8 May 2004

Defamation persistent, claims lawyer for Cook Islands MP

9:47 am on 8 May 2004

The lawyer acting for Cook Islands MP, Norman George, says his defamation case is for a large sum because of the persistent claims made against him.

John Samuels, who's based in Auckland, says the local newspaper repeatedly alleged that there was corruption in the dealings to assist a convicted New Zealander, Mark Lyon, get residency in the Cook Islands.

Lyon paid the equivalent of US$95,000 into Mr George's account as a bond.

Those being targeted by legal action for millions of dollars include Elizabeth Ponga of the Concerned Citizens Group who claims that Mr George's lawyer is not allowed to practice in the Cooks.

But Mr Samuels says this is incorrect.

"I've got the appropriate entry permits; there's nothing in the Law Practitioners' Act talking about a development investment board. I'm not a company, I'm a firm."