9 Jun 2004

Cook Islands Attorney-General gives go-ahead for libel case against media proprietor

10:33 am on 9 June 2004

The Attorney General in the Cook Islands has been given the go-ahead to take criminal proceedings against media proprietor George Pitt.

The ruling has been made in connection with the publication of a satirical letter in the Cook Islands Herald, purportedly written by prime minister to the premier of the People's Republic of China.

The fake letter was dated a day after the Prime Minister, Dr Robert Woonton returned from a state visit to Beijing.

The Cook Islands News reports that in the seven page ruling, Chief Justice, Laurie Greig, said the article could be classed as sufficiently serious to justify the intervention of criminal law.

Justic Greig said that proseuctions for criminal libel were rare and it's not thought that one has been brought before in the Cook Islands.

George Pitt says he will continue to defend his case, but has no further comment until he has spoken to his lawyers.