Confession time – when I heard that Judith Collins was suing Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little and Radio NZ for defamation I wondered if it would be better to let the matter drop.
Such is the low esteem in which most politicians are held, it’s not easy for them to prove their reputations have been damaged and I thought the suit was a waste of time and money.
Such plaintiffs serve the public interest in upholding the integrity of public debate. If there is no sanction for lying in the exercise of free speech, a kind of Gresham’s law may prevail. The person determined not to lie may be destroyed by the colour and effectiveness of ever bigger lies.
It’s very easy for MPs to insult someone’s integrity but that doesn’t make it right. It could be seen as a form of bullying and the best way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them.
They are probably hoping she’ll back down, but she’s said she’s continuing with the defamation case and she’s using her own money to do so.
Even if the Cabinet manual allows for public funding of law suits of this nature, I don’t think it would be the best use of scarce funds and am pleased the Minister will be paying her own way.