Little decides to play chicken with the people he defamed

via One News

via One News

It was revealed last month that Earl Hagaman, chairman of Scenic Hotels, made a $100,000 donation a month before his company was awarded a contract to run Niue’s Matavai luxury resort.

The resort is heavily funded by New Zealand government aid and is owned by a trust on behalf of Niue’s government.

At the time, Mr Little questioned the timing of Mr Hagaman’s donation and the awarding of the contract, and called on the auditor-general to investigate.

Mr Hagaman and his wife Lani gave Mr Little until 5pm on Friday to apologise.

“We’re incredibly disappointed he hasn’t apologised and retracted what he said,” Mrs Hagaman said in a statement.

Defamation proceedings are now being prepared and will be filed shortly, the statement said.

Mr Little said he had written to the Hagaman’s lawyers on Friday.

He had informed them that, as leader of the opposition, he had a constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the government over the expenditure of public funds.

Mr Little said he would address the issues raised by the Hagamans once the auditor-general had dealt with the referral, either by concluding an investigation or declining to conduct one.

The Hagamans are asking for a full retraction and apology.

Typical union staunchness and a total lack of pragmatism there.  The arrogance of Andrew Little is breathtaking. He may like to think he can claim to be holding the government to account but he basically said the Hagamans were corrupt. He can’t do that and he will find out the hard way.

I doubt, though, it will come to anything substantial for either party, as Little will chicken out at the last minute.  He simply can’t afford to go into an election with a defamation suit active against him.

Ask Colin Craig – it doesn’t do your political career any favours.


– Yahoo!


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  • Positan

    Breathtaking! And this man actually believes he is Prime Minister material!

    • OneTrack

      Worse, the Labour Party thinks he is Prime Minister material.

      • Positan

        But that’s Labour’s problem – no one else’s. Possessed as it is, of no appreciable sense of policy and no idea whatsoever of what constitutes leadership in any those it moots as “leaders” that’s exactly why Labour’s standing is where it is – and still falling.

  • contractor

    Ideally the Hagamans do sue the pants off Little and make him pay the penalty award to the National party!

  • Tony Norriss

    He’ll probably expect the Labour party to pay for the legal costs and the settlement. Despite the fact they are on struggle street financially themselves.

  • Korau

    I just can’t see the upside of Little’s chosen course. He either will end up apologising or paying as his original remarks (not accurately conveyed in the article) appeared to call corruption.

    Chicken Little is a well established morality play and can be found here .

    I think Andrew will eventually work out that thesky really is falling.

  • Beria

    I wonder who is providing Andy’s legal advice. Noone has ever argued a constitutional right for any politician to defame, certainly not outside the House. The timing of the donation, before or after some other event, such as the 2014 election, is insufficient reason to exercise Andy’s imagined constitutional duty to defame people.

  • Andy

    As representative he could follow the path of his enquiries but quietly would be the way to go about it.

  • Isherman

    Then again, nothing Andy’s done to date will do his political career any favours anyway.

  • Cadwallader

    There is a fundamental rule when defamation proceedings are flying about: Never play chicken! If there is only a slight chance that a defamatory statement can be sheeted home then the advice is to bail out with a strong apology. Little’s actions here are the dividend of his union based bullying, belligerence and a lack of forethought. In other words his thinking (if it can be called that) is limited to the short sharp aggressive statement then a walkout. His statement, whether or not he authored it about the Haggmans is indicative of union negotiations…wham, bang and to hell with tomorrow. Had the idiot even drawn breath for 24 hours he may have learned that there was no causal connection between the donation and the contract, and better yet, Jacinda may have been able to draw his flaky attention to her father’s role. But not for Little, he preferred to be a grim faced union hack who thought that he could turn a short sharp trick on the government. This ill-tempered rodentesque fool is not and never will be a PM.

    • Rob

      Shades of ‘I’m alright Jack” (Still available on Youtube)

      • Rick H

        A great old movie, that. Describes the Unions to a tee. I have it saved on my HDD, along with some other old good ones of its era; and watch them again from time to time.

        • Sailor Sam

          Remember the song: “You can’t touch me I’m part of the union”?
          A little ditty popular last century.

    • Big_Al

      His inability to see or understand the big picture is amazing. I’ve lost count of the number of bloopers the man has made since entering parliament.
      He is a proven idiot and a complete liability to the Labour party. While he is at the helm they will never be the government.

    • biscuit barrel

      They may be so for an individual or a media outlet. But as we saw in the John Key case with an aggrieved camera man, being a party leader means you wait till the actual court papers are filed, ( or just before to settle on a confidential basis)
      Over the last 8 years its been one of Keys strengths despite all the media spots hes done, hes been free of lawsuits (except 1).
      Thats quite a skill to navigate tricky shoals

      • Cadwallader

        I don’t agree. The principle is, and always has been, the faster you’re in (with an apology) the faster the world moves on. The same ideal applies to making genuine mistakes, admit the mistake, remedy the mistake then move on. If a situation is denied or fudged it has time to grow and fester. If Little was truly contrite which he ought to be, he’d have telephoned those he defamed and dealt with the issues immediately. Not only would that likely sate the aggrieved but it would’ve given him an opportunity to manfully explain his position. This is not the unionists’ way, unionists thrive on aggression and dictates to apparently exhibit to their waning number of members that they are being effective. They’re effective all right: Effectively stupid.

        • biscuit barrel

          Cadwallader you speak like a gentleman of integrity and reputation , thats not how politicians think.

          Some years back Lynton Crosby put the blowtorch to Hagers balls some years ago regarding something he said. His smug account of what happened is online if you search and will give some idea of the process, and why a political type person will delay as much as possible.

  • Woody

    Don’t forget that this is the same man who demanded that John Key apologize for stating a provable fact. Words fail me.

  • oldmanNZ

    I wonder, if Little ever becomes PM (lets just try to imagaine).

    and question time, ” Does A. Little stand by all his Statements?”

    Making statements after checking the facts is why JK always stand by his.
    in cases where he has made some errors, he apologises.

    • Rick H

      That “question” should be 100% banned from question time in the house.
      All questions should be about a particular topic or action.

  • OneTrack

    Expect even more Labour Party fundraising to be started to pay for Little’s legal fees and penalty payment when he loses.

  • Alan Beresford B’Stard

    Maybe he thinks there’s some political gain to be had by going up against the “rich pricks”, some sort of public sympathy angle. Time will tell I guess, but it strikes me as a risky gamble.

    • biscuit barrel

      The Hagamans wont want to get to court, as they have a private company and the discovery process would bring a lot of their private stuff out into open, whether it was relevant or not.

      • Rightsideofthebed

        I think you are overplaying the ‘discovery’ angle. This isn’t the US. In relation to defamation, iirc, the test is Chicken Little has to show factual basis or honest belief in a factual basis – where there’s smoke there’;s fire is not a factual basis.

  • Bryan

    when you go back over party donations Hagamans have given to national before from memory, so to claim this one donation is special is very weak

    • Tom

      National and Labour remember!

  • Eiselmann

    Yes Angry Andrew and Labour should hold the government to account and be able to do that ,however the smart operators do so in Parliment where they have legal protections….out on the street, in public, you’re just another citizen Angry Andrew …you forgot that.

  • Gazza

    It amazes me how Littles arrogance still has him suggesting that the Hagamans are in the wrong , does he not think if they had done anything remotely wrong then they wouldn’t be suing , apparently he has already asked the caucus and his MP’s to chip in , they apparently said no ,
    Further to a comment a couple of days ago , I wonder if the King issue , is perhaps King has decided not to stand aside , with Littles poor performance on virtually every topic , or perhaps she is going to stand for mayoralty after all , and may step down early to put all her efforts into the mayoral race , forcing yet another very expensive bi-election which Labour certainly cant afford

    • Ross15

      I think it is too late for King to decide to go for Mayor, this time around. I also think she will not stand down in Rongotai for Little. They would lose the seat –King has a huge personal following , so no matter who replaced her as Labour candidate the winning margin ( if they retained the seat) would drop. Little would lose the seat , for sure. Also the demographics of the area are changing.

      • Gazza

        You have just un picked what the King issue is , the issue is then , that if King stays she wins the seat , if Little takes it he more than likely loses the seat , they would have polled this very issue , and I bet its telling them Little would lose and hence the phrase the King issue

  • Peter

    No mention in the Herald today (online that is) that I could see. Cant be news. Wonder what the reaction might be if a National MP was in the same position…

    • Brian

      Was in the odt on page 3 also labour is standing a Dunedin based academic in Invercargill for next year’s election yup out of touch with the real world you can imagine what southlanders would think about someone from outside the province who does not have dirt under their nails! Apparently she was the only contender !

  • Jude

    The fact is ,that the trustees, one of whom , is Adern’s father, went through a process to appoint a company to run the Hotel.
    They did this independently of government interference. The company that won that process is a New Zealand owned company.
    To any prospective donors, think very carefully about any donation to Labour.
    Your reputation is at risk?

  • Lance Ralph

    Little’s letter to the solicitor puts me in mind of ‘As You Like it It’ Act 5 Scene 4. Touchstone the clown outlines the dynamic of a quarrel between two people.
    Little has just issued the ‘retort courteous’ from whence it might proceed through the ‘reply churlish’ to the ‘countercheck quarrelsome’ all the way to the ‘lie direct’.
    Shakespeare missed a trick though as Little stared this process by uttering the ‘pronouncement of stupefying idiocy’.

  • T Mardell

    Methinks this is just a face saving exercise for him to get out, resign, and go back on a union salary. They at least have more funds to pay it. And it appears he’s not getting back next election on the List, and no-one is gifting him a safe electorate seat.

  • Wayne Peter McIndoe

    Little is clearly getting some bad advice here, particularly with the Haggemans who have done much for the tourism industry here in NZ

    • Woody

      I had a small lightbulb moment, he must be getting his advice from Facepalm and Twits, the lefty echo chambers where everyone (the whole 3 of them) agree with his stupidity.

  • Effluent

    Mr Little obviously isn’t aware of the Streisand effect.
    Although in this case, he isn’t the one bringing the legal case, but the defendant, the net effect is the same; he will attract a lot more unwanted publicity.

    He has foolishly declined an opportunity to show that he is capable of a gracious gesture,by apologising for the unnecessarily defamatory tone of his remarks and saying that he would follow up his concerns (if he has any genuine ones) via the proper channels

    • biscuit barrel

      Doesnt work that way when politicains get sued. A lawyers letter from the Hagamans just means the stakes are higher. Its not till court papers are filed that the technical details are available and then you can apologise if your position is untenable. But often you want to string this out till after an election or everyone has forgotten what it was all about anyway.
      The person being sued has a trump hand in that ‘ legal discovery’ of the Hagamans documents over the deal is the next step and their personal diaries of which cabinet members they have met , or not is best kept hidden.

      • Ross15

        I think I heard last night the Haggaman lawyer’s had/were preparing papers to be filed ASAP.

        • biscuit barrel

          Thats just another longer legal letter. Would be some months before they say they have retained a defamation lawyer and then you have to serve papers.
          When Little does settle it will be well down the track, and us taxpayers will be funding it.

          • OneTrack

            That’s ok, we can use the money we would otherwise have spent on children living in poverty.

      • Effluent

        Given Little’s recent track record of shooting himself in the foot, and his persistent tendency to behaviour and utterances that make manifest an obnoxious personality, I still think he is likely to come off worse in the court of public opinion over the long haul.
        Unless Mr Hagaman has done something that is evidently in breach of the rules, simply having made a donation to the National Party will not be sufficient to convince most sane people that he or the National Party has done anything wrong. It’s not as if, in a society as small as NZ, most donors do not have such links to one or another of the political parties.
        As long as the tendering process for the hotel contract complied with the requirements of probity, Mr Little’s comment will be seen as no more than a clumsy and vindictive attempt at smearing the reputation of anyone who has the temerity to make a donation to a party other than Labour.

      • OneTrack

        If a Little git had forced me to start a defamation action, him suddenly apologising wouldn’t make me abandon it. I would want to see it through to the bitter end. With a claim for costs, as well as damages. Maybe he would think about what he says without the protection of the house next time.

  • Dan

    If (when) this does go to court it will be interestig who will pay the legal fees.
    1)Little burned “the Party Slush Account” bridge a while back after JK did this.
    2) Labour coffers are as empty as a kiddies piggy bank with a hole cut in the bottom (ie not enough to buy the popcorn)
    3)perhaps EPMU / CTU or anything else ending in U?
    4) Funds raised by selling a speech or two?
    5)A give-a-LITTLE campaign?

    • Miss McGerkinshaw

      Am looking forward to his begging email, courtesy of Spanish Bride. Should be a laugh to see how he excuses his action.

    • zotaccore

      I can’t see it likely that he will go running off to Ardern or her father for a contribution towards legal fees. Little is a nutter and he’s lost the plot over this whole issue.

  • Red_NZ

    The thing that gets me with this is the Hypocrisy coming from Labour over this. A New Zealand company all be it owned by a person without a New Zealand accent, won the bid to run this resort over many multi national companies. Yet because they’ve previously donated to the National party and Labour in the past, they don’t deserve to run this resort. When trains were made in China, weren’t we told the contract should have gone to a New Zealand company? So a New Zealand company gets what Labour wants….. but they can’t have it, i’ve seen children have more understandable tantrums than this

  • sheppy

    I truly hope this goes ahead, actions have consequences, and throwing unfounded accusations at innocent people just to score a political point should have consequences too

  • biscuit barrel

    Theres seems to be a misapprehension that being in opposition means you cant get the taxpayers to pay legal costs. It has happened before for a national MP

    • Carl

      What about the stink Labour kicked up when it was suggested that John Key might use tax payer money to pay Bradley Ambrose so if he did it would be another bad look from Little.

      • biscuit barrel

        Different situation. Normally ministers ( and opposition spokesman) can get taxpayer funding if they are speaking on their official duties. In that case Key spoke during election campaign. But yes the labour party would be two faced about getting something they claimed wasnt right previously. It will be water of a ducks back for them.

        • Kitschinsync

          Just wondering, can Little get taxpayer funded assistance if he is no longer the leader of Labour and drops down the list far enough to be out of parliament?.

          If he cannot then he might not want this to drag out past the elections.

          • biscuit barrel

            Makes no difference if he later has change of status, but of course an apology would be more likely to be forthcoming if it gives the next leader opposition a clean slate.

  • Miss McGerkinshaw

    ” Little will chicken out at the last minute”
    Please, please, please – don’t let a late apology get him off the hook.
    Sincerely hope the Hagaman’s continue with the law suit even if he does apologise once the Auditor General finds there is nothing to see here.

    • Mav E Rick

      I totally agree, if he tires to worm his way out, just keep the court action going. As I have always said when I have unfortunately had to commence court action against a bad payer, once the bulldozer has started and moving down the track of court action, it doesnt stop until a Judge has reached a decision.

    • justhinking

      Wasn,t it chicken little who ran around crying ,the sky is falling, maybe andrew likes that story!