Hotelier Lani Hagaman says she will continue to pursue a defamation case against Labour leader Andrew Little on behalf of her husband Earl Hagaman, including going ahead with a retrial.

In a statement, Mrs Hagaman said she had been advised the court would automatically arrange for the a retrial after the jury in the first trial was unable to reach a verdict on several of the six claims of defamation lodged by Mr Hagaman.

"While Earl is still alive I believe that it is important that every effort is made to bring his claims to completion, and I intend to do so."

A defamation case is halted if the person claiming to be defamed dies and in the first trial, Mrs Hagaman said Mr Hagaman, 91, was ill and did not have long to live.


Mrs Hagaman also expected to appeal Justice Karen Clark's decision to grant Andrew Little the defence of qualified privilege - a defence Little said was because of his "moral duty" as leader of the Opposition to question the Government.

"Because the jury was unable to reach verdicts on several of Earl's claims, I am advised that the court now arranges automatically for those claims to be retried.

"The jury also reached a verdict that Earl was defamed by Andrew Little. However, contrary to the finding of the court on qualified privilege, my legal advice continues to be that Mr Little was not entitled to protection by that.

"As this matter remains unresolved, I believe it requires clarification."

After the trial last week, the jury was unable to reach a decision on four of the six claims of defamation against Mr Hagaman.

The claims related to comments Little made in a press statement and media interviews about a $100,000 donation to the National Party and the awarding of a management contract for a hotel resort in Niue soon after.

The jury found by a majority verdict that Little had defamed Mr Hagaman in one instance - an interview in a One News broadcast - but was unable to decide whether Little had ceded his defence of qualified privilege so did not go on to consider damages.

It found by majority verdict that another claim was not defamatory and another was defamatory, but not of Mr Hagaman. It was unable to decide whether the remaining three instances were defamatory.


Mrs Hagaman had also claimed she was defamed on the same six occasions, but the jury found by majority verdict that she was not.

Labour leader Andrew Little said he had seen Mrs Hagaman's statement seeking a retrial.

"I have taken every opportunity to resolve this matter and I have faced up to my responsibilities."

He said his priority now was the election and issues such as housing and health.

"Fixing these problems means changing the Government and that is my focus.

"As this matter could be subject to further court proceedings, I will not be commenting further."