The highest court in New Zealand has again dismissed claims by the family of the late Earl Hagaman that the hotelier was defamed by then-Labour leader Andrew Little.
The Hagaman family sued Mr Little a year ago for more than $2 million over statements he made regarding a $100,000 donation to the National Party in 2014. The contract was awarded a few weeks after Hagaman donated $101,000 to the National Party during their 2014 election campaign.
Scenic Circle founder Mr Hagaman had started in partnership with friend Ralph Brown in 1980 when they bought their first hotel on the South Island's West Coast - the 48-room Graham Motor Inn, now the 130-room Scenic Hotel Franz Josef.
In September 2016, the Auditor-General said that from the information available, there had been a "standard procurement process, with reasoned and documented analysis for the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the hotel operator for the resort and for the subsequent investment of New Zealand worldwide development assistance funds in expanding the resort".
Mr Hagaman's widow tried to continue the case, taking it to the Court of Appeal. Although formal steps were not taken to substitute Mr Hagaman's personal representatives as appellants, they were responsible for the conduct of his appeal in the Court of Appeal and the same applies in relation to the present application.
The top court also considered the way the Court of Appeal dealt with questions to the jury at the trial stage.
At the Court of Appeal stage, a decision delivered by president Justice Stephen Kos said it had to decide whether the jury's answer about a particular part of the suit - the second cause of action - amounted to a verdict. Ms Hagaman made the application on behalf of her husband who died last May.
"Given Parliament's intervention in the Law Reform Act and its clear decision to preserve the rule in relation to defamation, we do not see this as an argument that has sufficient likelihood of success to justify the grant of leave", the court said. B The personal representatives of Mr Hagaman must pay costs of $2,500 to the respondent. "Mr Little will have no further comment at this time".