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The mother of a Sunday newspaper gossip columnist is suing her daughter's rival for defamation over a poison-pen letter.

Drew Glucina, the mother of Herald on Sunday columnist Rachel Glucina, is seeking $100,000 in damages from Bridget Saunders, who writes for the Sunday Star-Times.

The claim centres on accusations that Mrs Glucina was behind an anonymous letter sent to Saunders. The letter is understood to have contained a photomontage of Saunders.

Lawyers for the Sunday Star-Times, acting on behalf of Saunders, wrote to Rachel Glucina and the Herald on Sunday in February 2006 suggesting Mrs Glucina was behind the montage.

The lawyers said Saunders would obtain a restraining order if she received any further material.

Mrs Glucina's defamation claim centres on the legal letter and further alleges that Saunders repeated accusations she was behind the montage to people at social gatherings.

Rachel Glucina is not involved in the court action.

The case returned to the Auckland District Court this week for a judicial hearing on proceduralmatters.

"My client has brought a claim in which she believes she has been defamed and her reputation has been detrimentally affected," said Mrs Glucina's lawyer, Lawrence Herzog.

Contacted yesterday, Saunders said: "I actually thought the whole thing had faded away."

Told the case had been back in court on Wednesday, Saunders had "nothing more to say".

Her lawyer later said the claim was being defended.

Fairfax New Zealand, publisher of the Sunday Star-Times, which is named as second defendant, would not comment.

Drew and Rachel Glucina share a close relationship, co-owning apublic relations business calledPink PR, which has been involvedin campaigns for breast cancer awareness and research.

Glucina and Saunders battle it out each week for the best coverage of social events and exclusivecelebrity scandal.

Saunders has worked for the Star-Times since 2002, while Glucina arrived on the gossip scene in late 2005. Their performances are appraised each week and "gossip points" handed out by Metro magazine on its website.

If the defamation case goes to a full hearing, it is expected that some of the people written about in the gossip pages will be called as witnesses.

A source close to the case said yesterday that a hearing would involve "many well-known New Zealand names".

It is not the first time defamation action has come about between rival gossip columnists. Former Star-Times columnist Toni McRae sued Metro publisher ACP in 1994 over a reference to her in the magazine's Felicity Ferret gossip column.

A jury awarded McRae damages of $375,000 and she later settled for $100,000.