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Legal action against Little to go ahead

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/05/2016

A business couple say they're going ahead with a defamation action against Labour leader Andrew Little after he failed to apologise by a deadline they set.

It was revealed last month that Earl Hagaman, chairman of Scenic Hotels, made a $100,000 donation a month before his company was awarded a contract to run Niue's Matavai luxury resort.

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

At the time, Mr Little questioned the timing of Mr Hagaman's donation and the awarding of the contract, and called on the auditor-general to investigate.

Mr Hagaman and his wife Lani gave Mr Little until 5pm on Friday to apologise.

"We're incredibly disappointed he hasn't apologised and retracted what he said," Mrs Hagaman said in a statement.

Defamation proceedings are now being prepared and will be filed shortly, the statement said.

Mr Little said he had written to the Hagaman's lawyers on Friday.

He had informed them that, as leader of the opposition, he had a constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the government over the expenditure of public funds.

Mr Little said he would address the issues raised by the Hagamans once the auditor-general had dealt with the referral, either by concluding an investigation or declining to conduct one.

The Hagamans are asking for a full retraction and apology.

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