In a March column for the National Business Review, political commentator Matthew Hooton suggested former New Zealand Parliament member Steven Joyce “engaged in unethical, dishonest and/or corrupt behaviour” when he was in Parliament (he retired last month). Now, Hooton is apologizing for that suggestion.
“Nothing in the column was intended to convey such suggestions, which would be untrue. I apologise to Mr Joyce for any harm caused as a consequence,” he wrote.
Joyce threatened a lawsuit over the column, and Hooton apologized and paid fees to settle the claim, according to the New Zealand Herald, which noted it now publishes Hooton as a columnist. Joyce told the Herald, “The particular article that Mr Hooton wrote I believed was defamatory, took a legal case and he’s decided to settle it, and that’s the apology that is being made today.”
New Zealand news site News Hub reported Hooton lost his columnist gig after the column.
National Business Review editor Todd Scott criticized Hooton on Twitter, writing that his column was “WAY OUT OF LINE & that’s why I fired him.” He tweeted that Hooton had asked NBR to “not back down, retract or apologise” for the column and commented that Hooton doesn’t “have the conviction of their public writing.”
“Although I publicly backed this contributor, he cut a deal to get himself off the hook without consultation with NBR,” he wrote. iMediaEthics has written to Hooton for a response to Scott’s claims.
iMediaEthics e-mailed Scott to ask for more information about cutting ties with Hooton and the publication of the original column. We also asked if there is a case against the National Business Review over the column. Scott e-mailed iMediaEthics, “I am not in a position to comment other than those I have made on Twitter. At this stage, I understand this is still an ongoing case.”
Although I publicly backed this contributor, he cut a deal to get himself off the hook without consultation with NBR. So much for “l’ll fight to the death your right to say it”! My personal view is @MatthewHootonNZ was WAY OUT OF LINE & that’s why I fired him. https://t.co/CgwGfqB4Rx
— Todd Scott (@ToddScottNBR) April 23, 2018