Veteran columnist Rosemary McLeod whose writings I enjoy and mostly agree with, chimed in today re my Maihi libel case.
Specifically, she complained that numerous people are defamed on social media but can’t afford to do anything about it. “Access to justice is for the rich” she said, citing my case.
But note this. She then added “Jones has a history of litigation”.
I’m sure she didn’t mean the conventional pursuit of trade debts by my company over the past 60 years.
Let me repeat her assertion. “Jones has a history of litigation”, the obvious inference being that I was the plaintiff.
Prior to Ms Maihi I’ve sued in Court precisely one individual over the past 60 years, that after he wrote that a transaction involving me was the greatest commercial scam in New Zealand history.
In my evidence I said I’d have agreed with this had his facts been right. Specifically, he’s (mistakenly) overstated the amount involved by an extraordinary 1200%. Both the Judge and jury couldn’t hide their contempt for him and awarded me a substantial amount. That sole case amounts, according to Rosemary, to “a history of litigation”.
Is an apology from Rosemary forthcoming do you think? Don’t hold your breath.
Journalists seem to feel they have a license to libel and take umbrage when pursued for it.
Consider this. In the late 1980’s the Australian Financial Review ran a 2 page feature on companies being late issuing Half Yearly Reports. It concluded saying of the 8000 listed companies, by far and away the worst offender is RJI.
In fact we’d been the first to issue a Half Yearly report, shareholders having received it 2 days after the financial year date. Furthermore, being a hard covered glossy publication it was easily the best of the 8000 companies’ efforts.
An apology? Come on.
Or the unmissed Auckland Star which about the same time also wrote a 2 page feature on listed companies using unjustified Stock Exchange announcements as publicity devices. And again, by far the worst offender, the rag asserted, was RJI.
At the time we were arguing with the Stock Exchange boss Roger Gill, he complaining because we’d never issued a single Stock Exchange announcement.
An apology? Yeah right.
A month elapsed and our share-price suddenly surged. Roger wrote saying this was an appropriate moment for a chairman’s explanatory Stock Exchange announcement.
I sent one saying “the recent spike in our share-price was solely due to the Stock Exchange’s CEO, Roger Gill’s, frenzied personal purchasing of our shares.” Always a good sport Roger released it with an appropriate witticism in response.
The media are forever asserting the importance of their function demands an immunity from libel laws. The day they begin acknowledging their errors is the day they might make some headway in this quest.
Mindful of that I’ll keep readers informed on Rosemary’s response, or, non-response.