Craig v Slater – Day 1

Photo: Chris McKeen via Stuff

As promised, we’ll cover what the media have said about the case, and will give you any insights if possible and appropriate.

First up is Stuff

At the High Court in Auckland on Monday, Craig, who is representing himself, said the case was about reputations and the responsibilities of bloggers.

Around the time Craig was suspended as the leader of the Conservative Party, Slater posted a series of articles about him on his blog, Whaleoil.

As a result, Craig’s reputation was “largely destroyed,” and his political prospects ruined, Craig told the court.

He said Slater had alleged he sexually harassed MacGregor, that he was a “sexual deviant” and was withholding payment from her in order to solicit her affections.

I’ve gone through the public posts on Whaleoil and nowhere have we stated Colin Craig was a “sexual deviant”.  It’s rather curious he would self-label in such a way.    

Craig’s bundle of evidence in the latest case contained a large number of text messages between himself and MacGregor, which he said would demonstrate they had a “close and affectionate” relationship that she had encouraged.

MacGregor would also give evidence later in the trial, and he said they were likely to differ on several issues.

“After the [2011] election night party, we went back to the office and there was an incident where we ended up kissing and Miss MacGregor removed her top. Now, there will be a difference in opinion as to who stopped that.”

Funny how cases like this get their own language.  “The incident”, or the “2011 election night incident” is such a phrase.  As is “the dossier” and the “Brain memo”.  Soon there will be other phrases as the case unfolds.

The Herald chips in

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says allegations that he was a “sexual deviant” and paid his former press secretary hush money are untrue.

Craig is suing Cameron Slater and his social media business for defamation at a trial started at the Auckland High Court before Justice Kit Toogood.

Craig says the allegations written on Whale Oil Beef Hooked were irresponsible, inaccurate and very damaging.

In his opening address, Craig, who is representing himself, set out some of the central claims Slater made against him:

• That he had sexually harassed his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

• He’d given her a “large sum of hush money” which Slater claimed [indicated] the harassment was true.

• Craig had lied because he told his party and the public the accusations weren’t true.

• Craig was a “sexual deviant” and had harassed another woman.

• Craig engaged in “devious conduct” regarding the Conservative Party.

A politician being accused of being devious can’t possibly be defamatory under any circumstances.  But once again the claim of being a “sexual deviant” is not one I can find in any of our articles.  I wonder where that’s come from?

MacGregor took up a sexual harassment case with the Human Rights Commission and was awarded $128,000 in damages.

She went to her friend, Taxpayers’ Union director Jordan Williams, to ask for advice and he took notes throughout the meeting.

MacGregor would say she assumed what they discussed was confidential because he was a lawyer and didn’t correct his notes because she didn’t think he would do anything with them.

But Williams contacted others with the allegations, including Slater who published the allegations on the Whale Oil blog and repeated the allegations in interviews.

As a result of the “media fire storm” Craig was forced to step down from the party which he “founded and loved and poured my heart and soul into”; not because they were accurate but because the allegations had taken on a life of their own.

The judge would have to decide who was telling the truth, the main defence of defamation, and Craig said the defendants had little evidence to support their case.

“They can’t both be true.”

They certainly can’t.

So largely a boring first day from the point of view that there haven’t been any public revelations of information not already known.  Mr Craig is unlikely to concede any ground during his opening statement.  The real battle is still ahead.

He had his day in the sun – a whole day of reading out his personal take on things without interruption, balancing comment or cross examination.

The case continues tomorrow with Mr Craig reading out the remainder of his Brief of Evidence which is expected to take another hour or so.  Then he will face cross examination for a number of days.


– Stuff, NZ Herald

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