Waikanae couple Vince and Raechel Osborne, who made the news last year over their old, large macrocarpa hedge, the lower street-side area of which the council wanted to cut back, understandably did not appreciate Mayor Guru’s comments in the two local newspapers and on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint last year in which he described them as “blackmailers”.
Through their lawyers they invited him to retract and apologize, but he declined to do so.
Now they are taking Guru to court over it, seeking $50,000 in damages plus costs.
Our feeling is that it’s unlikely to go well for Guru: the two standard defenses in the Defamation Act are 1. truth; and 2. honest opinion. The latter covers a big range of possible descriptions, but blackmailers isn’t one of them.
According to today’s article in the Kapiti Independent News :-
Gary Simpson, KCDC Acting Chief Executive, says: “Should the Osbornes claim be successful, costs associated with this matter will be covered by the Council’s insurer.
“The Council has insurance cover that responds to defamation claims.”
It’s certainly more good business for the council’s Auckland-based lawyers who for no good reason get paid huge amounts of ratepayers money every year (see earlier OIA responses). One wonders whether they deliberately gave former council boss Mr Dougherty bad advice as a way of keeping their revenue flow coming. There is ample evidence to support that contention.
Watch this space.