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Defamation case against Little to start

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/04/2017

Andrew Little © Phil Walter/Getty Images Andrew Little Defamation proceedings against Labour leader Andrew Little are due to begin in Wellington's High Court.

Earl and Lani Hagaman started the proceedings against Mr Little in June last year, vowing to "clear our names in court".

That was after Mr Little had commented on a $100,000 donation Mr Hagaman made to the National Party, a month before his company was awarded a contract to run Nuie's Matavai luxury resort.

The resort is heavily funded by the New Zealand government and is owned by a trust on behalf of Niue's government.

At the time, Mr Little questioned the timing of the donation and the awarding of the contract.

He asked the auditor-general to hold an inquiry. She didn't find any connection between the donation and the award of the contract.

On Friday Mr Little issued a statement publicly apologising unreservedly.

But Mrs Hagaman said Mr Little had had 12 months to apologise, and the couple had spent more than $200,000 in legal fees preparing for the case.

She said she and her husband would seek legal advice during the weekend but, at first glance, believed they would continue.

Mr Little said he had offered to make a substantial contribution towards the Hagaman's costs, which he had been advised was greater than would likely have been awarded by the court.

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