Former Finance Minister Steven Joyce has been awarded $269,000 in solicitor and client costs after successfully suing The National Business Review and its publisher Todd Scott for defamation and marking a first in defamation-by-Twitter
Justice Pheroze Jagose heard the case last year and made the decision that Joyce had been defamed in respect of a column written by PR operator and columnist Matthew Hooton in early 2018 (who apologised and retracted his statement as well as making as $5000 payment in costs) but found that NBR and its publisher Todd Scott had separately defamed Steven Joyce.
The separate defamation involved tweets from Scott that were found to have defamed Joyce and are one of the first defamation cases against as public figure in New Zealand via Twitter.
It is the first defamation case lost by NBR, who are represented by Phil Ahern.
The parties had gone to mediation under the Defamation Act when Justice Pheroze suggested the offending column that suggested unethical and improper behavior and alleged ‘blackmail’ by Joyce could be defamatory, however NBR declined to publish any correction and a two day hearing found that both parties had defamed Joyce.
“They are meanings of sufficient seriousness, of Mr Joyce’s significant and self-serving impropriety, to climb above defamation law’s disregard of trivialities” the Judge said at the time.
“The meaning of those two tweets is the article is, or at least its defamatory imputations are, true, as based on ‘solid’ sources. As untrue, they also are defamatory of Mr Joyce, and at least to the same degree as the article.”