Brian Edwards Media

The Hotchin Affidavits – Four witnesses swear that Amanda Hotchin did not speak the damaging words attributed to her by the Sunday Star Times

On January 8 of this year I received an email from Amanda Hotchin. The email was in response to a post I had published on 16 May 2010, entitled Reflections on Not Caring in Hawaii. The post was highly critical of the Hotchins and in particular of a statement attributed to Mrs Hotchin in an article in the Sunday Star Times under the by-line of Jonathan Marshall. In the article Marshall reported having approached Mrs Hotchin at the property she and her husband were renting in Hawaii and having asked to speak to her husband, Mark.

According to Marshall, a conversation ensued in which Mrs Hotchin said, “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.” These words appeared in quotation marks and not as reported speech in Marshall’s report, indicating that they were the actual words spoken by Mrs Hotchin.

It was primarily on the basis of this quotation that I and others accused the Hotchins of being indifferent to the plight of thousands of Hanover investors, many of them elderly, who had lost their life savings when the company went under.

In her email to me, Mrs Hotchin claimed that she cared greatly about what happened to the investors and denied that she had ever spoken these words, or anything like them, to Jonathan Marshall. She continued:

The “quote” is pure fabrication. I have four sworn affidavits from people who were present or nearby when I told the reporter to leave the property. Two of those affidavits are from two Americans working on site at the request of the rental management company (who I do not know personally) who overheard our exchange and confirm I said nothing like what I was “quoted” as saying.  

Mrs Hotchin has since provided me with the four affidavits on the following conditions which I have accepted:

*You will not in any circumstances publish any copies of the affidavits or release any copies of the affidavits to anyone; and

*You will not publish, or otherwise release to anyone, the names of the people who provided the affidavits.

 *

 There are four affidavits. Two are from the Americans, referred to in Mrs Hotchin’s original email to me. Not in the Hotchins’ employ, they  were working in a garage next to the gates to the property at the time of Jonathan Marshall’s arrival.

All four signatories to the affidavits are in agreement that the following sequence of events took place:

Marshall approached the gates to the rented property. The two Americans working in the garage, who did not recognise him, asked him what he wanted. Marshall said he had come to speak to Mark.

The workers assumed from the familiar use of Hotchin’s first name that Marshall was a friend and opened the gates to let him in.

Amanda Hotchin, who was sitting beside the pool with her husband, spotted Marshall, whom she did not know, coming up the drive. Since her husband had previously been told there was a journalist in Hawaii trying to track him down, she assumed this was the journalist and hurried down to meet him. She loudly called to him to “Get off the property”.

Marshall said he wanted to speak to Mark, but Hotchin had by then gone into the house. Approaching Marshall, Mrs Hotchin again told him to get off the property.

Marshall eventually began walking towards the gate. He asked Mrs Hotchin whether she knew what was being written in the papers. She said she didn’t care what he had to say, refused to engage in any further conversation and continued telling him to get off the property.

The two Americans who had overheard this exchange also told Marshall to leave the property. One opened the electric gates to let him out.

Once outside the gates, Marshall produced a camera from a satchel he was carrying and started taking photographs.

The signatories to the four affidavits are in agreement that these events took no more than a few minutes.  They  are in agreement that at no point while he was on the property, did Marshall take any notes or produce a tape recorder or other recording device.

One of the four signatories says she  did not hear Amanda Hotchin say the words quoted in the Sunday Star Times article or anything like those words. The other three signatories state positively that Mrs Hotchin did not say those words or anything like those words.

*

So did Amanda Hotchin say to Jonathan Marshall,  “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.”? Or did she not? The answer to the question is important for several reasons.

If she did say these words:

Then some at least of the public criticism which was directed at her after publication of the SST story,  will have been justified;

She will have no grounds to complain about Marshall’s reporting.

All four signatories to the affidavits will be liable to prosecution since it is a criminal offence to knowingly swear or affirm a false affidavit.

If she did not say these words:

Then she is entitled to an apology and retraction from the Sunday Star Times or  to seek redress through the courts;

Mr Marshall’s credibility as a journalist will be undermined as will the reliability of his reporting in this and other articles;

The reputation of the Sunday Star Times for fair and accurate reporting will also be called into question.

The matter can, however, be quickly resolved.

It would be entirely irresponsible for a journalist to cite verbatim – by placing it in quotation marks – a reasonably lengthy response from an interviewee that he had not written down or electronically recorded at the time.

At the time of his exchange with Amanda Hotchin there appears to have been no opportunity for Marshall to make written notes as he was being shooed off the property. Immediately after leaving the property he began taking photographs. If he did not have a hidden recording device, he must therefore have relied on perfect recollection of  Mrs Hotchin’s words, in order to quote them verbatim.

If, on the other hand, he did have a hidden recording device, the Sunday Star Times should put this matter to rest by producing the recording. 

I invite the Sunday Star Times to produce either Marshall’s written notes of the exchange with Amanda Hotchin or his recording of that exchange, if it indeed exists.

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70 Comments:

  1. Seems as though the Sunday Star Times and Jonathan Marshall are ducking and weaving for cover on this one. Doesn’t look very good for them at all.

    Here we have affidavits saying Mrs Hotchin did not say those things. And nothing from Marshall.

    If the Sunday Star Times has any integrity then an apology should be forthcoming this weekend. Anything less will be a travesty.

  2. I’m puzzled as to why Mrs Hotchin has not lodged a formal complaint with the newspaper, and then if she does not get satisfaction, complain to the Press Council.

    BE: I don’t know the answer to that. It’s certainly too late now. And, as I’ve suggested before, the Press Council’s powers are severely proscribed. The newspaper must publish their findings, but that is as far as it can go. Going to the Press Council also prevents you from taking subsequent legal action.

  3. The integrity of the SST is at stake. I would wonder why Mrs Hotchin should have to take a case as David Farrar suggests. Surely it would be up to the SST to clarify/explain/justify their position or are they just hoping to out-wait Mrs Hotchin?

  4. yeah yeah, but even if she didn’t say it, you can bet it’s exactly what she was thinking….

    BE: On what evidence would you be making that bet? And would it be OK for a journalist to quote something a person hadn’t said but the journalist thought that person was thinking?

  5. Whatever the truth of the matter, I still find it deplorable that the Hotchins continue to live it up, while many others flounder in poverty due to their actions.

    BE: All right. But their assets have been frozen by the Securities Commission while the affairs of the company are being investigated. In the interim they are allowed to take $1,000 a week to live on and pay their bills with. What else should be done while they and we wait for the results of those investigations.

  6. Methinks the lady doth protesteth too much. Only the four affidavits then? Maybe if Mark came back and fronted up on a few things here in NZ this ‘what she said/didn’t say’ story would fade away. Can’t say I’m impressed with a man who hides inside while his wife shoo’s the nasty reporter away either.

    BE: Don’t quite follow your comment ‘Only the four affidavits then.’ Are you suggesting that Mrs Hotchin should have collected affidavits from people who weren’t there and didn’t hear what was said?

  7. The frozen assets are the nz ones only.Asking for the Porche to take the children to school really didnt sit well with me.I agree with Gary the statement is only a peripheral matter.The sooner the SFO puts this one to bed the better for all involved.I agree that the standard of reporting doesnt appear to be acceptable.Hopefully the truth will prevail.

  8. Let’s stick to the facts. Jonathan Marshall from the Sunday Star Times seems to have made the whole story up in order to get a head-line.

    Amanda has responded, appropriately, by clearly stating what occured when Marshall confronted them. Going to the Press Council is a complete waste of time and offers no real remedy. Taking a legal case against Marshall and the Sunday Star Times may well be an option, but why should they?

    In light of all the media surrounding the Hotchin family why would you want more media intrusion by opening up another legal battle. Plus all that would achieve is giving more column inches to the troubled Sunday Star Times.

    She’s done the appropriate and right thing.

    BE: That seems very reasonable to me. There’s certainly a lynch mob mentality out there that seeks to include not only the directors of Hanover and other finance companies, but their families as well. It seems to me that a distinction ought to be drawn between the two. That said, I don’t think we can claim that Marshall ‘made the whole story up.’ The affidavits are firm that Amanda Hotchin did not say what Marshall quotes her as having said. We’re waiting for the SST or Marshall to prove otherwise.

  9. Why did it take so long for the affadavits to surface?

  10. Well said bigjed!

  11. Some thoughts: How do we know the affidavits are legitmate? Presumbly you have contacted the people who swore them in order to verify? Also why are we fixated on this point anyway when the real issue is – as BE has referred to – whether Amanda is a legitimate target for criticism in the whole Hanover saga? This latest round of lobbying the ever sympathetic Brian (no offense intended) though, certainly paints her as a shrewd/clever woman and one might surmise she may well be receiving significant legal and PR assistance, if not assistance from Mark too, in these efforts

    BE: There is no question as to the legitimacy of the affidavits. As to Mrs Hotchin being ‘a shrewd, clever woman’ and ‘lobbying’, publication of her original letter and of the affidavits was initiated by me and not her. She was extremely reluctant to take this course.

  12. Actually thinking about it, why wouldn’t she want to publish the providers or contents of the affidavits if they were in fact legit? Doesn’t really stack up does it?

  13. I think Amanda Hotchin should sue for defamation, she would have an excellent chance of winning and could be fully re-imbursed for the damage to her good name and reputation. She might be disappointed by the value that a court would put on that – she already knows the value in the court of public opinion.

    I’m not sure this is the best example to use to push the argument for better journalistic ethics, a more sympathetic victim is required.

    BE: Defamation actions are costly, enormously protracted and are little more than a lottery in terms of the actual result. Mrs Hotchin would no doubt face the same sort of prejudice evident in many of the comments about the Hotchins on this site. Your last comment is a good one except that this is not an argument for better journalistic ethics in general, but, if the affidavits reflect the truth, for considerably better journalistic ethics in this particular case.

  14. Jonathan Marshall is the same so-called journalist who was sacked by Queer Nation in 2003 for stalking Mike Hosking and taking photos of his twin daughters. He struck again in 2008 when he outed a married man in a Sunday News article for his past as a porn actor, reporting on the call he made to the man’s new wife who knew nothing about it, and telling the man’s new employer. This caused the man to lose his job and he said at the time that Marshall had ruined his life. Marshall is probably better suited to a career as a paparazzo in another country far, far away from here.

  15. Brian, you say Amanda isn’t necessarily lobbying or shrewd etc – but according to you the sending of the original letter to you was all Amanda’s idea and hers alone – and so the ball started rolling. However, I’m pleased you have verified the authenticity of the affidavits and its providers – that wasn’t clear before

    BE: Since Mrs Hotchin’s original email was addressed to the site, I assumed it was for publication. That may not have been her intention. Since then she has been clear about what she intends for publication and what not. A very sensible practice which we encourage in our media training courses.

  16. It’s also quite difficult to work out how weighty 4 affidavits are without knowing how much of the conversation the people were in a position to hear and any potential bias in the affidavits by virtue of their relationship to the Hotchin’s. Brian – can you help out without breaching the protocols you agreed to , but which are not yet explained, of Mrs Hotchin? Or was the purpose of the protocols to create this exact difficulty?Seems to me Mrs Hotchin and her team would be better advised actually doing something real to help all the investors that have had their money transformed into either hot air or the now frozen assets of others

  17. Whilst having sympathy for the 100,000 plus investors in the 60 plus finance companies who have all lost money, it seems to me unreasonable to target one man and now his wife as the cause of so much misery.

    How about hounding Greg Muir, Tipene O’Regan, also Hanover Directors or Strategic, St Laurence, MFS directors. They are equally culpable in my eyes.

    From what we have seen Hotchin has fronted up whilst Eric W sips champers in London…..Debt swap, Prepayment plan and I think the original moratorium announcement all Had Mr H fronting up.

    BE: Indeed. It’s also worth reminding people that, while one can be sympathetic to the investors who have lost so much money, one common factor between them and the directors of these companies was greed.

  18. Ruth, you seemed very determined to criticise Amanda and the credibility of the affidavits. You’re not Jonathan Marshall in drag are you?

    Seriously, the issue is around ensuring that what is reported in the media is accurate. Everything else is a sideshow. If Jonathan Marshall has a tape of the conversation then it is incumbent on him to produce them to clear this debate up. If he doesn’t, and the Sunday Star Times cannot back up the story, then the credibility of that paper is in question.

    Trevor’s comments are incredibly valid. The whole global financial crisis has impacted everyone. In NZ there were over 60 finance companies that failed = an industry wide situation. Let’s put some perspective on this. And keep this to the facts – did the Sunday Star Times have evidence of this comment or not???

  19. My 2c, for what it’s worth…

    (1) Affidavits mean nothing until they are tested in court. Preferably the people who swore them would give evidence in person.
    (2) I can understand why Amanda would be reluctant to complaint to the Press Council as she might not wish to waive her right to take legal action. However, given she hasn’t, in fact, taken legal action and doesn’t seem likely to, a Press Council decision that vindicated her would seem quite a sensible course of action. Why didn’t she pursue it? Too late now.
    (3) I can also understand that Amanda might think twice before pursuing a defamation case. They are lengthy, expensive, and the outcome is not at all certain. However, where the plaintiff is adamant the story is completely fabricated, most would immediately write to the publication and demand a retraction and apology. Most reasonable publications, with an eye to a potential future lawsuit, will (if they believe they are in the wrong) provide one, as it mitigates damages. As far as I’m aware, AH has not sent any such correspondence to the SST, preferring to run her “case” through Brian Edwards blog. Further, the SST printed a statement saying they stand by their story (they didn’t have to as they’d received no complaint) which seems unusually bullish. Odd.
    (4) Even if the allegedly quoted words weren’t said, it’s possible that the story wasn’t defamatory at all (it would be sloppy & unethical though, certainly). It’s possible a jury would decide that Amanda’s behaviour after the fall of Hanover demonstrated that she did not in fact care, and that she and her husband didn’t feel they had to justify their money to anyone. And thus that the allegedly fabricated quote did not lower AH in the estimation of right thinking members of society.

    BE: Your second point: It is now too late after publication for Mrs Hotchin to complain to the Press Council. Your last point: The story led to Mrs Hotchin being villified as a modern Marie Antionette, saying ‘Let them eat cake!’ I would have thought that would lower her in the eyes of ‘right thinking people’.

  20. DLMMackie, I am not defending J Marshall. If his reporting is unfair or sloppy then he deserves criticism. Where you and I differ is ove rthe issue of what really is the sideshow here? You think by defining the issue narrowly as to whether Amanda Hotchin’s exact words were correctly reported is the big story here, whereas I think that is the sideshow to the demonstrable let them eat cake behaviour that the Hotchin’s have exhibited while living the good life paid for courtesy of tens of millions of dividends from Hanover.

  21. Ruth and Gen,

    Your foolish tautologies, second guessing, and chasing after red-herrings also highlights a key reason why people think twice before engaging expensive, protracted, and emotionally-draining legal services to pursue defamation: You may end up with ‘peers’ with thinking skills like yours on the jury! And even if win, you still get inane witlessness like, “seems to me Mrs Hotchin and her team would be better advised actually doing something real to help all the investors…”

    …and thanks, Aroha, for your sane and sensible piece of background information – which, Ruth and Gen, you may notice contained relevant ‘facts’, with logical conclusions, rather than speculation.

    Put the pieces that are available together, and I’d suggest a certain credibility is starting to accumulate around Amanda Hotchin’s version of events.

    However, as BE has astutely noted, the ball is now well and truly in the court of the SST. I’ll be expecting something more substantial than some bland statement about “we stand by our reporter’s version of events” as they did last time. Perhaps an entire transcript from Jonathan Marshall’s recorded conversation, verified as to its contents by an affidavit from a disinterested and respected 3rd party.

    If the SST don’t front with that, then, Ruth and Gen, you can start joining the dots together. The SST went fishing for this, and no matter who or what Amanda Hotchin is, and who she is married to, the SST is required to get its facts right – no matter how unpopular some think Amanda Hotchin ‘deserves’ to be.

    But do please try and stay off juries, Ruth and Gen, and restrict your privilege of voting until you learn to exercise the prudence that should go along with the privilege…

  22. I am in broad agreement with BE on this one so far. I think Mrs Hotchin it is perfectly entitled to resist being unfairly demonised. I do take issue with the following however;

    BE: Indeed. It’s also worth reminding people that, while one can be sympathetic to the investors who have lost so much money, one common factor between them and the directors of these companies was greed.

    Greed is a very perjorative word. I think it is quite unfair to describe an investor seeking a higher return than that offered by the banks as “greedy”. Basically it is a question of risk versus reward. In general an investor seeking, say, 8%pa instead of 6%pa would recognise they were accepting a little more risk. Unfortunately in the case of NZ Finance companies at least, the actual increased risk turned out to be huge, and should have been accompanied with a much greater risk premium.

    It is easy to sit back and say that everyone should just put their money in the bank. But this is really just showing the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. For a start, banks offer lower risk and lower rewards, but don’t offer zero risk at all. Read Dr Bollard’s book and you’ll realise how close we came to a global meltdown that would have swept away your bank deposits as well. Banks aren’t magic institutions, they don’t stash your money in a safe ready to give it back to you. They in fact reinvest it, keeping only a small portion of the deposits as a cash reserve. Rather a lot like finance companies actually.

    Also, if everyone invested their money in the bank, the whole economic system would grind to a halt. It’s vital people invest money in existing and new businesses. This isn’t being “greedy”, it is participating in the economy.

    BE: ‘Hindsight’ has very little to do with it. A degree of common sense and basic financial understanding has a lot to do with it. Before all of this happened, banks were offering 8% and, according to the term of the investment, sometimes more. On say $200,000 that’s $16,000 p.a. interest before tax. On $500,000, $40,000 p.a. before tax. On $1,000,000 twice that. Pretty good terms. And, Dr Bollard notwithstanding, your money was relatively secure. If your position then was: that’s not enough, I’ll take the risk of investing all my life savings in a finance company to get an extra 2% or more (which many did), that’s just bloody stupid, and irresponsible and I’m going to stick with ‘greedy’. Both at a world level and here in New Zealand, tax-payers who acted sensibly and responsibly then are now paying for the greed and stupidity of others. That tends to erode one’s sympathy to a degree.

  23. Thank you Brian, I’m aware that it’s too late for a Press Council complaint. I noted as much in my second point.

    Fabrication of quotes is inexcusable. Because Mrs Hotchin has chosen not to take any of the avenues open to her for proving the quotes were fabricated, I guess we will never know.

    Luckily for you Kimbo, I am already ineligible for jury service!

  24. DLMMackie: “And keep this to the facts – did the Sunday Star Times have evidence of this comment or not???”

    Yes, that is the real crux of this topic. And aside from believing that BE’s efforts — in ensuring honest, accurate and balanced journalism — are assuming shades of chivalry towards Amanda Hotchin, he does feel that she has been misreported by the S-ST. I’m with him on this, to put a — putative — retort in quotation marks, the reader must presume it to be 100% correct; not 99.9%.

    Without question, the S-ST’s front-page prominence accorded to Jonathan Marshall’s Hawaiian sojourn, was to arouse and inflame readers’ passions against Amanda as well as her husband. I mean, the picture of her in that ballgown, bore a striking resemblance to an iridescent lemon meringue. A vapid fashion accoutrement for her husband. But in light of all the misery Hanover has inflicted upon so many people — can the paper be blamed for applying emotive shafts as to how it treated the Hotchins? How they were living high on the hog, oblivious to how they might be perceived — and reported upon? Was it that undeserving?

    Clearly, when Jonathan Marshall traipsed, unannounced, on to the Hotchin’s resort, there was an angry verbal exchange when he was shooed-off. In the ensuing verbal stoush, Amanda may have said something along the lines of, “I don’t care”, which Marshall may have seized upon and framed it in a context that served his purpose. Getting to Hawaii was an expensive assignment, and he needed to show a dividend for his efforts.

    But, I just hope, that this forum doesn’t appear as deus ex machina for Amanda. She may have been burned by the S-ST, but she’s no Joan of Arc.

  25. Brian

    You draw a long bow, I’m not ready to condem all those investors as greedy – badly informed, dumb or unlucky. There was the little factor of the world financial collapse-biggest in 70 years which people here seem to conveniently forget.

    That they invested in some of the businesses that were victims of that giant meltdown doesnt mean they are greedy.

    By your definition anyone who chooses not to keep there money in the bank is greedy.

  26. Merv – “can the paper be blamed for applying emotive shafts as to how it treated the Hotchins?”

    Nope. Good luck to them. But they need to make sure they get the facts right. And no, she definitely ain’t no Joan of Arc. But a crucial piece in the Marie Antoinette comparison seems a little shaky…hey! What is it with these metaphors of dead, tragic French Women?! Any buyers for the acronym DTFWs? (and yes, for the pedants like me, Antoinette was originally Austrian).

    …and, Gen, thanks for the good-natured response. Forgive me for my grumpiness. However, I suggest you are fixating on legal options the Hotchins have, or haven’t taken. However, there is seldom a direct connection between legal remedies and truth and justice, let alone public perception.

    For example, the advice that a lawyer would give to the Hotchins, as compared to someone like Brian Edwards Media is often very different – although they can overlap.

    As you can see by the nature of comments that Amanda Hotchin is attracting on this site (exhibit A: Merv and that lemon dress! Merv – you are priceless), most folks couldn’t care in the slightest what the legalities are. Instead, it is about buying-in to a narrative about greedy high-living parasites, which the SST kicked along courtesy of Jonathan Marshall’s story…

    BE: But the investors everyone is so sorry for now were perfectly happy to profit from those ‘greedy high-living parasites’, creating what you might call ‘a second tier level of parasitism’.

  27. Its quite obvious that Mark AND AMANDA are compassionate,caring people with exquisite taste.A big bash in Fiji,sojourn in Hawaii,complete with personal trainer,now jumping to the Gold Coast.Talk about lifestyles of the rich and infamous!When Hell pizza parked a sign outside Marks monument in Parasite Drive,he had no hesitation in issueing legal threats.These were of course paid for by Hanover(which had no money for investors).Regarding some of his previous company collapses,some redundant employees did say that Mark offerred to help anyone in serious financial difficulty.$100 if they needed groceries sort of style.Her also conceded his Fiji bash ,was ‘not a good look’.I suggest hiding behind his wife isn’t either.Affidavits from people he was paying?Will he get his just desserts…’one would hope so’!!

    BE: Hotchin was not paying any of the signatories to the affidavits. Nor is there any suggestion that he is ‘hiding behind his wife’.

  28. …not so sure I’d agree with your blanket application of the term ‘a second tier level of parasitism’, Brian.

    People’s motives, reasons, and imperatives for investing are often complex. Also, from what I understand, the returns on offer weren’t that fantastic. More a case of financially naive folk being sucked in by glossy brochures, the trappings of success (ironic laughter in light of the present perception of the Hotchins), and the cult-of-personality, which are all counter-productive to prudent investment. Which maybe proves the point that while good regulation and enforcement is required, the best safeguard against investor ruin is an educated public.

    However, I seem to remember I attracted a certain amount of flack last time I suggested that it you weren’t prepared to lose your money when you threw it into the Hanover pot, don’t invest, and don’t complain about his lifestyle now…

    Horrible for the folks who lost out, and they ‘deserve’ more sympathy, useless as it is, compared to Amanada Hotchin, no matter what injustices she may or may not be suffering from the SST. What is the saying? “The only place you find sympathy is in a dictionary, between ‘sh*t’, and ‘syphillis’.

    Sadly, no matter what the courts decide regarding Hotchin, there is nothing that will ever restore their loss. That, ironically, is a point Amanda Hotchin has made, which the SST may very well be exploiting. As this sort of fiasco happened before in the late 1980s, sometimes with the same cast, I’m increasingly cynical of the general public’s capacity to learn…

  29. …although, you do have a point, regarding 2nd tier parasitism, regarding who got targeted for high risk, 2nd tier and above loans, courtesy of the extra liquidity that was floating around from 2004 onwards.

    A lot of folks who should never have been offered loans, due to their human weakness, and lack of financial savvy, were saddled with the misery of debt to fund the lifestyles of others.

    Not so sure if too many Hanover investors ever saw much of a connection between the two.

  30. Back to the point of this post; media responsibility. The Press Council clearly states that:

    “An independent press plays a vital role in a democracy. The proper fulfilment of that role requires a fundamental responsibility for the press to maintain high standards of accuracy, fairness and balance and public faith in those standards.”

    In this case it seems that the Sunday Star Times has fallen short.

    LS – Do you have proof or evidence that Hanover actually paid for those legal threats? Or is this just a myth?

  31. Hanover definately paid as they had not sold the Allied Farmers ‘deal’ to the sheeple ‘investors’ at that stage.Was reported in mainstream press.Also B.E re-‘Hotchin was not paying any of the signatories to he affidavits’…were they working for nothing then?or is it the usual twist…working for Coy X?

  32. So far it is (literally) he says/she says. There is absolutely no proof the SST has “fallen short”.

    I have no interest in either the Hotchins or Fairfax, but for the life of me, I cannot see why the Hotchins do not send the SST a lawyer’s letter attaching their affidavits and demanding a retraction and apology. They could advise the SST that if such retraction/apology is not forthcoming they will take legal action.

    It would cost maybe $500 – $1000 for a decent lawyer to draft such a letter. I’m sure they can afford it. It would not commit them to further legal action.

    Until that time, this is all meaningless brinkmanship and frankly it all looks rather silly.

  33. @ BE: “But the investors everyone is so sorry for now were perfectly happy to profit from those ‘greedy high-living parasites’, creating what you might call ‘a second tier level of parasitism’.

    Brian, you are way off course with that remark. By the same token, would you call the investors in that American business behemoth, ‘General Electric’, “parasites”? Their most profitable business unit is GE Capital, of which spawns GE Finance and other financing arms; which function the same way as finance companies do.

    With the likes of Hanover, Bridgecorp, Lombard (Dougie Graham), Strategic Finance et al — there was a huge violation of trust, which was tantamount to corporate malfeasance and criminality. The investors were not aware of all the carry-ons within these companies. They relied on the prospectuses that were issued, as to how their money was being used.

    Finance companies fulfil a critical function in the finance market. Without them, most of the large residential developments (mews and apartment complexes, rest homes etc); and commercial developments (factories, farming, plant equipment, creation of industrial estates etc) would never exist.

    Kimbo: I don’t know why you’re out to deconstruct me, again, by way of suggesting there’s subtext. I’m just saying, that particular pic was a fitting juxtaposition. Had it been one of Amanda kneeling on a mat, wearing gardening gloves and holding a trowel, it would have been incongruous to the tenor of the text. You have to be fair.

    BE: I don’t think I’m so far off the mark. I have no doubt that the investors would have been quite happy to rake in their 10% from ‘greedy, high-living parasites’ without a word of complaint about their lifestyle. Their moral qualms about the Hotchins and others were ignited when they found they’d done their dough. I wonder how they feel about Richard Long whose personal credibility must have been a major reason for many of them to invest in Hanover.

  34. BE: But the investors everyone is so sorry for now were perfectly happy to profit from those ‘greedy high-living parasites’, creating what you might call ‘a second tier level of parasitism’.
    The culture we live in which espouses personal gain over ethical considerations is as much to blame as are the players themselves.Our system contains serious flaws of which these issues are symptoms of.

  35. Gen – “…but for the life of me, I cannot see why the Hotchins do not send the SST a lawyer’s letter attaching their affidavits and demanding a retraction and apology. They could advise the SST that if such retraction/apology is not forthcoming they will take legal action”.

    A number of problems with that scenario. When you think a newspaper is doing an unfair and untruthful hatchet job, you are not usually disposed to think they will act in the reasonable manner you are suggest the SST will.

    Also, as it is about search and expose, Amanda Hotchin may rightly consider your advice is delivering further material into the hands of the SST for further denials, more headlines, more oxygen. Why give opportunity to your enemies? Yes, you can try and play by Marquis of Queensbury rules, as you and David Farrar have suggested. However, a lie is half way around the world before the truth is even out of the blocks…

    Also, your advice that it will only cost $100 will fall flat, if the SST calls the bluff on the other piece of advice you offer: further legal action. More headlines, more oxygen, more material. Look at how people here are framing Mark Hotchin’s alleged previous recourses to legal action. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    Yes, you are right – this still comes down to ‘he said, she said’ as it was a number of weeks ago – although, more rightly, Amanda Hotchin has fronted with some apparent evidence of weight, which ups the ante to ‘he said, they five said’.

    BE is right…the ball is well and truly in the court of the SST. I expect more than a bland regurgitation of their last effort. But Amanda Hotchin is playing a very dangerous PR game if everything about those affidavits is not squeaky clean…gives plenty of scope for some good investigative journalism, as LS’s cynical, but plausible latest post suggests.

  36. I can understand not wanting to pursue a lawsuit, though Kimbo obviously I have greater faith in the legal system than you! (That said, I don’t have faith in affidavits where the person presenting them is not prepared to table them in public and/or in Court and metaphorically waves them around, as if by the mere fact of their existence, they have magical powers.)

    Amanda could still have sent a letter to the SST with affidavits, asking for retraction/apology. If that weren’t forthcoming, refer to the Press Council. Yes, you have to waive your legal rights with a PC complaint, but if she wasn’t planning to pursue legal action anyway that wouldn’t have been a concern. As noted earlier, due to time limits, this is no longer an option.

    So, so far Amanda has alleged she didn’t say the quote attributed to her and has come up with four affidavits from unnamed, and thus unverifiable, sources, which she has provided to Brian Edwards, but not to the allegedly offending publisher.

    She continues to refuse to take any of the legal avenues open to her, nor has she contacted the SST directly. And on this basis the SST should turn over its source material to her?

    Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

  37. Kimbo – With reference to your “he said, they 5 said”…who are the 5? Has BE confirmed whether Amanda and/or Mark and/or any family of either are 2 of the 4? if so, then is what we’re left only 2 unverified people from another country etc. If so, this may go some way as to why Amanda won’t allow BE to publish names and content and why the Hotchin’s won’t take defamation action against SST. The idea that they can’t afford to do so is ridiculous.

  38. 10% may be 2% more than 8% and seem very small but the return is actually 25% higher – what risks would you take for a 25% pay rise? I think greedy is a fair description of the investors in these companies, although I’m admittedly speaking from the perspective of a non-investor.

    The Hotchins won’t lodge a defamation suit – they’re probably aware that people in similar circumstances have won such cases but due to already dismal reputations have had damages assessed at $1.00. A poor return on investment which no doubt they would be wise enough to avoid.

  39. This story was written by Jonathan Marshall and published in the print version of the SST on 16 May 2010. However it is still available online at http://www.stuff.co.nz. Is a complaint to the Press Council still possible given that the story is still on the website? I think the BSA have ruled against this kind of thing regarding the broadcast of a programme that was then available online, but does the Press Council have such a precedent? I’d be interested to know…

    BE: Interesting question. I’ll find out.

  40. BE says: “Their moral qualms about the Hotchins and others were ignited when they found they’d done their dough.”

    I can understand why one might jump to that ocnclusion but Hanover is deserving of the attention it is getting. What dramatically sets it apart, were the levels of related party dealings and massive dividends paid to Hotchin and Watson just prior to it hitting the wall. Add to that at least the suggestion of potential criminal wrongdoing signalled by both the SFO and Securties Commission investigations and one might develop a modicum of sympathy for the outrage of a naive investor that has lots his or her retirement savings to these people. The real worry with this debate – which is fair in isolation in terms of the quality of Marshall’s reporting – is that it diminishes the plight of these many thousands of people who’s lives have been ruined. Against that backdrop Mrs Hotchin’s sensitivities really just don’t seem particularly important.

  41. ^interesting issue re the website Aroha.

    The NZ Press Council is silent on it, but the UK equivalent (the Press Complaints Commission) regarded downloading an article as republication – so material that is still available on a publication’s website can be complained about, even if it’s out of time.

  42. Ruth – “who are the five”? Amanda Hothin and the 4 who provided affidavits. How about you simply stop speculating on their initial motives, identities, and why they want to retain anonymity for the moment (could be they don’t want the SST to do a hatchet job on them as well!) and patiently watch and wait for this weekend’s SST for the next installment…

    Gen- “And on this basis the SST should turn over its source material to her?” No. The SST should turn it over to the public! They sold us the story! Now Amanda Hotchin is calling their credibility into question, and she has something to back it up. I repeat, I am expecting something more than a bland repeat of “we stand by our reporter…” this weekend!

    Merv – “Kimbo: I don’t know why you’re out to deconstruct me, again”.

    Hmmm, lets have a look again at your statement: “the picture of her in that ballgown, bore a striking resemblance to an iridescent lemon meringue. A vapid fashion accoutrement for her husband. But in light of all the misery Hanover has inflicted upon so many people…”

    About the only facts free of spin and construct there, Merv, are: there is a picture of Amanda Hotchin in a yellow dress, next to her husband, who owned a finance company that went bust. The rest is pure construct – which is fine – you, as much as the SST are entitled to do it – as long as there are no untruths. Just as I’m entitled to deconstruct. Kinda thought that is what BE’s site is about.

    Also loved your attempt to draw a distinction between Hanover and…”Finance companies (who) fulfil a critical function in the finance market…”. Don’t disagree with your general point, but don’t fool yourself as the purpose and methods by which these companies operate. It is not out of benevolent disinterest. For all the ‘good’ that they do, some folk incapable of properly handling debt, also suffer – as that very astute politician and judge of human nature, R D Muldoon (cue: Pavlov’s dogs, Merv!!) knew, when he sought to restrain them.

    More a necessary evil, like taverns, casinos, and possibly brothels…

  43. Kimbo, no problem with that but it would sure help if BE could confirm that Manda herself and/or Mark or their families aren’t counted in the 4 affidavits you refer to? You may well be right tha tit is four other people but how can we tell? Perhaps Kmbo you ar ein a privileged position of knowing something that the rest of us don’t?

  44. just a red herring/diversion anyway.Hanover was just another ponzi scheme.Because of the Bridgecorp fiasco the investors unfortunately for them ,bought the DRP sham and then unbelievably backed up for the 21c shares in ALF,last seen at under 2c.Hotchin and Watson can’t believe their luck in escaping the scrutiny of recievership.

  45. Kimbo, Brian’s last sentence of his original post was:

    “I invite the Sunday Star Times to produce either Marshall’s written notes of the exchange with Amanda Hotchin or his recording of that exchange, if it indeed exists.”

    I was just repsonding to that.

  46. ^but I see it doesn’t say hand it over to Amanda! Sorry.

  47. Have to agree with Ruth .. did two affidavits come from Amanda herself and another family member. If so it’s very disingenuous of Brian.

  48. OK, Ruth, time for all the suspects to assemble in the drawing roon, and let’s do a process of elimination:

    “I have four sworn affidavits from people who were present or nearby when I told the reporter to leave the property”.

    That would almost certainly imply Amanda is not one of them (and if she is adopting the Julius Caesar 3rd person address for herself, she is being a rather tricky minx. If she is, and as this is as much an exercise in PR damage control as it is truth for Amanda Hotchin, any trckiness will come back to bite her!). So that is 4, plus Amanda = 5.

    “Amanda Hotchin, who was sitting beside the pool with her husband, spotted Marshall…She loudly called to him to “Get off the property”. Marshall said he wanted to speak to Mark, but Hotchin had (take note, Ruth!) by then gone into the house. Approaching Marshall, Mrs Hotchin again told him to get off the property”.

    As the four affidavitts were “from people who were present or nearby when I told the reporter to leave the property”, that rules out Mark Hotchin – unless Amanda is again being a tricky minx (refer above), and he was observing and listening from inside. However, she says “nearby”, so that almost certainly rules cout Mark.

    At this stage, there is no reason for us to know WHO exactly these four people are. Their identity is irrelevant, other than cumulatively they are more substantial than ANYTHING the SST has produced thus far. Five witnesses, 4 of whom have sworn affidavitts placed in the hands of the country’s most esteemed media commentator and adviser, out-trumps one muck-raking reporter with a spotty history by any measure of common sense, and credibility. However, I would expect their names to be revealed if the SST stands by their reporter with a transcript of his tape recording.

    …and I note you are still engaging in worthless speculation, by questioning my motives and access to information. No, Ruth, I have nothing to hide. I am not the Butler! I just try and read carefully, and draw logical inferences and conclusions from the information available in the public domain. Just like with investing in finance companies, it is ultimately the responsibility of the public to keep the Fourth Estate honest.

  49. Gen – no problems. Your clarification makes perfect sense now. Cheers

  50. Kimbo, you’re awfully defensive. I simply acknowledged that we do not know and asked the question of BE who does know. I agree that absent BE’s confirmation your analysis makes sense – but unlike you I think that the identity of the affidavit swearers is important. What’s the big deal?

  51. I don’t think their identity is irrelevant at all Kimbo. We all know Jonathan Marshall’s history so can judge his ethics/veracity accordingly, but without knowing the identity of the four witnesses we have no way of assessing their credibility.That’s where court cases and evidence rules are handy.

    Just thinking about it, if Amanda herself hasn’t sworn an affidavit it would be quite odd. As she was the key witness and the person who spoke to Jonathon, she would be the person you would get the evidence from first.

    Must have been quite a crowded driveway.

  52. It must have been a really crowded driveway, with everyone ‘listening’ in a legal sense, what with employees(two ‘Americans’ whose sources of income are reliant upon renters like the Hotchins, one unknown, but probably ditto income-wise), Ms Hotchin herself, our reporter, and with everyone’s attention fixed on the scene happening, etching it all on their neurons…

    Not to mention Mark himself, variously (in photos accompanying story) wallowing in aforesaid Hawaiian sun, reading, knee-up, or (in redaction of unseen affidavits) immediatly rising and fleeing inside, leaving wife to confront intruder, with her perfect recall of words said, and even fairly innocuous ones like “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says…”)…which appears to me to be a fairly sensible thing to say to a importunate journalist, in the heat of ther moment.

    I fail to see why we are revisiting this mise-en-scene with all its clouded recalls and odd motives,(and throw in documents that don’t seem to be documents in the public eye) unless as it has been suggested, we are indulging in some game of Cluedo (Were the photos taken before or after the driveway confrontation? Had Mark not risen from the deckchair yet? Or had he returned to it to relax post-confrontation? Can we have a measured out plan of the house and garden please?) or some weird justification of emigre business-persons for unknown purposes.

    So just why are we doing this again? The Hotchin ‘case’ has been dropped, and we all know how threat of the law can be used for the purposes of ‘gagging’ debate. This all feels rather like some personalised vendetta of dubious probity.

    So what is your interest, Mr Edwards? Philosophical? Stategic? Wailing deflowered maiden coming to you via emails? It seems to me this whole revived discussion is, to use the old fox-hunting definition, “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.”

  53. “quite a crowded driveway”. Very dry and witty, Gen.

    I didn’t say their identity will remain irrelevant. What I said was it is irrelevant for the moment, until the SST responds.

    The other two affidavits may very well be sworn by Hotchin family members. Doesn’t detract from their credibility, as such, and I could well understand, as a result of how they perceive the media has targeted the family, why they wouldn’t yet want to reveal their identity. Not when a retraction may be in the pipeline…

    Amanda Hotchin has fronted and is calling the SST’s bluff on a story that they dined out on to her, and her family’s expense. It is now time for the SST to respond – which is why BE has called them out.

    If their reporter has nothing more to work with than some hasty notes relying “on perfect recollection of Mrs Hotchin’s words, in order to quote them verbatim”, then, in the ordinary course of events, the word of 5 against one, no matter what their identity or connections to Amanda Hotchin, is a no-brainer. Time for the SST to either retract, or give a very good explanation why they still stand by their reporter. Will certainly be the last time I ever buy one if they don’t.

    And no, Ruth, it is not a case of being defensive. Just don’t like a lack of self-discipline restraining the confusion between speculation and logical inferences drawn from facts in a public forum, especially when someone’s, anyone’s reputation is at stake. Could be me or you tomorrow.

  54. Kimbo, not asking questions and allowing one to be sucked into a vortex of inference constructed by others is the lack of discipline that concerns me.. That type of thing plays into the hands of manipulative PR-mongers so one must be vigilant. Our positions r enot as far apart as yo might imagine.

    Dave, too funny! But I think you may be onto something here. The Hotchin’s can bring a case if they want. To run a phantom case within the framework of their own conditions and through BE as a mouthpiece (of credibility) bears some resemblence to how Hanover used Richard Long? Although, he at least got paid.

    In any event, the ongoing silence from BE in terms of guidance as to the identities of the 2 non-American affidavit swearers is becoming deafening. One might leap to conclusions but I suspect he might just be away doing something more productive like playing petanque, which at this point strikes me as a smashingly fine idea…

  55. Don’t know why, Ruth, you are badgering BE when he was given copies of the affidavits on the understanding, “You will not publish, or otherwise release to anyone, the names of the people who provided the affidavits”.

    Why flush away a hard-earned reputation for ethical media standards to satisfy your curiosity?

    But yes, you make a very good point about “allowing one to be sucked into a vortex of inference constructed by others”. I don’t dispute that the Hotchins, or Mark in particular, is a master of manipulation/framing/scene-setting. You don’t get folks investing millions with you otherwise. Also threats of legal action are par for the course in that line of business. Shouldn’t be any worry for the SST if they have the facts on their side…

    However, read what BE has written so far, and WAIT until this Sunday. If Amanda Hotchin is not playing square on this one, then she is fair game for a media feeding frenzy.

  56. I don’t think BE needs to breach the understanding. However, if the affidavits aren’t from Amanda and/or Mark he surely could tell us that.

  57. …so maybe your desired answer is contained in his lack of response.

    Then again, maybe it is not.

    So that, like most speculation, was a waste of time, wasn’t it?

  58. I wasn’t speculating Kimbo. That’s quite unfair. I am asking a simple question and openly acknowledge I have no idea what the answer is. You on the other hand likewise have just acknowledged you don’t know the answer but you are happy to draw inference per your blog @ 16.37. Do you now draw different inference based on BE’s silence? If not, when would you? Or like me are you assuming BE is still playing petanque?

  59. ‘Amanda Hotchin has fronted and is calling the SST’s bluff on a story that they dined out on to her, and her family’s expense’…is that right Kimbo….WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LOOOOOONG’!?

  60. Dunno, LS. Maybe, like BE, she was playing petanque.

    What is it with people asking questions about stuff, that even if they had a relevant and reasonable answer, still wouldn’t really seem to satisfy a sense of endless curiosity, and capacity to frame according to preset pejudices, especially when there is more than enough interesting stuff to concentrate on?

    Like, what is going to be in the SST this weekend?! Hey, has anyone questioned why I seem to be drumming up their sales?

    Or, did Jonathan Marshall cobble together a slap-dash set of notes some time after he was kicked off the property, and had taken his photos? Cynics like Dave may yawn that the details are all very tedious, but its the details that got the SST the scoop at the Hotchins’ expense.

    …and Ruth, despite your protestations that you are not speculating, I’d suggest your statement, “it would sure help if BE could confirm that Manda herself and/or Mark or their families aren’t counted in the 4 affidavits you refer to” is a disingenuous attempt to do precisely that.

    Also, while you say you have no idea what the answer is, you are implying the answer, or lack of one, is significant. And that ain’t necessarily so…

    Also, my post in 16:37 contained inferences based on facts/a version of events courtesy of Amanda Hotchin. You, on the other hand, seem to be attempting to draw an inference from silence – “the ongoing silence from BE in terms of guidance as to the identities of the 2 non-American affidavit swearers is becoming deafening. One might leap to conclusions but I suspect he might just be away doing something more productive like playing petanque”. Again, a disingenuous denial, especially when you mention, “To run a phantom case within the framework of their own conditions and through BE as a mouthpiece (of credibility) bears some resemblence to how Hanover used Richard Long”.

    When should you draw an inference from silence? Usually best not to draw any, other than the person chooses not to speak, unless you have a raesonable accumulation of facts to fill in the blanks. And thus far Amanda Hotchin has fronted with more than enough for the present. Time for the SST to respond. And I’ll certainly be drawing some inferences if they don’t respond with transcripts and timeframes and circumstances for the making of notes, as per the terms that BE set.

  61. Oh dear Kimbo…not your best work.

  62. Happy to provide an apology, Ruth, in response to your protest that I was “quite unfair”, if and when you front with rebuttal of substance, rather than a trite and smug commentary…

  63. Kimbo, in the bigger picture, I don’t think it matters all that much as to whether Amanda made those remarks, and whether Marshall took some journalistic licence in print. In my mind, she doesn’t care, now; has never cared in the past; and will never care in the future. We’re being subsumed by convolution with the all the possible scenarios.

    Flashback: to when Mark got cornered by the young TV3 reporter, a few months ago. Mark made the defensive and very plaintive cry: “Well, I’ve lost $300 million”.
    Subtext: How come I don’t get an outpouring of public sympathy, too. My losses were so much greater than all the investors.

    Mind you, Hotchin’s $300 million was assessed by a magician valuer, whom Mark — probably — referred on to the hapless Alloway re the rancid debt-for-equity swap deal. $sub-400 million got whittled down to around $90 million in a few weeks, post deal. Farmer-boy Alloway’s still shaking. And he was contractually-bound to pay a further 5 mill to Watson and Hotchin. You woulda thought, Farmer-boy could devise a better formula for future remittance, to be based on better-than-expected values realised, for the sale of Hanover’s assets by AF; not the reverse.

  64. …I agree, Merv, that in the greater scheme of things, Mark Hotchin doesn’t come across as a particularly pleasant person. Or maybe I should rephrase that: He made his money in a shady industry, by shady/incompetent means, as evidenced by the massive losses. The cry of losing $300 m of his own, while understandable, does evidence a certain self-centredness. The SST story was an attempt to rattle the cage to see what turned up, and provided another piece of the puzzle, albeit primarily at Amanda’s expense. She wasn’t directly involved in the business, but she certainly enjoyed the fruits of it.

    Also agree that Mark Hotchin has invited the SST coverage. He continues to refuse, as is his perogative, to directly front the media. But the public has a right, given all the ruined lives, to know what golden parachute deals were in operation, and also how the money was lost. Which is why I question whether Amanda will be able to keep a bottle on all the other matters Mark doesn’t want to comment on. Once you nake a comment in the public domain, as she has here, you are fair game.

    However, it doesn’t give the SST the right to fabricate facts. Not what I want from the NZS media, for all our sakes.

  65. Enjoyable comment, Kimbo. And Merv’s just before you. A little better than Brian’s Bleat as above.

    Really, it is as nothing.

    Amanda, on a bad day, took exception to the hoi polloi.Hauling in the servants for an avidavit is like so 18th Century.

    In reality, what does Edwards revanp of the story with ‘exclusive’ sources really matter – “AMANDA TALKS” – not a jot, I suspect. Only the lawyers are making on it. How many legal letters are winging their ways, huh?

    As for tommorrow’s papers… we’ll see. But the modern media environment is so desparate for today’s (minor) sensation, that this one may as well do…

  66. Kimbo, you ask for an answer of substance so here it is. In your entry of 16.37 yesterday you acknowledged that if Amanda is referring to herself in the third person in her letter to BE or if she is including an affidavitfrom Mark as a “nearby” person, she is a “tricky minx” and will suffer consequences. I would add that given the headline “Four witnesses swear that Amanda Hotchin did not speak the damaging words” and in light of the fact BE does have the affidavits, then he is complicit is such trickiness should it come to pass that any of the 4 affidavits are from Mark or Amanda. I think by definition you and I must agree on that point.
    In light of his undeniably strong journalistic ethics, Brian is right to say nothing at all on this subject if in fact one of the affidavits is from Mark or Amanda because of the condition imposed on him by Amanda’s team and agreed to by him that he “will not publish, or otherwise release to anyone, the names of the people who provided the affidavits”. As I have said many times I have no idea at all if either of the affidavits are from Mark or Amanda but of course any intelligent person might draw the logical inference the longer the silence from BE continues. He is after all the author of the blog and based on track record it is possbly fair to assume at some point soon, if not already, he is aware of the issue in question and can act or not according to his ethical contraints. The question for you Kimbo is after how lng would a reasonable perosn wait before drawing that inference from the silence of the blog’s otherwise loquacious author? And what would your reaction be if it comes out that Mark and/or Amanda are in fact part of the affidaavit count? You dismiss drawing an inference from silence as idle speculation , in which case then you surely wouldn’t draw any inference from the SST’s silence ?

  67. Once again it comes down to one simple question. Does the Sunday Star Times have a tape from its reporter Jonathan Marshall or not. If not they should apologise.

    Everything else is a side show.

  68. DLMMackie – in your world newspaper quotes would cease to exist because unless caught on tape they are untrue? What is true is the following: big island bash on Vomo during period Hanover moratorium was up for the vote organised by Amanda Hotchin according to Mark Hotchin himself. Of course there’s more than just this. A let them eat cake image wasn’t born from a just a slip of the tongue. It is a way of life.

  69. Back again – much as I think the original story & complaint is quite silly this debate is actually quite fun (some people have funny ideas about what’s fun).

    Kimbo, you say that the SST reporter is only relying on some hasty notes relying “on perfect recollection of Mrs Hotchin’s words, in order to quote them verbatim”.

    Presumably these reporter’s notes were made near-contemporaneously.

    What do you think affidavits are? Documents drafted by a lawyer, probably months after the event, with drafting suggestions made by the lawyer. Presumably, given Amanda’s insistence on avoiding legal action, the people who swore them gave them on the assurance that they’d never end up in Court.

    Why do you think these are any more reliable than the journo’s notes? With your distrust for the legal system I would have thought you’d have a healthy disdain for them.

    Plus, I don’t see why the SST should have a recording of the conversation, and the lack of one does not affect their credibility – quite the opposite. If Marshall was covertly wired up and taped the conversation without Amanda’s consent he’d be properly breaching journalistic ethics, and the tape wouldn’t be admissible in Court anyway.