Key Points:

Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard confirmed yesterday that Television New Zealand did not destroy tapes of interviews which are part of a defamation case.

Act leader Rodney Hide has said they were destroyed, but that he has copies. He tried this week to read out parts of a transcript of the tapes in Parliament, but he was not allowed to because the sub judice rule stops MPs talking about matters before a court.

The tapes are of interviews TVNZ reporters conducted in 2004 with Wayne Crapper, an employee of Simunovich Fisheries. At the time, the company was involved in a select committee inquiry into scampi quota. It was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The issue is on the fringe of the row about donations to New Zealand First, because there have been allegations that the party was given cheques on behalf of Simunovich Fisheries.

Mr Mallard issued a statement yesterday saying the defamation case involving Simunovich Fisheries and TVNZ was still "live" and therefore sub judice.

He said he had been advised that:

* In 2004 journalists from TVNZ interviewed Wayne Crapper, who made a number of allegations about Simunovich.

* TVNZ News and Current Affairs decided not to run the tapes as they could be defamatory.

* Simpson Grierson was holding about 28 tapes on behalf of TVNZ and no tapes had been destroyed.

"This matter is still sub judice," Mr Mallard said, "including part of the case currently before the Court of Appeal."

- NZPA