I wonder if that was worth the $50k

Poor precious petal Jon Stephenson rushed off to court because he thought he had been defamed by the Army who were responding to his own accusations in a series of articles.

He found out an expensive lesson…just because you think something is defamatory doesn’t mean it is, and it certainly isn’t worth what you think it is worth either.

A Wellington jury has been unable to reach a decision on whether Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones defamed freelance war reporter Jon Stephenson.

The High Court jury of seven men and five women began deliberating just after 3.30pm yesterday. Jurors returned about 5pm today to say they had been unable to reach a decision. They were then discharged. 

Speaking outside court, Stephenson said he was disappointed that the jury had not been able to reach a decision.

“But I’m also delighted that the main reason we came here, the fact that I did go to the base and I did interview the commander as I reported, has been conceded by the Defence Force.

“The point was not about the money, the point was to hold the Defence Force to account for saying things that weren’t true.”

Stephenson did not rule out the possibility of a retrial of the case or settling with the Defence Force.

Jones said he had been happy to make the concession he did after hearing Stephenson’s evidence, but added that the claim had been defended to defend the people who were accused in a Metro magazine article Stephenson wrote.

Too many people are far too quick to rush off court for perceived sleights to their precious name.

In this case Jon Stephenson hasn’t got what he wanted, cost himself an enormous amount of money proving nothing and still looks like a lefty ponce with his nose out of joint.

But the defendants continue to deny the words in the press release had the meaning Stephenson alleged, or were defamatory. Even if they were defamatory they were in response to an “attack”, and it might be worth $10, their lawyer said.

That much? I doubt it.

The only bonus form this case the resulting lefty handwringing.


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  • peterwn

    And he is talking about a re-trial. This will cost another 5 figure sum – a rich aunt must have died recently.

  • rouppe

    I was on the selection pool for that trial. Thank god I didn’t get picked.

    But for the jury to fail to reach a decision is just gutless. That was 8 days of high court time, and the bunch of pansy soft-cock useless buggers couldn’t reach a decision.

    • LabTested

      I was on a jury once that failed to reach a decision. A sexual assault. Even though the guy admitted sexual contact to the police, some jury members just refused to find him guilty as the victim was a young brown girl who had been out drinking and was therefore ‘just asking for it’.

      This attitude was strongest with some middle aged Polynesia woman (although the victim was Polynesian) & a Henderson high school teacher who ‘knows these sort of people’

      The problem is the Jury system, but i’m not sure what the answer is

      • mike

        Get rid of jury’s and a have a panel of judges who hear all the evidence, ask the hard questions and make a decision based on facts not emotion.

        • HtD

          Problem is, we can’t trust some of our judges and we have no system of making them accountable for negligence, like we have with doctors, Real Estate people, Accountants etc.
          I favour a panel of 2 properly paid lay people and one judge.
          Juries used to be ‘peers’ i.e. people who knew the person being tried and the witnesses. So they took character and previous form into account informally. What we have now is biased in favour of the habitual criminal and their lawyer.

          • mike

            True… however I would prefer a legal system where you have an adviser for the defendant, and then three qualified independent judges.

            Set up a judiciary review board to conduct regular reviews of cases to determine whether justice is truly being served.

            And set it up where judges are not eligible for any further public office (or politics).

        • le sphincter

          A jury trial is optional.
          It seems the Defence head did technically defame the guy, just the amount of damages was in dispute. Defence just offered $10.
          But you are right it was a stupid jury as they could have found the case proved and given him $10k and every one was happy

      • rouppe

        My first jury service was a High Court jury on an incest case. Unfortunately it was about 10 years after the event (as they inevitably are), there was no police report, no medical evidence, no witnesses, nothing apart from her saying he did it and him saying he didn’t.

        We all wanted to find him guilty but at the end of the day we couldn’t because once you convict on someone’s word alone then you are into witch trials. However there was one jury member who steadfastly would not find not guilty because as far as she was concerned, if the female had the courage to push for the trial, he must have done it.

        This was before majority decisions were available, so it was a hung trial – 11 to 1

  • Polish Pride

    “But I’m also delighted that the main reason we came here, the fact that I did go to the base and I did interview the commander as I reported, has been conceded by the Defence Force.”
    I hope the defence of this is then coming out of Rhys Jones’s pocket and not the tax payers!

  • metalnwood

    The court systems would be tied up 24/7 if every journo went to court because someone said they didnt do what the journo wrote up in their column.

    Thats just life when reporting things, even if true people may say things didnt happen. You could take it personally and say you were defamed but you would spend all your time in court. Thats what journalists have to put up with, get another job.

    • Bunswalla

      Does anyone else think it’s hilarious that a journalist is suing someone for telling lies?!?!

  • HtD

    There is something amiss when the families of murder victims who are not breadwinners get $5000 from ACC and no other compensation whatsoever, yet ‘we’ can afford this trivial crap.
    Part of the reason we have ‘bail fail’ is long waits for trials, because the courts are clogged. So people are dying because court time is wasted on this crap and also in spurious technical appeals by crims caught red handed.

  • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

    Anyone who takes someone else to court for calling them a name is a loser. It is only possible to do it if you have money. It is so unmasculine, yet it is men who do it more than women. What gives?
    If someone defamed me, I’d take it as a compliment that I have a public profile so have perhaps done something worth being named.
    You can’t be loved by everybody. Why pretend you can?

    • Hazards001

      What was it exactly that made you think this little twerp was masculine?

      • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

        I’m speaking in general. Anyone who takes someone to court for defamation is the equivalent of a little boy on the playground running to his dad to tell on the mean boys who’re picking on him.

        • Hazards001

          I know…I was attempting to fortify your point..might have come at it from the wrong direction. My bad,

          • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

            The best way to fortify the point might be to cite some examples of the big babies in our society. Maybe one of the biggest is that knighted “libertarian” whose always having his picture taken with parasitic lawyers and real estate agents, Sir Robert Jones. What a wuss that guy is! And the way he’d get his mug stuck on the papers when he’d win a suit as if to show the dopey people from the Hutt Valley where he’s from that this is how you get ahead. They’d take it up too: residential property investment as a way to riches and Trevor Mallard is that joint personified. You can take the boy out of Naenae, but you can’t take Naenae out of the boy. :-)

  • Mediaan

    90% of the “defamation” was created by the publicity (created by Stephenson himself) over the court case. In other words, Stephenson did the damage to himself.

    Recommendation: If upset about defamation, take a week off and try to distract yourself. By then it has probably been forgotten by everyone except you.

    • le sphincter

      Its his reputation stupid, as a journalist its every thing.

      It would be like Duncan Garner, who makes it all before he goes on air, was the usual. Some actually to go out do real interviews. That was then real point of the trial he did go on base and gather a real story. Wehther you like it or even believe it is up to you

      • Mediaan

        Defamation is partly defined by the extent to which it reaches the audience.

  • Bob

    We need professional jurors. I am self employed and could not afford to pay the. I mortgage on the crappy $70 odd dollars per day you get as a juror. Imagine being stuck on a six week trial? You’d be fucking skint.

    So pay me the money I would otherwise make and I will do my civic duty. Until then, don’t fucking send me a letter threatening me with jail and a fine for not doing it.