11 May 2010

Accused admitted errors in Jones article, court told

8:50 pm on 11 May 2010

A man accused of defaming businessman Sir Robert Jones wrote a correction and admitted there were errors in the article at the heart of the accusation, a Wellington jury has been told.

Sir Robert has taken the High Court defamation case against Kapiti Coast investment adviser and writer Chris Lee.

The article criticised management contracts and referred to a contract between Robert Jones Holdings and Robert Jones Investments.

In 2007, Mr Lee wrote that Robert Jones Investments had paid 8% of its gross assets to Robert Jones Holdings as a management fee, but the fee was in fact 8% of the company's gross income.

Michael Reid, QC, who acts for Sir Robert said the article suggested that his client had grown the assets of the investment company to bump up the fee, and the slur in the article was obvious.

Mr Reid told the court if people thought Sir Robert was ripping people off, it could affect his ability to attract tenants to his properties.

He said the statements were gratuitously insulting and hurtful and had the power to damage Sir Robert's business and reputation.

No reference was made to what amount of damages might be sought if the defamation is proved.