15 Apr 2011

ACC doctor says he has been defamed

8:45 pm on 15 April 2011

An ACC doctor at the centre of a legal wrangle says he still believes he has been defamed by an internet blog written by a woman who is the victim of sexual abuse.

The woman is being sued by the Accident Compensation Corporation's senior medical adviser Peter Jansen for $250,000 and is now reconsidering her position.

Jax says she has been unable to get counselling and made personal comments about Dr Jansen in a blog post in November last year.

She claims her privacy has been breached and is concerned that it appears ACC confidential records were accessed to obtain her name for legal papers to be served.

A statement from Dr Jansen's lawyer says it is the doctor's belief, supported by legal advice, that he has been defamed by the blog site and all he wants is for the comments to be withdrawn and for a public apology.

Dr Jansen also categorically denies that he accessed private information and used it to initiate legal action.

The woman told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Friday that she will consider withdrawing the blog comments.

"I am willing to negotiate, let's say that, because he's got more money than I have in the legal system, so I can't fight this. And he wants a public apology - that part is the one that I'm going to struggle with."

However, Jax says she also wants a public apology from Dr Jansen.

ACC says the issue is a private matter for Dr Jansen and that it is providing a report on the matter to ACC Minister Nick Smith.

In a statement on Friday, Dr Smith says he is disappointed the matter can not be resolved by taking the material off the blog site and stopping legal proceedings.

The minister says he is unable to intervene, as its a matter between individuals before the court, but hopes that common sense prevails.

The Labour Party says it knows of another ACC client facing legal action from an ACC doctor and will release details soon.

Processes need revisiting - MP

The first case was highlighted in Parliament by Labour during Question Time on Thursday.

MP Carmel Sepuloni asked ACC Minister Nick Smith whether it was fair for Dr Jansen to sue an ACC claimant "for speaking her mind on a blog about the appalling treatment of sexual abuse victims under his watch".

Ms Sepuloni said on Friday the situation was not yet resolved and that Dr Smith needed to revisit the processes in place in his ministry to ensure people coming to ACC for support are getting fair treatment, and that he is not justifying actions which are unacceptable to the public.