Disgusting defamatory smear on John Key via Twitter from Trevor Mallard

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Yesterday at 2:34pm Trevor Mallard made a tweet that didn’t just accuse John Key of being associated with tax evasion, it actually stated he was involved.

I have a screenshot, but the tweet has since been deleted, and I’m not going to repeat what it said.

Suffice to say it was highly defamatory and you would think that an Assistant Speaker of the House would know better than to use Twitter from inside the house to defame the Prime Minister.

But deleting the text doesn’t make the defamation any less.

Worse still he tweeted that during Question Time.

Recently the Privileges Committee issued recommendations on the use of social media by members during parliament.

We believe that our examination of this question of privilege provides a timely opportunity to remind members and others of some existing and relevant parliamentary rules and practices, as well as some significant issues that should be borne in mind when using social media. We recommend that these various rules and practices be compiled to form standalone guidance to be issued by the Speaker (Appendix C). In particular, we wish to clarify any misconception about comments made by members on social media, including comments made from the Chamber. Such comments are not part of parliamentary proceedings, nor are they published under the authority of the House. Therefore, they may not be protected by parliamentary privilege. Members should be aware that anything said on social media is potentially actionable in court. Members should also be careful not to disclose confidential select committee proceedings or reports through any means, including social media. The House may treat any such breach of confidentiality as a contempt. Another potential contempt that may be committed through social media is an adverse reflection on the character or conduct of a member (including the Speaker).

So clearly Trevor Mallard is in breach of those recommendations from the Privileges Committee. Indeed the Speaker’s ruling says;

Although members tweeting from the Chamber during question time or debates is clearly not a proceeding in Parliament, this is not well understood and nor are the House’s wider rules protecting parliamentary proceedings and the various participants in them. Tweets may be actionable in the courts. Members could find themselves held in contempt by the House for publishing a false or misleading account of proceedings or reflecting on the character or conduct of the House or members.

So it appears that Mallard has breached parliamentary privilege and should in fact be referred to the Privileges Committee. Appendix C of the recommendations goes further on Part 4(b):

(b) Comments made by members on social media may not be covered by parliamentary privilege even if they have been made in the Chamber or a select committee meeting and relate to the business of the House or committees. Such comments are unlikely to be part of parliamentary proceedings or published under the authority of the House. Members may, therefore, be held legally liable for comments made on social media in the same way as they are for comments made outside the House.

I think it is time that Mallard was held to account. John Key may not wish to sue him for defamation, but there is the Privileges Committee available for a complaint.

It was an appalling defamation, and one which should be held to account in some way. The fact that he is an Assistant Speaker means this must be taken seriously.


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  • Keeping Stock

    David Carter must stand Mallard down from his duties whilst this is investigated. I would be highly surprised if this does not result in a complaint of a matter of privilege, and for one of the Presiding Officers of the House to be involved in this way is not anly a serious matter, but it is very poor form indeed.

    It could also be the final nail in the coffin for any chance Mallard has of being Speaker should Labour ever be elected to govern. He is simply a loose cannon, with very poor judgment to boot. It’s time he sought a new career.

  • phronesis

    Not printing what the text said is only really protecting Trevor Mallard. It’s difficult to know what to make of the whole issue without knowing what we are talking about.

    • Keeping Stock

      I agree with Cam on this. If he republished the tweet, he is in effect repeating the defamatory remark.

      I have seen the tweet; it was doing the rounds last night. There’s no ambiguity to it; it is a blatant allegation of criminal conduct on the part of the PM, and on that basis, WO is taking a sensible and responsible stance.

    • It is clear that there is no protection of privilege, nor of qualified privilege, so better to be safe than sorry.

  • Grizz30

    It is difficult for Key to take a defamation case to court. No matter how correct you are, explaining is losing and it draws unnecessary attention upon yourself. It is better to let the court of public opinion crucify the the defamed or just shut up.

  • Jude

    It probably just highlights how desperate the Left are getting. I think Trev Mallard knows full well this is turning out to be like Kim Dotcons big reveal and Labour are going to be left looking very foolish and incompetent in the public eyes!

  • Graeme

    Brings back Cullens comment about JK.

  • Second time around

    As Key had denied the primary allegations to Little’s repeated questioning just minutes before, what I understand of the tweet is that Mallard has effectively accused Key of deliberately misleading the house. That is a serious accusation against another member and Mallard needs to formalise his complaint with the evidence he has to support it.

    • biscuit barrel

      Rebutting their arguments goes on all the time. hardly news that MPs dont think they are being told the truth
      Parliamentary Privilege Act, covers any communications of proceedings of Parliament which would seem to give Mallard a defence while tweeting while inside the chamber. Whether the Speaker allows it or indeed if it was wise is different.
      As you say, Key was just saying its all above board, so Mallard was very likely able to get away with his ‘disapproval’

  • [MOD] I have missed boofhead.

    • biscuit barrel

      Mallard as Deputy Speaker . inst that a fantastic time to be alive !

  • andrewo

    Helen would have sued in this instance.
    It would be amusing to take Mallard’s money off him…even better to donate it to charity afterwards.

  • cows4me

    How old is Mallard? Wasn’t he a teacher once ? Sending notes in class, always got busted. The man once again raises the bar on stupidity.

    • kayaker

      He must be in his ’60s. Mallard was student president when I was at Wellington Teachers’ College mid-’70s. Dirty dreadlocks – can never get that picture out of my head. Joint student pres was also Audrey Young. Mallard could be quite nasty and was an angry, highly inflammatory character back then too. No respect for authority in any way shape or form. He despised our lovely Principal of the College so much, that he advertised the Principal’s job in the Dominion thinking it would raise his ire. Like the true gentleman that he was, the Principal just laughed it off. Fail!

      Mallard has never had a proper job. He’s just been an agitator all his life. He would be highly frustrated at his unrealised power ambitions and being relegated to the back bench. I was surprised and horrified when he was appointed Assistant Speaker – they’ve really raised the bar to new low heights.

      • biscuit barrel

        Speakers themselves have set a low bar over many years.

        • Aucky

          You’re excluding Lockwood Smith I hope.

      • benniedawg

        Mallard’s only contribution to education was to completely shaft technology teachers, but more tragically the kids who want to engage in technology or trades based courses. Mallard’s decision to deny Technology teachers qualification equivalence resulted in huge numbers leaving and returning to their professions of expertise. All done to exclude some 300 NZEI teachers being eligible for a salary step up and therefore saving the then labour government about $150,000.
        Try and find a technology teacher today to teach kids practical skills or trade unit standards. Near impossible . None to be found.

    • Aucky

      Why the heck grown adults need Twitter is beyond me as it really is adolescent behaviour. Sending notes in class is a very appropriate comparison. I despair when I see useless articles like Dyson and Mallard tucked away in the far corner of the backbenches hunched over their cellphones and contributing nothing but raucous heckling in between twitters.

      • cows4me

        It’s a crime the taxpayer has to support these immature children. I wonder if the money invested in the legions of politicians actually results in the betterment of the country as a whole. As far as I’m concerned we are all mugs.

  • Dumrse

    Does a privilege complaint have to come from within the Parliment ?

  • What these turkeys (and ducks) don’t seem to understand is they are only playing to the converted and, looking at the latest pole results, even the converted are questioning this approach.

  • Usaywot

    The fact that his wife, Jane Clifton, is the political reporter for The Listener is good enough reason never to buy the Listener again. I cancelled my sub when I found out. Impartial reporter? Me thinks not.

    • biscuit barrel

      When was it a rule that said reporters are ‘impartial’- about the only people where thats a job requirement is judges.
      Mps are not expected to be impartial, nor are journalists. same goes for you and I.
      There are some rules about ‘balance’ for radio and TV that use public airwaves, but its only applied in broadest sense

      • Annoyed

        There is no need for it to be a rule, but there is a reasonable expectation that any conflict of interest should be noted so that people don’t get a false perception of impartiality. Some reporters pretend to be impartial when they aren’t, that’s the problem.

        • SlightlyStrange

          MOST reporters pretend to be impartial.
          Fixed it for you

  • biscuit barrel

    Just checking a web site where politicians deleted tweets can be found.
    Seems like all of his tweets are deleted quickly.
    So on current standings four NZ Super Rugby teams will be in the quarterfinals (deleted after 1 minute)

    I give the link because it doesnt give details of tweet in question

    • DangerMice

      looks like it might be showing that tweet now though…

    • LesleyNZ

      Interesting reading all Mallard’s deleted tweets. Didn’t realise there were so many and note that most are deleted after a few seconds or a minute. looks like he is out of control and he can’t help himself. Just madness. Makes me wonder if he has a Labour minder moderator to try and keep him out of trouble and whose job is to delete the Mallard tweets as soon as they are entering cyberspace. Definitely Boofhead behaviour. Trevor Mallard must now step down from Assistant Speaker – in fact he must resign from parliament. This blog warned and gave advice to Trevor Mallard back in 2011. http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2011/12/social-media-tips-from-grandma/

  • Jono

    I find that Mallard has a history of trash talking with little proof. Seems to open his mouth without thinking first, remembering comments from the failed co-hosting RWC 2003 unbecoming of a Minister of the Crown. I guess that I am not surprised that this poor judgment has extended to Twitter.

  • Teletubby

    What I would love to know is if Mallard moved his assets into one of those evils trusts to protect himself after Judith Collins took proceedings against him. If he hasn’t it may be too late as really no Labour MPS can set up a trust now that Little has made such a song and dance.

  • zotaccore

    I’ve been watching Mallard closely since he became Asst Speaker and the observations I’ve made is that he acts like the Headmaster he never was. Sure there are criticisms of Carter, I accept that. But with Mallard he stretches the powers he is given in very extraordinary ways. Put mildly, he is a travesty as an officer of the House and should Labour ever become the govt again and he becomes Speaker, I’m not sure he’d last the distance.

  • Legallysane

    Oh how I wish we could wash our hands of the lot of them and start all over again. This pettiness is beyond pathetic.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    The desperation to hang something on the Prime Minister has made the Panama Papers a seemingly gift from heaven for the Mud Mob. In their haste to click to automatic firing they have loaded their magazine from every Media party source in their sweep.
    Caution has gone with the wind as have the Parliamentary Rules along with all Speakers Rulings with several having to be read in their entirety to remind members of their significance. Even after that refresher Angry Andy and Shaw were determined to frame supplementary questions as statements and ignoring the answers.
    Mallard has always pushed the boundaries but now it seems that there are no rules that apply to him and anything goes.
    IMO the Prime Minister with his proven ability, experience and knowledge of money, banking and finance would have ensured his personal affairs were beyond reproach when he entered politics. Thus he is content to let the Mud Mob have as much rope as they want to be sure there is adequate for all to swing on.