MacGregor to judge: why [are you] accepting evidence from a “criminal”?

via Yahoo! News

Stuff’s Harrison Christian reports a sliver from the Craig v Slater trial today

There have been emotional scenes at Colin Craig’s defamation trial, with Rachel MacGregor tearfully asking Justice Kit Toogood why he is accepting evidence from a “criminal”.

Screenshots purporting to be taken from an old phone of Craig’s have been presented by him as evidence in the Auckland High Court, where the former Conservative Party leader and Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater are suing each other for defamation.

On Wednesday when Craig, who is representing himself, cross examined his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, she refused to accept the authenticity of text exchanges shown in the screenshots.

“Just to be clear I don’t accept any of these text messages,” MacGregor said.

“Why’s that, Miss MacGregor?” Justice Toogood asked.

MacGregor said she doubted Craig had been able to take screenshots from his old Nokia cellphone.

“I do [doubt it] because he has doctored so many of these text messages,” she said to Justice Toogood.

The screenshots were selective in that they mostly showed texts MacGregor sent, but many of Craig’s texts were missing, the court had earlier heard.

Earlier in the trial, while being cross examined by Slater’s lawyer Brian Henry, Craig said there had been “deliberate selection” of MacGregor’s texts, because his lawyers had requested them.

Asked if his texts could be found, Craig said that wasn’t possible because he hadn’t retained his old phone.

On Wednesday, MacGregor continually refused to accept Craig’s evidence.

“Also I believe that you got these text messages from a convicted criminal with dishonesty charges,” she said.

“Unless you can get something from a reliable source – not someone who’s been in jail – then I’m not prepared to give evidence off documents like this.”

MacGregor had been using the word “criminal” to refer to former Christchurch detective Mike Chappell, who was convicted on 10 dishonesty charges in 2002, and who Craig employed to recover texts forensically.

Chappell was jailed for three years and nine months; his sentence was altered to home detention after a year. His offending included preparing a false summary of facts for the courts.

In court on Wednesday, when Craig persisted by trying to confirm whether she had sent a text offering to “loosen up his shoulders,” she rose to her feet and asked Justice Toogood why he was accepting evidence that had come from a criminal.

“Mr Craig is entitled to put it to you because his evidence is that these are legitimate text exchanges between you,” Justice Toogood said.

“I’m just wanting you to understand that this is your opportunity to influence the findings of fact that I might make. This is your only opportunity to do that.”

“I don’t understand how this is an opportunity for me,” MacGregor said.

She began to cry, and said to Craig: “You put me under huge pressure during this time. I can’t believe I’m being made to stand in front of the man that did this to me.”

Craig said during his cross examination earlier in the trial that after his Nokia cellphone was disposed of, he got a tablet and kept using it while MacGregor worked for him.

To obtain further texts which have also been entered as evidence, in 2015 he sent the tablet to Chappell, who acted as a “forensics expert”.

After the tablet was sent back to him, it was accidentally destroyed.

“It fell off the roof of my car and got run over,” Craig told Henry.

But the evidence obtained by Chappell was also missing texts. Craig admitted they were not “all-inclusive” and were only what could be recovered.

And this is but one facet of the evidence chain that we at Whaleoil have had to deal with.


-Harrison Christian, Stuff


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.