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Bob Jones was 'insulted' by Chris Lee article, High Court defamation trial told:

Tuesday 11th May 2010

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Robert Jones, the property magnate and some-time political party leader, was “insulted” by a 2007 article written by financial adviser Chris Lee, the High Court in Wellington was told today.  

Jones’ lawyer, Michael Reed QC, told the court that Lee’s CityLife newspaper article was “wrong” in claiming Jones’ management fee at Robert Jones Investments was 8% of gross assets when it was actually 8% of gross income. The report characterised the high-profile property manager as a “rich old man” who benefited from the management contract at the firm, now called Trans-Tasman Properties, by growing the assets of the company.  

“The article was incorrect, though it’s up to you to judge how hurtful it was to Sir Robert,” Reed told jurors in the first High Court civil jury trial in Wellington for four years. Outlining Jones’ case, Reed said Lee resisted apologising for the alleged defamation, saying it was “up to the courts to decide.”

Five months after the original article, Lee posted a correction in his Taking Stock newsletter, though this was not picked up by CityLife, according to Reed. 

“That correction avoids the slur against Sir Robert” that he profited excessively from the management contract through the 1980s, Reed said.  

Lee hasn’t had the chance to make his defence or respond to the allegations and must wait until Jones’ side has finished its case. 

Jones’ reputation with his tenants was diminished by Lee’s article, Reed said, and the financial adviser had previously published an incorrect article claiming Jones had been prosecuted for insider trading, for which he subsequently apologised.  

Reed told the court that Lee characterised himself as a share broker, though he didn’t actually act as a broker. Rather, he provided advice to many retired investors who put their money into finance companies, some of which “no longer exist or are in moratorium,” Reed said.  

The trial is scheduled for five days.  

 

 

 

Businesswire.co.nz



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