Williams v Craig: and now we wait…

The 11-person jury in the trial retired to begin deliberating on whether Mr Craig had defamed Mr Williams and, if he did, how much the payout should be.

The case is the first jury trial for defamation at the High Court in Auckland since 2002 and the transcript of the four weeks of evidence is more than 1000 pages.

The number of questions the jurors have to answer is possibly the most of any defamation trial ever in New Zealand.

Summing up the case for the jurors, Justice Sarah Katz told them to disregard how they felt about the parties.

“This is not a popularity contest. This is a court of law.”

Mr Williams has told the court he went to senior Conservative Party officials after Ms MacGregor confided in him about alleged sexual harassment by Mr Craig, including touching, comments, and romantic letters and poems.

But Mr Craig says Mr Williams spread damaging and untrue rumours, including to blogger Cameron Slater, and the pamphlet was written in self-defence.

Justice Katz told the jurors they had to decide whether Mr Craig’s comments had lowered people’s opinion of Mr Williams and, if so, whether the comments were true, made in self-defence or were just honest opinion – the three defences raised by Mr Craig’s team.

But she said if Mr Craig had written the pamphlet with the main intention of just hurting Mr Williams, it would lose its protection – and the jury would have to decide whether they believed Mr Craig about his motivation.

Mr Williams’ lawyers have asked for $1.4 million in damages, but Justice Katz told the jurors it was entirely up to them.

“You have heard two very different versions of events unfold in the courtroom … It is for you to navigate your way between the conflicting versions of events and decide where the truth lies,” she said.

It is already a record setting case.  The absurd thing is that is is likely to play out another four times.  And that’s before any appeals.


– NZN via Yahoo! News

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