NZ First leader Winston Peters has lodged defamation proceedings against Mediaworks after former Black Cap Mark Richardson likened him to pus on a morning TV show.
The broadcaster has come out swinging in response, accusing Peters of trying to shut down legitimate opinion in election year.
Richardson’s comments on Newshub's The AM Show came as he questioned Peters’ decision to attend a public meeting in Woodville to discuss the closure of the Manawatu Gorge.
Peters told Newsroom he had filed defamation proceedings against Richardson over the remarks.
“I’m not going to have people defaming me in this campaign: I was on The AM Show, the guy likened me to white pus and cancer cells and what have you, and I thought, ‘Sorry, I’m not taking that, I’m suing you’ - it’s all filed.
“When they’ve got past about $60,000 of legal expenses they might come to their senses.”
In a statement, Newshub chief news officer Hal Crawford confirmed the company had been served with defamation proceedings by Peters, but pushed back against any suggestion of wrongdoing.
"We believe this is an attempt to shut down legitimate satire and opinion in an election year. We reject the idea that the colourful language which was used here could have damaged Mr Peters' reputation."
It’s not Richardson’s first clash with politicians this election.
He drew the ire of new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern the day after she took over the job, when he suggested that employers should be allowed to know a woman’s baby plans before deciding whether or not to hire them.
"If you are the employer of a company you need to know that type of thing from the woman you are employing ... the question is, is it OK for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?"
While Ardern said it was acceptable to ask about her own plans, she told Richardson: "For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace. That is unacceptable in 2017.
“It is the woman's decision about when they choose to have children. It should not predetermine whether or not they get the job."