15 Jun 2013

Tongan newspaper editor says defamation decision nothing new

7:05 am on 15 June 2013

The editor of a Tongan newspaper says he is not intimidated after damages were awarded against him for defaming the Prime Minister.

Lord Tuivakano and six cabinet ministers brought the claim against the Kele'a newspaper after a letter to the editor published in October 2012 accused some parliamentarians of being above the law.

The editor of Kele'a, Mateni Tapueluelu, says he is sure the High Court will overturn the decision on appeal, saying the action against the paper was an attempt to distract the courts and the public from the issue of criminal accusations the MPs are facing.

He says the letter referred to the accusations that were made in Parliament.

"The letter was based on the argument on the vote of no confidence. This is a public issue, it was broadcast live on Radio Tonga, it is being discussed here and there and the letter itself is simply an opinion by a citizen of Tonga. This is completely allowed by the constitution and the law."

The editor of Kele'a Mateni Tapueluelu.