8 Jul 2013

Afghan war correspondent sues Defence chief

10:56 pm on 8 July 2013

The lawyer for a war correspondent who is suing the Chief of Defence Force for defamation says Defence has played the man not the ball.

The civil case is being heard by a jury in the High Court at Wellington.

The case relates to articles written by freelance journalist Jon Stephenson about the New Zealand Defence force operations in Afghanistan.

His lawyer, Davey Salmon, says the Defence Force responded with a media statement that implied he had lied about visiting a base and interviewing a colonel there.

Mr Salmon says Mr Stephenson has attempted to get the Defence Force to retract these statements but they are still available on its website.

He says the Army has failed to take proper care, and has been reckless as to whether what it says is right or not.

Mr Salmon says Mr Stephenson's greatest asset is his reputation, and he made every effort to get the Defence Force to retract its statement and avoid taking the matter to court.