NZS Weekly, one of the country’s oldest newspapers, has been hit by a defamation lawsuit brought by an alleged “patron” of one of its journalists, who alleges the paper made a profit from the newspaper’s coverage of a major corruption scandal.
In court documents filed on Monday, the alleged patron, James M. Hynes, claims the paper “was a profit centre for Mr Maitland”.
The lawsuit claims the newspaper made “a significant amount of money” from a story it ran on a property that the Herald-Tribune owned and that was used to help fund a series of high-profile government advertisements.
Hynes is seeking unspecified damages and legal costs.
The Herald-Times says it has not been served with the suit.
A spokesperson for the Herald’s editor-in-chief, Simon Reynolds, said he was aware of the case but would not comment on it.
“As the Herald is a commercial organisation, we have a number of contracts that we enter into with commercial partners,” Reynolds said.
“We have a relationship with the company that is owned by the Herald Tries and we have contracts with other companies to run the paper.”
In the suit, Hynes alleges that the newspaper “provided a platform” for him and other journalists to cover the alleged “puppet masters” and that he was “given the opportunity to make a profit”.
“The plaintiff is seeking damages and an injunction preventing any further publication of the plaintiff’s allegations and the plaintiff has made a substantial number of factual allegations that are wholly and completely without foundation and have been made without any regard to their veracity,” Hynes’ lawyer, Daniel Luscombe, wrote in the lawsuit.
“The court should grant Hynes relief, and in so doing, it should order the defendants to pay the plaintiff the costs of the suit.”
Hynes says the Herald Tribune was a major advertiser for the paper, which “was actively engaged in an investigation into corruption”.
He also claims that Hynes was “peddled with gifts and gifts” from “some of the corrupt politicians and their associates”.
“There is no basis for the defendant’s claim that Mr Hynes engaged in any wrongdoing,” the lawsuit said.
“Hynes has made it very clear that he has no interest in any criminal charges and that no charges will be laid against him.”
Hynsdall, who has been with the newspaper for more than 50 years, says the suit is a “political attack” on his character.
“This is a blatant attempt to smear the character of a journalist who has devoted so much of his life to this paper,” Hynsdal said.
Hynsdall said the suit was “not an attack on me”.
“This case is about an investigation that was underway in this city and I was one of a number that was part of that investigation,” he said.
“The defendants were seeking to undermine that investigation.”
The suit alleges that Hynsdon was given a “significant amount of funding” to “conduct the investigation”.
“Hynson’s allegations were untrue and untrue allegations were made against me,” Hylson wrote in his lawsuit.
The suit said Hynes “was not a person of integrity”.
“Mr Hynes has never been charged with any crime.
Hynson has no knowledge of any criminal activity.
Hylsson’s conduct was entirely lawful,” the suit said.
The Herald-Sun says it is not a party to the suit and has not seen the complaint.
“We have no comment on the matter,” a spokesperson said.
In a statement, Hynssdall defended his reporting.
“I have worked in a number other newspapers over the years, and have seen firsthand how the journalism profession operates and what is required to maintain integrity in our industry,” Hysdall wrote.
“But, as the newspaper of record, the Herald Sun, has a history of integrity that stretches back to when it was founded in 1888, and is one of New Zealand’s most trusted and trusted newspapers.”