An Apology To Judith Collins

Dear Ms Collins,

Your threat to sue two MPs and one news outlet for defamation left me in a panic. Had I exposed myself to litigation? I had to rush back and read a number of my blogposts, in case the language I used might in any way have offended you.

You are clearly not a person to be messed with. I’m sure many of your colleagues admire your habitual aggression in dealing with your political opponents (and with any taxpayer-funded news outlets that get in the way), and you are certainly living up to your “Crusher” nickname. Finally. How many cars have you had crushed to date? Two? Three?

Naturally, some people might take exception to your actions, on the basis that you are using the legal system in an effort to squash any sort of public discussion of your role in the ACC scandal.

You do have a natural advantage over some of your opponents, what with being a senior lawyer and knowing the legal system so well. Goodness, you were a former Auckland District Law Society President, and New Zealand Law Society Vice-President.

So it’s understandable that you would fly to the law the moment someone challenged your version of events in the ACC scandal.

It’s also handy that you have the money to use the court system to your advantage, because your government has managed to all but destroy the legal aid system, and legal aid lawyers are becoming few and far between. Litigation is a rich man’s (and woman’s) sport.

I expect your lawsuit will cost you a pretty penny, even if you get mates’ rates. It will also cost your opponents thousands of dollars, even though for the life of me I can’t quite see what wrongs Mr Little and Mr Mallard committed against you. You clearly take your reputation seriously, and appear willing to pursue those who transgress against you in what appears at best to be a speculative lawsuit. Still, I suppose you know how the system works, and no doubt you’ll be hoping the defendants back down in the end.

I’d love to know exactly what wrong you think Radio New Zealand committed against you. They were merely the conduit through which the alleged defamatory remarks passed. Now you and I know that’s not necessarily a defence against defamation, but it’s still pretty tough on a public broadcaster struggling with a budgetary freeze. What were they meant to do? Pre-record all interviews and then submit all criticisms of your performance to your office for vetting?

So anyway, I am writing to apologise to you. For anything I may have ever said or done to offend you. For being critical of your performance and the performance of your government. For implying that the Key government habitually uses intimidation and legal processes to stifle political dissent.

Clearly your reputation is of such importance to you that no form of criticism can be countenanced. As one who has been critical of National and of your performance as a minister, this puts me at risk of being sued by you.

I don’t wish to be sued, so please accept my apology.