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Nick Smith MP seeks to remove defendant's rights

Media Release 18 July 2005 - available for immediate use.

Nick Smith MP seeks to remove defendant's rights to justice

In the latest twist to his obsession with Christchurch conservationist Bruce Stuart-Menteath, Nelson MP, Nick Smith, is attempting to use Stuart-Menteath's limited financial ability as grounds for striking out his defence to Smith's breach of contract action.

Smith began the breach of contract action after Stuart-Menteath put out a media release in September last year publicising the fact that an out of court settlement of his defamation action against Smith had been reached.

Stuart-Menteath began the defamation action when Smith refused to apologise for making patently false, offensive and defamatory comments during his fronting of the National Party's 2001 "Fixing the RMA" campaign.

At public meetings throughout the country he maligned Stuart-Menteath's character and alleged that his appeal to the Environment Court, which concerned a proposal for a hotel on the foreshore at Punakaiki, was an abuse of the Resource Management Act and a good example of why the Act needed changing.

"Smith's comments about me were not only very very nasty, but his claim that my appeal somehow abused the RMA process was clearly a disingenuous tactic used to manipulate public opinion to support his view."

Now Smith is claiming that Stuart-Menteath breached the confidentiality of the settlement by revealing some of its terms in his media release and is suing him for $50,000 damages.

But rather than let the matter proceed to a full hearing, during which Stuart-Menteath would be able to use his right to defend himself in court by examining the full circumstances of the alleged breach of contract, and Smith's conduct, which in an election year may prove to be a matter of considerable public interest, Smith is attempting to prevent him from having that opportunity.

"This is a very interesting situation whereby a peoples' representative is attempting to further his self interest by denying another of their right to justice, as provided for under section 27 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act, on the basis of their reduced financial circumstances."

Smith has used similar tactics in this saga before when he made a futile application to strike out Stuart-Menteath's defamation action, but then made an 11th hour decision to settle out of court.

Smith's latest strike out application will be heard in No 4 courtroom, Christchurch District Court, on 26 July 2005 at 10 am.


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