30 Aug 2017

School librarian must apologise after defaming principal, court rules

7:54 pm on 30 August 2017

A former school principal was defamed by the school's librarian and her husband, the High Court has found.

The decade-long dispute started after the Rai Valley Area School librarian, Faye Leov, believed she was being bullied by Loretta Newton, the principal at the time.

After both left the school over the dispute, Mrs Leov and her husband Bernard Leov commissioned a book in 2012 about the alleged serial bullying and destructive behaviour.

After a nine day judge-alone trial at the High Court in Blenheim, Justice Collins has found the pair sent out defamatory statements about Mrs Newton in letters to about 50 people seeking material for the book.

He said it had divided the community.

In a New Zealand first, the judge asked the Leovs to send out corrections and apologies to Ms Newton and the original recipients, and also put it in the local papers.

If they did not do so, the pair would have to pay Mrs Newton $100,000 in damages.