2 Dec 2015

John Key's lawyers in court over defamation suit

3:20 pm on 2 December 2015

Lawyers for Prime Minister John Key have been in court over a $1.25 million defamation suit filed against him.

Prime Minister John Key

John Key (file) Photo: AFP

Freelance journalist Bradley Ambrose is seeking damages from Mr Key.

Today in the High Court in Auckland, lawyers discussed a preliminary application to define issues for trial, but the hearing cannot be reported on for legal reasons.

Mr Ambrose was at the centre of the so-called teapot tape scandal, involving an audio recording before the 2011 election.

He was covering a meeting between Mr Key and John Banks - then ACT Party candidate for Epsom - at which the prime minister was effectively endorsing Mr Banks to Epsom voters.

Mr Key and Mr Banks posed for photographs at a cafe before heading inside for a cup of tea. Mr Ambrose's recording device was on the table and recorded the conversation.

When he filed his suit, Mr Ambrose said Mr Key made defamatory comments about him three times after the recording.

Documents filed in return for Mr Key said his comments were true and that they were his honest opinion.

A trial is due to begin next year.