28 Sep 2016

Craig was author of his own misfortune, jury told

6:31 pm on 28 September 2016

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig was the author of his own misfortune, the lawyer for the man suing him has told a court.

Colin Craig during the press conference announcing his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party (19 June).

Colin Craig during the news conference announcing his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Mr Craig is being sued by the founder of the Taxpayers' Union over comments he made in a leaflet and at a news conference in July last year.

The defamation trial against Mr Craig is into its fourth week in the High Court in Auckland and today lawyers for both Mr Craig and Jordan Williams made their closing arguments to the jury.

Read about the Colin Craig defamation case in a nutshell here.

Mr Craig's lawyer, Stephen Mills, told the jury Mr Williams said some seriously damaging things about Mr Craig and the nature of his relationship with his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

"They were not correct. What was said about the non-consensual nature of that election eve incident, that was not correct. What was said about the sex text was not correct.

"What was said about Mr Craig, on more than one occasion, pressuring Ms MacGregor to stay the night was not correct."

By the time he stepped down as the party's leader in June last year, Mr Craig's reputation was shredded and his political aspirations were over, Mr Mills said.

"What happened here was a determined effort by Mr Williams, which he doesn't deny, to have him removed and to do that by putting out rumours and stories and allegations which were not correct in many cases," he said.

"I think the evidence shows clearly [Mr Williams] knew they weren't true ... but he passed it on at any rate and in doing that he was lying."

By publishing the leaflet at the centre of the defamation case, Mr Mills said Mr Craig was responding to an attack on his reputation - standing up for what he thought was the right way of doing politics and going after what he considered the wrong way of doing politics, which he had been the victim of.

Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams.

Taxpayers' Union founder Jordan Williams Photo: Supplied

But Mr Williams' lawyer, Peter McKnight, said Mr Craig attacked his client's honesty and integrity.

He said there was no evidence that Mr Williams lied.

"He relied on Colin Craig's own words. These were the words of a fundamentally flawed man, somebody who had held himself out as a beacon of moral virtue and family values.

"In fact I suggest to you the evidence demonstrates that Colin Craig is at best a complete hypocrite, at worst somebody who sexually harassed his press secretary and acted dishonourably."

Mr McKnight rejected any suggestions that Mr Williams was to blame for Mr Craig's political downfall.

He said if Mr Craig was looking for someone to blame, he should take a look in the mirror.

"I suggest to you that there can be no doubt that Colin Craig was the author of his own misfortune. It does him little credit that he somehow now blames Jordan Williams for all this."

The judge will sum up the case tomorrow, before the jury retires to consider its verdict.

Who's who?

  • Jordan Williams - The plaintiff in the case and executive director of the Taxpayers' Union. He has accused Colin Craig of defaming him in a leaflet that was sent to 1.6 million households around the country in July 2015.
  • Colin Craig - The defendant and former leader of the Conservative Party. He stepped down as leader in mid-2015 amid renewed speculation about his relationship with his former staffer, Rachel MacGregor.
  • Rachel MacGregor - The woman at the centre of the allegations and Mr Craig's former press secretary. She alleges she was sexually harassed by Mr Craig over a long period of time. She quit her job two days before the 2014 election over a pay dispute.
  • Peter McKnight - Mr Williams' lawyer.
  • Stephen Mills - Mr Craig's lawyer. A defamation expert.
  • Justice Katz - The High Court judge presiding over the trial.
  • John Stringer - Former Conservative Party board member. Gave evidence that there was no smear campaign against Mr Craig. Also said Mr Craig had told board members there was nothing going on with Ms MacGregor.
  • Christine Rankin - Former Conservative Party chief executive and candidate for Epsom in the 2014 election. Told the court she had thought Mr Craig was a moral man who could bring integrity into New Zealand politics.
  • Megan Williams - Mr Williams' mother. Gave tearful evidence defending her son's reputation.
  • Helen Craig - Mr Craig's wife. Gave evidence supporting her husband.
  • Brian Dobbs - former Conservative Party chair

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