Leaked Joyce letter shows the hubris of the man

The legal letter Steve Joyce sent to Matthew Hooton and NBR has been leaked and shows the utter pettiness and vanity of the man:

The National Party’s chief political strategist since the mid-2000s, Steven Joyce, has announced his decision to retire from Parliament after new leader Simon Bridges did not offer him the finance spokesmanship in a shadow Cabinet reshuffle.

His move clears the way for Nicola Willis, a former Beehive adviser to John Key, to enter Parliament. While Joyce was offered a front bench rank in the opposition Bridges didn’t give him the finance role.

“I have had a wonderful time in this place over the last nearly ten years including nine years as a Minister, and have been privileged to be able to make a real contribution to the development of our country,” said Joyce in a statement. He said Bridges had offered him a front bench position.

I’ve been told that Joyce expected to remain as finance spokesman, but was offered something else and a ranking way below number 10 in the lineup. As a result he quit.

Meanwhile his legal letter threatening NBR and Matthew Hooton appears to have been leaked.

The announcement comes after a tumultuous few days for Joyce, during which he threatened to sue the National Business Review for defamation after it published a damning column on his performance in both the Economic Development and Finance portfolios under Prime Ministers John Key and Bill English.

Written by public relations consultant and some time National Party apparatchik Matthew Hooton, the column was “replete with erroneous assertions of fact and defamatory imputations, including that Mr Joyce has engaged, or is likely to engage, in illegal, unethical and corrupt behaviour,” says a March 2 letter sent to NBR publisher Todd Scott on Joyce’s behalf by Minter Ellison Rudd Watts partner Zane Kennedy, and obtained by BusinessDesk.

In comments to media and in Twitter posts, Scott says he decided to fire Hooton as a columnist prior to receiving the threat of defamation action, although he only informed Hooton of his decision after receiving the Minters letter on March 2, the day of the column’s publication, and then being contacted by the columnist on Saturday, March 3. Scott is reported as saying NBR will defend any action brought and that the decision to end Hooton’s column was part of a wider cull of NBR contributors to “cut fat” from his business.

Hooton announced on Facebook this afternoon that he will be writing a weekly column for the New Zealand Herald.

The letter disputes the column’s assertion that Joyce received only four votes in the party leadership contest won by Bridges, saying the claim was “simply untrue and deliberately understates the level of support for Mr Joyce in caucus”, saying there was “no means by which Mr Hooton could ascertain the level of support for Mr Joyce in any event”.

That’s rubbish, of course. The means exist with which to work out what his vote was. I concur with Matthew Hooton, as I also have the means to ascertain what the vote count was and anyone with basic maths skills plus a knowledge of factions within National could, likewise, work it out.

The Minters letter says the Hooton column conveyed “a number of imputations” including dishonesty, rudeness, and that he “considers himself superior to his colleagues in the National Party and is despised by them all” and that he was “incompetent and politically inept”.

All honestly held beliefs about Joyce, which I share.

The letter claims NBR’s decision to offer Joyce a right of reply prior to the column’s publication “suggested a misguided belief that a response from Mr Joyce could in these circumstances provide an antidote to the defamatory statements made in the article(s). The courts have long rejected this contention by publishers.”

By both informing Joyce of the forthcoming column and running it “despite sympathising with his position”, NBR had “aggravated the harm to Mr Joyce’s reputation,” the letter says. “NBR has knowingly and willingly ‘twisted the knife’.”

Steve Joyce has no thought about the harm that would come to National with a long list of subpoenaed MPs being forced on oath to declare who they voted for… because that is what will happen. The man is a fool fighting Matthew Hooton and NBR. He thinks the media are his mates, but they won’t be now, and certainly not after he resigned from parliament. He is of no consequence to the body politic now and just ends up looking like a whiny crybaby.

Newshub has reported Scott as saying NBR would be neither retracting nor apologising for the column, and would subpoena senior National Party MPs if the issue went to court.

All he has to do is subpoena the whips and the vote counters, but it will be much more fun calling various MPs and cross examining them.

Steve Joyce clearly hasn’t heard of Lange v Atkinson either. Good luck in court Steve, you are going to need it.


-Business Desk

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.