Broadcaster’s defamation claim, filed after the fallout from a Roast Busters interview, is sent to arbitration.
Broadcaster John Tamihere's $620,000 lawsuit against RadioLive's owner in the wake of last year's Roast Busters scandal has been put on hold by a High Court judge and sent to an arbitration behind closed doors.
Mr Tamihere says he is still mulling over whether to accept the decision or to appeal it.
The Roast Busters were a group of young men who wrote comments on social media claiming to have engaged in sexual acts with underage and intoxicated girls.
During the scandal last year, Mr Tamihere and RadioLive co-host Willie Jackson were taken off air after they conducted a controversial interview with a young woman called Amy who said she went to school with alleged victims of the gang.
Mr Tamihere and Mr Jackson asked her why the schoolgirls had been out late at night drinking. They also asked her at what age she lost her virginity.
After widespread complaints about the interview, the duo's show was taken off air for the rest of the year. RadioLive's owner MediaWorks then decided not to renew Mr Tamihere's contract, which expired at the end of December last year.
Halfway through December, RadioLive owner MediaWorks announced Alison Mau would be joining Mr Jackson for a new show.
Mr Tamihere alleges this announcement - as well as a statement from when his show was taken off air - defamed him.
During a High Court hearing this year, Mr Tamihere's lawyer said the focus of the defamation claim was the alleged innuendo underlying the statements.
As well as the defamation claim, Mr Tamihere is suing MediaWorks for breach of contact. He claims it was agreed last November he would return to RadioLive in 2014.
MediaWorks denies any arrangement was reached. Mr Tamihere's action against the company is seeking $620,000 in damages.
But MediaWorks in June applied to the High Court to put Mr Tamihere's action on hold, saying the subject under dispute was covered by an arbitration clause in the talkback host's contract.
Mr Tamihere disagreed but Justice Simon France said in a judgment this month that the subject fell within the arbitration agreement. He put the court action on hold and MediaWorks was entitled to recover costs from Mr Tamihere for its application.
"The arbitration agreement does not exclude any particular type of dispute and a claim of defamation is capable of resolution through arbitration," Justice France said.
During arbitration, the parties can appoint one person or a panel to make a binding decision on a dispute.
Mr Tamihere yesterday said it would have been better for the parties to air the dispute in open court.
"I'm still working out whether I should go to arbitration or go to appeal. Either way they have accepted there is a grievance to be aired and we are heading to arbitration on it as opposed to open court."
Mr Tamihere said he still had "plenty of time" to lodge an appeal.
additional reporting: Steve Deane