Harder admits hitting fellow lawyer with 'a good punch'

15 June 2003

One of two high-profile lawyers involved in a dust-up in an Auckland courtroom has broken his silence about the fracas, admitting he gave his rival "a good punch to his tummy". Christopher Harder said he had been "grossly provoked" in an earlier incident involving the other lawyer, Barry Hart, and a client in the cells.

Harder said he was "only defending myself" when Hart, rumoured to have "deadly skills in karate" had put his hand on his chest "with some pressure". Police want to interview Harder about the May 26 confrontation in the Albany courtroom, which was not in session. Hart said it was inappropriate to comment because the matter was under investigation and he was surprised Harder had gone public. Harder said he did so because he was looking for witnesses to the martial arts skills of Hart, who had karate certificates on his office wall.

Harder, who has been found guilty of misconduct charges at three legal disciplinary tribunals in the 1990s - most relating to courtroom outbursts - said he would defend himself at any disciplinary hearing. If it went to hearing, he said, "then they can step into the ring with me once again and this time it will be a bare knuckle donnybrook, no holds barred". "It's what I do best when someone gets my dander up," he said. He said comments by the Auckland District Law Society executive director that the case was likely to go to the disciplinary tribunal had predetermined the matter.

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