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Current as of 19/09/14 07:40PM NZST

Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Sky City benefits lost after mag called, court told

Auckland man Augustine Lau said he lost benefits worth $500 a week from SkyCity after Metro magazine published an article about him. File photo / NZPA
Auckland man Augustine Lau said he lost benefits worth $500 a week from SkyCity after Metro magazine published an article about him. File photo / NZPA

An Auckland businessman, who says he made $500 a week "tax-free spending money" from gambling at Sky City as well as free accommodation and a car park, has launched defamation action against an award-winning journalist and is blaming her for his casino benefits being cut off.

Augustine Lau, who used to work for real estate firm Ray White, has launched legal proceedings against Metro publisher ACP Media and its editor-at-large Donna Chisholm.

These followed the publication of a story in Metro last November which alleged Lau engineered a complex system to make money for him and Asian property investors.

The story, written by Chisholm, was promoted on the cover of Metro as "Auckland Property Scam Exposed".

In February, Lau filed a claim against ACP and Chisholm for alleged defamation because Metro used the word "scam" rather than "suspected scam".

The case was discussed before Associate Judge John Faire in the High Court at Auckland yesterday, where the defendants' lawyer Davey Salmon applied to have Lau's claims struck out.

Salmon said the claims could not survive in their present form.

Lau represented himself in court yesterday and said he wouldn't have been there if Metro had used the words "suspected scam".

"If they say 'suspected scam', I cannot do anything," he said.

Lau has also alleged he was defamed by Chisholm calling him an Amway "salesman".

Amway is an American company that allows third parties to buy wholesale health and beauty products and then sell them at retail prices.

Lau told the court he was not a salesman, but was an Amway "independent business owner".

As well as his defamation claims, Lau is seeking damages from the defendants after they allegedly "intervened" in his relationship with Sky City.

Lau said he would get at least $500 a week on average "tax free spending money" from Sky City, a free car park and occasional free accommodation.

He claims these benefits were revoked when Chisholm allegedly contacted Sky City and the plaintiff told the court yesterday he was now restricted from going onto Sky City properties for two years.

This meant Lau could not no longer take his business clients there, he said.

Although it was not made clear during the hearing how Lau would get the $500 a week, he told the Herald outside court that it was from gambling at the casino.

Together with defamation claim, Lau alleged Metro breached the Privacy Act and his "copyright" by taking a photo of him in a car park of his "training centre" without his permission.

Salmon refuted all of Lau's allegations and Associate Judge Faire reserved his decision on the strike out application.

Earlier yesterday Lau applied for a summary judgement in his case, but his application was denied by the judge. who said it was "fatally flawed".

Sky City would not comment on the case.

- NZ Herald

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