3 Apr 2012

Labour MP happy for court action to proceed

8:35 pm on 3 April 2012

Labour Party MP Trevor Mallard says he would be happy to see legal action threatened by ACC Minister Judith Collins proceed.

Ms Collins plans to take a defamation case against Mr Mallard, another party member Andrew Little and Radio New Zealand over comments made about who leaked details about ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar to the media.


Judith Collins is yet to follow through on her threat of legal action, but said on Tuesday that she is not about to back down.

"Why don't they man up and front up with the evidence. The people of New Zealand are sick of gutter politics."

Ms Collins says she will cover her own costs of the court action.

Prime Minister John Key says Ms Collins denies any involvement in the leak and claims made about her have gone well beyond robust political debate.

Mr Key says she feels very strongly about the matter, but he will not be drawn on whether he believes her reputation has been damaged.

"Look, that's a matter ultimately for the courts - it would be a silly thing for me to wade in. All I can say is, the minister feels really strongly about it; she's funding it and she has my support ... I accept completely that people do feel strongly about their reputation."

John Key says he has not tried to talk Ms Collins out of taking legal action.

Trevor Mallard says he is confident he has taken good legal advice and is satisfied with the material he has to back up his comments.

"We should let the case run if she wants to let it run, because I think that will be more interesting."

Mr Mallard says his comments were soft in comparison with things the minister has said in the past.

Labour's ACC spokesperson Andrew Little says it is time for Judith Collins to get down off her high horse and get on with her job.

Mr Little says he has nothing to apologise to Ms Collins for and all he has done is ask questions of her as a minister. He says he has not been served defamation proceedings so far and the legal threat looks like a side-show.

Labour leader David Shearer says Judith Collins is being thin-skinned with her threat of legal action against the MPs.

Mr Shearer says if the matter goes to court, it will give Labour the opportunity to look at the minister's emails, text messages and phone calls.

"Judith Collins is probably getting a bit too thin-skinned about taking this up. She's not exactly lily-white - she called (former MP) David Benson-Pope a pervert in her day.

"So I think perhaps we should just back off and just accept it for what it is - MPs having a go at each other."