Some are calling it a victory for Collins, others for Little and Mallard. Eddie and Anthony Robins at The Standard call it for the Labour MPs, while David Farrar calls it for Collins.
It might be tempting to call the whole thing a messy draw, and I would have been tempted to call it that way, had I not seen footage on TV3 tonight of Judith Collins defiantly telling journos outside the High Court this morning that she was seeking an acknowledgement that she had been defamed, an apology, and costs.
Instead she got this:
The parties continue to differ over whether the remarks made by Messrs Mallard and Little respectively on Radio New Zealand implied the minister falsely assured the House that neither she nor her office was responsible for the leak. Messrs Mallard and Little have confirmed to Ms Collins that was not their intention and wish to make that clear publicly and in the event such meaning was taken, they regret it.If that's an apology, then I'm Paul Henry. Because it looks remarkably like the sort of apology offered up by that broadcaster from time to time whenever he has caused gross offence to someone. Mallard and Little are effectively saying "I'm sorry you were offended", rather than "I'm sorry we said that." To some people an "apology" like that would just add to the pain. If someone said to me "Imperator Fish is to satire what drinking is to driving" and then said "oh, I'm sorry you took offence at that", I would probably think the person saying it was worthy of my lasting contempt.
I am not a defamation law expert, but then nor are most of the bloggers and commentators who have been opining for months that Collins was clearly defamed. Most of them aren't even lawyers, but it hasn't stopped many from boldly predicting a crushing victory by Collins, even though most lawyers with any experience in the area of civil litigation could have told them that the case was likely to be a tricky one and would in any event probably settle at some point.
Collins' lawsuit was ill-advised and offered high risk for little reward. In settling the matter as she has she has salvaged something from the mess, but it ain't no victory.