There is near certainty that the sea will rise 20-30 cm by 2040. By the end of the century, depending on whether global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it could rise by between 0.5 to 1.1 m, which could add an additional 116,000 people exposed to extreme coastal storm flooding. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>


Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>


Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>


Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>


Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>


Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>


School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>


IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>


Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>




InfoPages News Channels