Policyholder denies blackmailing insurer IAG

06 May 2016

Policyholder denies blackmailing insurer IAG

A disgruntled State Insurance policyholder threatened to badmouth the company through his blog and website posts if the insurer did not pay out his claim, a jury has heard.

Former Northland man Christopher John Robinson has denied charges of blackmail and perverting the course of justice at a jury trial in the Whangarei High Court this week.

Robinson’s five-bedroom, 500 sq m Killara Luxury Lodge near Kerikeri burned down just before midnight on 9 September 2011.

Robinson is alleged to have blackmailed IAG New Zealand, lawyer Chris Hlavac of the firm Young Hunter who acted for the insurance company, IAG CEO Jacki Johnson, IAG Group CEO Michael Wilkins and general manager of State Insurance Mary-Jane Daly.

The Crown alleged Robinson saw blackmail as a quick fix to get a benefit from the position he found himself in.

Following the fire, Robinson made a claim to IAG brand State Insurance but was declined as the insurer concluded the fire was deliberately lit, the Northern Advocate reported.

However, before they could make their final decision, Robinson filed a civil claim in the High Court in March 2012 alleging IAG failed to act responsibly, and alleged breach of contract and good faith.

He sought more than $2 million and other damages.

In May 2012, Robinson and IAG agreed to halt the civil claim pending the finalisation of a criminal case before the district court, the facts of which are prohibited from being published.

Crown prosecutor Richard Annandale said Robinson had filed a second civil action in April 2013. Justice Ailsa Duffy refused an application by the Crown for interim name suppression for its witnesses.

A spokesperson for IAG said the company could not comment while the case was still being considered by the jury.