Serial litigant, rates dodger and dropkick, Penny Bright, is appealing the strike out of her defamation case

Penny Bright is a complete waste of space. She is a bludger off of the rest of Auckland ratepayers because she fails to pay her own rates.

Her defamation case against Stephen Town the CE of Auckland City was chucked out and now she is further wasting the court’s time and money by appealing the decision.

Perennial activist and self-appointed full-time public watchdog Penny Bright intends to appeal the High Court’s decision to throw out her defamation case against Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town.

Ms Bright took the case for general damages of $250,000 and aggravated and punitive damages of $100,000 against Mr Town after he authorised an October 2014 press release about the action being taken in chasing her for $38,000 in unpaid rates, in which she said he made defamatory claims.

She did not appear at the latest hearing and has been litigating the case herself.  

In her statement of claim, she said a passage which read: “Ms Bright has made wild and inaccurate accusations about the council and its probity and is using this as the basis for not paying her fair share to the ongoing running of Auckland. These assertions are completely unfounded and her actions are at the expense of all Aucklanders” was defamatory.

Ms Bright told the court the words in their natural and ordinary meaning were understood to mean her factual statements concerning council affairs and its probity were, in general not truthful or accurate; her criticisms were personally reckless and crazy; and she was not worthy of the public’s trust when it comes to information about council affairs or council probity.

“One of the objectives of the press release was to discredit me personally. It levelled serious allegations about my motives in disputing and not paying my rates. The release was designed to cause maximum distress and damage to my reputation.”

The alleged defamation was not a rebuttal of an attack, Ms Bright said, but instead part of a double-barrelled attack upon her. She described the first part of that attack – the council’s court application to bring about a forced sale of her property – as being “lawful albeit unprecedented” but the second part of the attack – the impugned statements in the press release – as being personally defamatory and unlawful.

She told the court in writing Mr Town either knew the message in the press release was false or reckless as to its truth or falsity. “His objective was to derive a personal and professional benefit from the resulting defamation.”

Ms Bright says although she promptly advised Mr Town of the inaccuracy of the statements he refused to give the matter his full consideration and refused to issue a public retraction or apology.

The council’s chief executive said the press release was honest opinion and was covered by common law qualified privilege.

Mr Town’s lawyer Willy Akel says his client was responding to public attacks made on him and the council by Ms Bright. “Ms Bright’s allegation the council was singling her out for rates enforcement, in an unjustifiable response to her anti-corruption campaign meant the level of responsibility expected of Mr Town in the issue of the press release must be calibrated with regard to the strongly worded criticisms Ms Bright had been making of the council and himself.”

In throwing out Ms Bright’s defamation case Associate judge Warwick Smith says, “while one can imagine some defamatory statements where, for example, ill may be apparent from the choice of the defamatory words themselves, I do not think this is such a case. I do not consider that the use of the expression ‘wildly inaccurate’ to describe certain statements of Ms Bright, without more, comes close to supporting an inference that Mr Town was predominantly motivated by ill will towards Ms Bright.”

The judge says Mr Town had clear entitlement to respond robustly to the attacks Ms Bright had made on the council and himself and that merely repeating the statement and asserting that it was defamatory is not normally enough to defeat a defence of qualified privilege.

“If a hypothetical jury did conclude that Ms Bright’s statements were not “wild and inaccurate,” it might find that the words complained of were defamatory.

“However, that does not necessarily mean that it would also be open to the jury to conclude that Mr Town was predominantly motivated by ill will towards Ms Bright, or that he otherwise took improper advantage of the press release’s publication.”

Although Ms Bright was given time by the court to give amended particulars of her claim after the first hearing, Associate Judge Smith said it was clear qualified privilege gave Mr Town a complete defence and claims of ill will/improper taking advantage by Ms Bright were not arguable.

Penny Bright is one of those people who likes to chuck muck but doesn’t like it firing back at her. She is a total hypocrite.

This is the sort of thing she does to people:

Penny Bright protests Cameron Slater’s High Court Bid to block media from publishing information hacked from his Gmail and Facebook accounts including exchanges with accountants, doctors, lawyers and personal communication with his wife.

She doesn’t think a journalist and a private citizen has a right to privacy.

She also made this sign which clearly defames Act party members and John Banks:

She should be declared a vexatious litigant and stopped from wasting everyone’s, including the ratepayers, time and money.

Oh, and she should pay her rates.

 

– NBR

 


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