Craig v Slater, Day 5 (media roundup)

Photo: Chris McKeen via Stuff

Friday saw another long day for Mr Craig as he continued being cross examined by Whaleoil’s lawyer, Brian Henry.  There were few revelations that were newsworthy, although one that was has been suppressed by the Court.

So we were left with this report from Angela Woods at the Herald

Cameron Slater’s lawyer in the defamation suit brought by Colin Craig played an interview to the court today in which Slater called Craig a “ratbag”.

The lawyer played nearly an hour of media footage to refute claims of defaming Colin Craig.

It included an radio interview in which he said Craig was a “ratbag” and “his eyes are too close together”.

This followed a video of Craig’s press conference, two television reports and a number of radio interviews with Craig.

Craig, former Conservative party leader, was in the witness box for the fourth day running in his defamation case against Whale Oil blogger Slater.

Slater has counter-sued for defamation on the basis of comments Craig made about him in a press conference and media interviews.

The press conference was also played, in which Craig repeatedly accused “the dirty politics brigade” of defaming him.

He named Slater only when he announced that he would sue him and ask for damages of $650,000.

Slater’s lawyer, Brian Henry, asked Craig about a booklet he produced at the same time, asking how much was spent on it, and how widely it was distributed.

Craig said it was “broadly distributed” and he spent $287,000 on printing and distributing it to about one million households.

Broadly.   1,600,000 households.

Henry asked Craig if he accepted that he created “a new media cycle” by holding a press conference and distributing the booklets.

Craig said that he did, but when asked if he accepted the aim of the media and Whale Oil was to find the truth, he said he did not.

He said that the main aim of media was “to sell newspapers and stories”.

“Whale Oil also has a political agenda.”

It was the fifth day of the judge-alone trial.

Craig alleged Slater defamed him by saying he was “a sexual deviant” and harassed women.

There is that “sexual deviant” claim again.  I’m going to look forward to seeing the proof that backs that up.  None of our publications mention that phrase in relation to Colin Craig.

Craig’s allegations relate to an alleged relationship with his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor.

MacGregor pursued a sexual harassment case against Craig after resigning in 2014, and was awarded $128,000 in damaged by the Human Rights Commission.


So now we all get a weekend “off” and the next witness for the defence to take the stand will be Colin’s wife, Helen Craig.  Helen and Colin co-authored the  booklet Whaleoil is counter-suing over.

In Stuff, Harrison Christian runs a summary for the week

Love poems, a stray glance down his former press secretary’s top and a TV interview held in a hot sauna.

Just some of the things examined in week one of Colin Craig’s defamation trial.

The former Conservative Party leader is suing Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater in the Auckland High Court.

It’s the latest of a string of defamation proceedings involving Craig to come before the court, centred around a sexual harassment case his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, took to the Human Rights Commission in 2014. The case was settled confidentially.

Craig denies any sexual harassment, saying instead that he was the victim of a concerted campaign to oust him as leader.

This week another love poem Craig wrote to MacGregor was read out in court by Slater’s lawyer, Brian Henry.

Titled Beautiful, it featured lines like, “You are beautiful because your skin is so soft.”

Also read to the court was a letter Craig wrote in the middle of the night in November 2011, just before the election and only six weeks into MacGregor’s employment, in which he apologised for looking down her top, saying: “My eyes went where they shouldn’t have gone.”

“Physically, I do desire you,” he said in another letter penned in February 2012. “There are some times I just want to kiss you and.. well.. go further.”

Henry questioned the appropriateness of Craig’s letters in the context of his professional relationship with MacGregor, characterising them as “pub talk”.

But Craig said he and MacGregor shared a “very close and affectionate” relationship.

Craig also defended a controversial “sauna interview” with former TV3 journalist David Farrier, telling the court he thought viewers would find it entertaining.

In the 2015 interview, the increasingly sweaty duo sat in a hot sauna and discussed a range of topics, including the moon landing and junk food.

Farrier gradually stripped off items of clothing before he and Craig showered together.

Henry asserted that Farrier’s main motive for the interview was the controversy surrounding the sudden resignation of Craig’s former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, before the 2014 election.

Craig had agreed to the interview despite the confidentiality of his and MacGregor’s settlement of the sexual harassment complaint she had laid.

However, Craig didn’t accept the MacGregor controversy was the sole reason for Farrier approaching him, saying he thought the interview had entertainment value.

“In my opinion this is something people will watch, they’re going to be interested in people in a hot sauna,” he told the court.

“It was promoted as ‘this is going to be funny, watch this,’ and I think there’s an element of entertainment, people are just going to watch it because it’s fun to watch people get hot and sweat and so on.”

Craig is representing himself in the three-week trial, and has taken the stand to give evidence as his own first witness. He has spent much of the week under cross examination.

His wife of 25 years, Helen Craig, along with MacGregor, are expected to give evidence next week.

Articles published by Whaleoil alleged Craig did sexually harass MacGregor, and tried to pressure her into sleeping with him, all of which Craig denies.

The millionaire property manager claims the articles effectively destroyed his reputation and ruined his political prospects.


– NZ Herald

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