Labour leader Andrew Little could face a further trial after a jury was unable to decide on most defamation claims against him by hotelier Earl Hagaman.

In a partial victory, Little was cleared of defaming Lani Hagaman in any of the six instances the Hagamans had claimed he defamed them over.

However, the jury was unable to decide whether Little had defamed Earl Hagaman in most cases. For one of the six, it found by majority verdict that the comments were defamatory of Mr Hagaman, but the jury could not decide whether Little's defence of qualified privilege would apply so no verdict was possible.

Lani Hagaman leaves the Wellington High Court after a jury couldn't agree on whether Andrew Little defamed her husband on 5 charges. Picture / Mark Mitchell
Lani Hagaman leaves the Wellington High Court after a jury couldn't agree on whether Andrew Little defamed her husband on 5 charges. Picture / Mark Mitchell

The jury could find Little had lost his defence of qualified privilege it he was motivated by ill will or had abused the privilege.

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In a further three instances, the jury was hung on whether Little had defamed Mr Hagaman. One other instance was found to be defamatory, but not of Mr Hagaman.

Justice Karen Clark ruled in favour of Little in respect to the claims by Lani Hagaman but put down for further discussion the claims by Mr Hagaman.

The jury was considering six separate incidents which Earl and Lani Hagaman claimed were defamatory of them - one was a press release and the others comments Little made in media interviews.

They related to a $100,000 donation from Earl Hagaman to the National Party in 2014 and a hotel management contract at the Matavai resort in Niue for the Hagaman's Scenic Circle Group which was awarded a month later.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little leaving the Wellington High Court with his lawyer, John Tizard. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour Party leader Andrew Little leaving the Wellington High Court with his lawyer, John Tizard. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The jury returned its verdicts after more than 13 hours of deliberations - and just half an hour after Justice Karen Clark allowed them to reach verdicts by a majority of at least nine after they said they were unable to reach a unanimous decision.

Little was not in court for the verdicts but Lani Hagaman was.

The jury was considering six separate incidents which Earl and Lani Hagaman claimed were defamatory of them - one was a press release and the others comments Little made in media interviews.

They related to a $100,000 donation from Earl Hagaman to the National Party in 2014 and a hotel management contract at the Matavai resort in Niue for the Hagaman's Scenic Circle Group which was awarded a month later.

The jury returned its verdicts after more than 13 hours of deliberations - and just half an hour after Justice Karen Clark allowed them to reach verdicts by a majority of at least nine after they said they were unable to reach a unanimous decision.

Little was not in court for the verdicts but Lani Hagaman was. Prior to the trial Little had offered a payment of $100,000 and an apology to settle the case but that was rejected.

- Earlier, the Herald reported Little was guilty of defamation on one occasion. This has now been corrected and clarified in this story.