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Earl Hagaman to continue defamation claim

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/04/2017

Hoteliers Earl and Lani Hagaman will continue their claim of defamation against Labour leader Andrew Little.

On Monday a jury cleared Mr Little of defaming Mrs Hagaman in statements he made last year linking a $100,000 donation made by her husband to the National Party and a government-led contract awarded to his company, Scenic Hotel Group, a month later.

But the jury was unable to reach a decision on four of six causes of action brought in relation to Mr Hagaman.

On one matter they found Mr Little had defamed Mr Hagaman, but were not able to reach a majority decision on whether the defence of qualified privilege applied, while on three other matters they couldn't reach a majority conclusion on the question of defamation.

In a statement via her lawyers, Mrs Hagaman said she intended to continue action on behalf of her husband to resolve those matters.

"While Earl is still alive I believe that it is important that every effort is made to bring his claims to completion, and I intend to do so," she said on Wednesday.

Mr Hagaman is believed to have only weeks to live and Mrs Hagaman has power of attorney to act on his behalf.

Mrs Hagaman said she understood a retrial in the High Court would be ordered automatically on the outstanding matters.

Mr Little responded on Wednesday evening with his own statement.

''I have seen Lani Hagaman's statement seeking a retrial.

"I have taken every opportunity to resolve this matter and I have faced up to my responsibilities.

"My priority now are the thousands of New Zealanders who can't buy their own home, can't get the health care they need and who are struggling to get ahead.

"Fixing these problems means changing the Government and that is my focus.

"As this matter could be subject to further court proceedings, I will not be commenting further," he said.

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