Williams versus Craig

Jordan Williams has beaten Colin Craig to the draw, filing defamation proceedings against Craig. This story broke this afternon via Twitter:

The Conservatives party saga continues.Jordan Williams has filed defamation proceedings against Colin Craig over his Dirty Politics brochure

Defamation proceedings also against Conservative office holders Nathaniel Heslop, Kevin Stitt and Angela Storr.

Williams: “Untrue and defamatory statements have been made about me and my conduct in relation to disturbing material I received” re Craig

Media reports followed (NZH 2:22 pm): Legal action taken against Colin Craig:

Lawyers for Jordan Williams have filed a statement of claim under the Defamation Act in the Auckland High Court against Mr Craig and Nathaniel Heslop, Kevin Stitt and Angela Storr, all officers of the Conservative Party.

In a statement, Mr Williams, an executive director of the lobby group the Taxpayers’ Union, said the action related to statements made by Mr Craig at a media conference on July 29, and a leaflet subsequently distributed to households across the country.

The claim seeks general damages of $250,000 and punitive damages of $50,000 in relation to Mr Craig’s statements at the media conference.

It also seeks general damages of $500,000 and punitive damages of $100,000 in relation to the leaflet.

While Craig threatened Williams did. Craig says that his action is still on it’s way.

Mr Craig said he expected to lodge his own legal action imminently, and was still committed to it and the reasons he had given for it.

“We are in the process of compiling our claims. I mean we have such a vast amount of material that we have got to go through, particularly from Mr Slater and Mr Stringer.

“We haven’t got an actual date by which we will file. Although I would expect it to be in the next week or two.”

And at about the same time (2:21 pm) Whale Oil also posted an announcement: BREAKING: Colin Craig defamation filed [UPDATED]

Mr Williams says, “Untrue and defamatory statements have been made about me and my conduct in relation to disturbing material I received relating to Mr Craig.”

“Reputation is important to me so I take very seriously any accusations that I have acted improperly or dishonestly. Ongoing public smears left unchallenged can gain currency even if they have low credibility.”

“I have made it extremely clear to Mr Craig that I have not made up any allegations or fabricated material, nor conspired to do the same with Messrs Slater and Stringer.”

“Though this is not a course I take lightly, I am confident in my position and look forward to due process in Court.”

I have instructed defamation specialists Peter McKnight and Ali Romanos to act for me in these proceedings and do not wish to make any further comment at this time.

And I posted this at 9:09 pm – been a busy day doing other things.

Craig denies electoral errors

In response to accusations of “serious offences, illegal practices and corrupt practices” from his electorate campaign manager Colin Craig has claimed it is just more ‘Dirty Politics’ and untrue.

NZ Herald reports Craig denies election law wrongdoing.

Mr Stringer, who was the campaign manager in East Coast Bays, alleges that Mr Craig committed a number of “serious offences, illegal practices and corrupt practices” under the Electoral Act.

He alleged Mr Craig deliberately omitted invoices and under-reported the costs of publicity material.

Mr Stringer also accused Mr Craig of spending more than the electoral cap in several electorates – in one case by $2000 – and then shuffling the spending into other electorates in his election returns to conceal it.

“He has taken greater amounts from electorates which pushed them over the electoral cap of $25,700 … and allocated lesser costs to other electorates, thereby misleading the Electoral Commission.”

These claims seem minor at the most. Stringer seems to have oversold and scandal and under-delivered.

And unsurprisingly:

Mr Craig dismissed the allegations yesterday, saying it was a continuation of a smear campaign by Mr Stringer, blogger Cameron Slater and lawyer Jordan Williams.

“The claims are not true, and I’d be very happy to talk to the Electoral Commission and answer any questions they have.”

Notably, while Cameron Slater has continued Craig attacks in posts at Whale Oil – an hour before yesterday’s Stringer press conference he posted GUEST POST: COLIN CRAIG – DIRTY POLITICS, WHY SHOULD WE CARE? in which he said:

It shows that even now, after getting it wrong in his booklet, and being told so, Colin Craig still isn’t a details man.  He gets the most basic things wrong.  Even in a small blog post he still manages to make it a dog’s breakfast.

Colin just can’t cope playing politics with the big boys, and now wants to lash out with his money.

I am on record as saying politics is a dirty, despicable game, played by dirty despicable people.

(Only some who play politics are dirty despicable people Cam).

And I love every minute of it.  Colin is a strategist who plays the game himself.  What he can’t cope with is that he was outplayed, and instead of retiring hurt and going back to making money in business, he’s gone all surly and wants to damage me and others.

Colin, by all means, let’s go to court and discuss, item by item, in beautiful detail, what is and what isn’t a lie.   But even then, defamation is a civil action, not a criminal one.   So you might want to stop adding fuel to your own fire by claiming I have acted criminally.   Sounds defamatory to me, just quietly.

Despite strong words like this yesterday, after Slater and Whale Oil being a significant and sometimes breaking source of Stringer claims and cartoons over the past month, Whale Oil has no coverage of Stringer’s claims from yesterday (to date).

This attempt by Stringer looks minor at the most, and most likely a fizzer.

Stringer fighting back – press conference today

Ex Conservative Party board member John Stringer has announced a press conference today. He claims there are “documented new accusations against Colin Craig that now involve a Police investigation” and “serious offences”.

Now launching into investigation by media?

UPDATE: It seems to boil down to this:

New allegations from John Stringer against Colin Craig – lots of them, but basically boils down to filing false info for electoral return.

.@ColinCraigNZ falsified info in at least five electorates and falsified his own return, John Stringer alleges Electoral Act breaches

Craig on underarm politics

Colin Craig has a guest post at (curiously) The Daily Blog – Colin Craig – Dirty Politics, why should we care?

He likens the alleged attacks on him to the infamous underarm cricket incident that New Zealanders have kept reminding Australians about since 1981.

I don’t think the two are similar at all. Australia played within the rules of cricket but their underarm bowl was deemed by many to be outside the spirit if cricket.

Both Craig and his current opponents claim breaches of the rules/laws of defamation.

And I don’t think the New Zealand public will be reminiscing about ‘the underCraig incident’ in 2049.

It is my view that politics matters, just as much, if not more than, sport.

I think more people care about sport than about politics. But the quality of our politics does matter.

Those in politics have a much greater ability to influence, for better or worse, the lives of others. We won’t always agree on the right mix of policies and sometimes when the debate gets heated it might well feel like a finals contest in the World Series. Despite all this, however, we should never stoop to the underarm ball.  We should be better people than that.

Underarm politics is common. It’s always been an integral part of the political game. But Craig’s problem is not about Government or about Parliament. It’s about an internal spat in a party that isn’t in Parliament.

Craig is claiming that the involvement of political blogger Cameron Slater and political activist Jordan Williams with an aim to keep the Conservative Party out of Parliament is dirty.

If he’s correct in his claims, if it was a political hit job to destroy a party then yes, it looks dirty, but that’s yet to be determined.

Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas

My wife and I have just published a booklet “Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas” in which we exposed the actions of 3 individuals in a recent defamatory attack against me. I am not the first to be attacked in this way but if possible I would hope to be the last.

There doesn’t seem to have been much hidden in the Slater/Stringer versus Craig conflict, apart from actual evidence from both sides.

Whether it was defamatory or not is yet to be determined. So far both sides have claimed defamation and legal threats have been made but nothing seems to have happened yet apart from public posturing.

What Happens Next?

I am fortunate enough to be in a financial position to take legal action against the parties that have defamed me. What they have done is not legal and so I will be looking to the courts to rule on the matter as a way to restore my public reputation.

Or not.

One aspect of this is power – in this case Craig’s financial power. Most people couldn’t fund defamation action so don’t attempt to legally threaten them.

Craig is fortunate to be able to finance a court ruling on what is not legal if anything.

It could be argued (and is being argued) that Craig’s actions in trying to deal with this are not helping his public reputation.

What I do know is that I am committed to playing a part in fighting for a better kind of political debate in New Zealand.

Laudable. I’ve been fighting for better political debate for years.

I remain hopeful that our nation can resist the slide into self-serving and cynical manipulation of mainstream media.  I hope instead that we might retain our values of honesty and a fair go.

I agree with those ideals – but it’s fair to point out that Craig has been working the mainstream media since this story broke, including having two controlled media conferences and numerous mainstream media interviews.

And Craig’s nationwide delivery of booklets is an unprecedented media move.

p.s. I wish to acknowledge the importance of Nicky Hagar’s book on Dirty Politics last year. His work in shining light on the practice of attack politics has been an important contribution to improving democracy in New Zealand.

I don’t recall Craig being a big supporter of Hager’s book when it was launched last year.

‘Dirty Politics’ may or may not have made “an important contribution to improving democracy’ – using illegally obtained data to inject a politically targeted book into an election campaign is not an ideal way to do democracy.

Craig appears to be trying to attach his cause to whatever populist thing he can think of. This post works on trying to liken his predicament to cricket and Hager.

But so far Craig doesn’t seem to have got the sporting and political public on his side.

He may be forced into using the courts and taking his chances there.

Oh, and Cameron Slater doesn’t usually resort to tame stuff like dribbling underarmers.

The Trump circus, the Peters circus, the Craig circus

The Trump circus continues in the US. It’s over u year until the US election.

They have just discussed it on TV One’s Breakfast. It was mentioned how Trump was getting all the media attention.

Who is giving him all that attention, and why?

The female presenter (I genuinely don’t remember her name) remarked that Trump was entertaining and she liked the entertainment.

I think that highlights the problem. Media are becoming obsessed with entertainment. Serious issues and intelligent analysis are diminishing rapidly as those who see themselves as entertainers (media ‘personalities) promote trite coverage of those who promote themselves as entertaining (joke political aspirants).

This is why Winston Peters and Colin Craig get so much media attention here. The entertainment industry see them as entertaining.

Perhaps the people will pay more attention to politics if we had Reality Parliament.

The running of the country would get even less focus and scrutiny but maybe that’s what the people want.

My Colin Craig junk mail arrived

Sounds like I’m late to this party but despite a very clear “No Junk Mail” sign on my letterbox that is normally seen and respected by junk mail deliverers I got my bit of Colin Craig junk.

Apart from the the fact that if as Cameron Slater claims the booklet contains defamatory material a million booklets can’t easily be recalled, I simply cannot understand what Craig thought he would achieve by circulation this.

It’s unfathomable to me. I’ve seen some weird stunts before but this is beyond weird, beyond stupid, beyond any rational explanation.

And it annoys me that deliverers of this junk were apparently instructed to ignore “No Junk Mail” requests.

I might need to add “No Junk Male”.

UPDATE: There’s a gripe about this with more detail at Whale Oil: CONFUSED WHY COLIN CRAIG’S DIRTY POLITICS BOOKLET MADE IT PAST YOUR “NO CIRCULARS” SIGN?

This largely quotes from PatBrittenden.com – Colin Craig, at risk of a $20,000 fine for ‘spamming’ NZ with his ‘Dirty Politics’ booklet

Someone mentioned in a comment that they had received a copy of the booklet even though they have a ‘no circulars’ sticker on their letterbox, which reminded me that we have a ‘no junk mail’ on ours. So with a little research I found out that it is an offence to deliver unsolicited mail to a letterbox that has a notification on it informing that they don’t want any. The Marketing Association has a sector called  Mailbox Help designed to sort out situations like this, they work alongside groups like NZ Post. If you’re interested you can get hold of Mailbox Help for whatever reason you want on 0800 111 081.

I spoke with Mailbox Help and they informed me that they have had complaints about Colin Craig’s booklet from Kaitaia to Dunedin. I asked what happens next and they said that it was likely that they would be undertaking a ‘severe investigation’ as there had been so many complaints. If after the investigation it’s decided that Mr. Craig has committed an offence he could be fined up to $20,000 and made to either retract his deliveries or stop them all together.

And later:

UPDATE 1.30pm

To the original point of this post, that Mr. Craig has sent his booklet to letter boxes that have ‘no junk mail’ stickers on them. I have just received a copy of the delivery instructions by Reach Media to its workers who actually put the booklets into the letterboxes.

As you can see clearly it states that for the COLIN CRAIG VS DIRTY POLITICS delivery the deliverer is to ‘include‘ the ‘no circs‘ letterboxes.

Speaking with Reach Media they claim that the reason they have delivered it to ‘no circ‘ letter boxes was that it was booked in as a “government piece” although they also concede they didn’t know what the delivery was when it was booked. When asked if they thought in hindsight if it was a ‘government piece’ the gentleman on the phone, who claimed he took the original booking, agreed it was not.

UPDATE 2.45pm

NZ Post have been in touch to make clear they are not responsible for fining people who breach the rules around junk mail so I want to retract a former heading of this post which claimed that NZ Post was potentially going to fine Colin Craig,  however the fine is still very much a possibility. For example, as stated in the North Shore City Bylaw, Section 5 Offence to Deposit Unaddressed Unsolicited Material, 4.95 Depositing unaddressed, unsolicited material “Every person who breaches this bylaw may be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000.” There are similar bylaws for different parts of the country with fines of various amounts.

Stringer, Slater throw Bible back at Craig

John Stringer and Cameron Slater continue to jointly fight Colin Craig, throwing some Biblical references back at Craig.

Last Wednesday Colin Craig made two announcements. The first:

The first of the 2 major announcements today is the publication of a booklet that outlines the dirty politics agenda and what they have been up to in recent weeks.

The first false claim is that I have sexually harassed one or more persons. Let me be very clear I have never sexually harassed anybody and claims I have done so are false.

The second false claim being bandied about by the Dirty Politics Brigade is that I have made a pay-out (or pay-outs) to silence supposed “victims”. Again this is nonsense.

Again in a similar vein is the false allegation that I have sent sexually explicit text messages or “SEXT’s” as they are known. Once more this is not true. I have never sent a sexually explicit text message in my life.

The fourth false claim that we highlight in the booklet and that was being spread about by the Dirty Politics crowd was that of another alleged “victim” of sexual harassment.

The second announcement was that Craig would take defamation action against John Stringer, Jordan Williams and Cameron Slater:

The second announcement today is that we will be taking legal action for defamation against the Dirty Politics Brigade. It does not serve this country well to have a group of people who influence public opinion through a web of deceit and media manipulation.

We identify in the booklet 3 key people in the campaign against me. Each of these will be held to account for the lies they have told. Formal claims are being prepared and I expect these persons will have formal letters from my legal team within the next 48 hours.

The booklet distributed by Craig referred to Stringer as:

  • the ‘Judas’ within the Party.

CraigBookletCoverAmongst the claims against Stringer:

Stringer must have therefore thought it a “Godsend” when the allegations of sexual harassment against Craig began to emerge.

Two days later Stringer had a letter from a lawyer published on Whale Oil by Slater that said:

COLIN CRAIG: DEFAMATION ACTION

  1. We act for Colin Craig and have been instructed by him to prepare defamation proceedings against you.

Stringer has returned fire. Today Slater published this cartoon signed by Stringer:

unnamed

The Bible bashers continue to square off.

Both sides seem confident in their righteousness. They can’t all be right.

Legal action via media

There’s been a number of prominent examples of people using legal action in parallel with media campaigns.

This week Colin Craig launched a media blitz before even filing defamation action, and he has continued to work the media as much as he can via follow up interviews and social media promotion.

If his claims against Jordan Williams, John stringer and Cameron Slater hold up then it will have been a nasty campaign against Craig.

But why would Slater in particular make accusations he couldn’t back up knowing that Craig had a history of legal action? Slater has a lot of experience in legal actions so will have been well aware of the risks and what caution was prudent.

And the way Craig has used the media as his main form of attack questions his credibility in some ways. He seems to be more intent on fighting a PR battle using the threat of defamation as one of a number of tools.

It looks more like grandstanding than defending his integrity.

The timing may be influenced by Craig’s obvious ambition to get enough support in the Conservative Party to be reinstated as leader.

Is he playing to the party audience? To some extent that must be his aim.

But when legal action – presuming he follows through with defamation proceedings – is overwhelmed by a media blitz then it appears that legal resolution is not the main aim.

And if it gets to court the public campaigning may be taken into account in making any judgement of possible damages.

Craig has drawn more attention to what has happened and what has allegedly happened than anyone else, and he continues to do this via media.

Even if, despite all the self generated publicity, he manages to get a favourable court decision that will probably take too long for him politically.

He appears to want to be Conservative leader soon and to contest the election in 2017.

Sure if his claims are correct he has reason to feel aggrieved but his political comeback seems to be his primary focus, and legal threats look to be one of a number of means towards an intended end.

This looks very political, so that plus Craig’s media blitz must raise questions about the potential effectiveness of any threatened legal action.

Craig can reasonably be questioned what his priority is, resurrecting his political career or his personal integrity.

Is this legal action via media? Or media action with legal threats thrown in?

(Note to Craig: you have a right of reply)

Craigs’ media statement

The Craigs’ media statement on the release of their booklet about the Dirty Politics Brigade and an announcement that Colin Craig would take defamation action for a total of $1,550,000 against Jordan Williams, John Stringer and Cameron Slater.

Colin and Helen Craig Media Statement re: Dirty Politics Brigade
29 July 2015

Colin:
Thank you for coming. My wife (Helen) and I will be making statements after which I will be taking questions from the media.

It was just under 6 weeks ago that I stepped down as the leader of the Conservative Party. I did so because it had become clear to me that there was a strategy (involving some characters identified in the “Dirty Politics” book) to remove me as leader of the party.

Standing down enabled me to better understand the strategy being run against me and gave me time to plan and respond. We have made good use of that time.
There is in this country a group of people who believe that they can manipulate political outcomes. They have been labelled the Dirty Politics Brigade and last year in his best selling book “Dirty Politics” author Nicky Hagar shed some light on who these people are and how they operate.

Today is a good day because this is the day we start to fight back against the Dirty Politics Brigade who have been running a defamatory strategy against me.
The first of the 2 major announcements today is the publication of a booklet that outlines the dirty politics agenda and what they have been up to in recent weeks. There is a copy here for each of you to take away after the statements today.
Although I was broadly aware of the dirty politics agenda, I have after all read Nicky Hagar’s book, I had not expected to have such close and personal attention from them.

In our booklet we reveal that there has been a campaign of defamatory lies to undermine my public standing, a campaign that in the Dirty Politics Brigades own words they describe as a “strategy that is being worked out”. I shall briefly cover some of their lies so you have a taste of what the booklet contains.

The first false claim is that I have sexually harassed one or more persons. Let me be very clear I have never sexually harassed anybody and claims I have done so are false.
The second false claim being bandied about by the Dirty Politics Brigade is that I have made a pay-out (or pay-outs) to silence supposed “victims”. Again this is nonsense. Take for example the allegations around my former press secretary. Let me be very clear, the only payment I have made to Miss Macgregor since her resignation is an amount of $16,000 which was part payment of her final invoice. It was a part payment because I disputed her account which I had every right to do. Claims of any other amounts being paid and especially the suggestions of large sums of hush money being paid are utterly wrong and seriously defamatory.

Again in a similar vein is the false allegation that I have sent sexually explicit text messages or “SEXT’s” as they are known. Once more this is not true. I have never sent a sexually explicit text message in my life.

The fourth false claim that we highlight in the booklet and that was being spread about by the Dirty Politics crowd was that of another alleged “victim” of sexual harassment.

It is here that that many of you, the media, started to get suspicious and to “smell a rat”. A number of you in private conversation with me expressed concerns about a smear campaign and doubts that the story as it was unfolding in the media was true. While I am grateful that many of you chose not to run the “other woman” story I do wish that the same good judgement had been exercised earlier with other false allegations.

[I trust that you will be co-operative in retracting and correcting false reports that you may have posted/reported.]

The second announcement today is that we will be taking legal action for defamation against the Dirty Politics Brigade. It does not serve this country well to have a group of people who influence public opinion through a web of deceit and media manipulation.

We identify in the booklet 3 key people in the campaign against me. Each of these will be held to account for the lies they have told. Formal claims are being prepared and I expect these persons will have formal letters from my legal team within the next 48 hours. Due to the serious, deliberate and repetitive nature of the defamatory statements I will, for the first time, be seeking damages in a defamation claim.

The first defamation action is against Mr Jordan Williams. I will be seeking damages from him of $300,000.

The second defamation action is against Mr John Stringer. I will be seeking damages from him of $600,000

The third defamation action is against Mr Cameron Slater. I will be seeking damages from him of $650,000

Today the line is drawn. Either the dirty politics brigade is telling the truth or I am. The New Zealand public need certainty about the truth of these claims. This is about who is honest. Is Colin Craig telling the truth or is it the Dirty Politics Brigade. Let the courts judge this matter so we know whom to trust.

Helen:
This is about who you can trust ….. and you can trust my husband, he is a good and trustworthy man. In the nearly 28 years I have known him, Colin has proven himself to be a man of integrity and honesty, one who owns his faults and doesn’t dodge responsibility. And that is why I again choose to stand with him today and why he has, and will continue to have, my full and unwavering support.

For those of you who will wrongly assume, once again, that I have been dragged into making a media statement by Colin you are, once again, wrong. I am here today because there are important things which I want to say for myself.

Indeed, I have to say, I find it very surprising that some commentators have criticised my choice to speak out. We have good women in this country and a good woman knows how to stand with her man when he is under attack.

The last 6 weeks have been a very difficult and surreal experience for us. It has not been fun to be victimise by those responsible for a series of false allegations.

I have been astounded with each new allegation and wondered what absurd thing they could come up with next. I did not expect politics to be easy but I did hope it would centre around fair debate of the issues. Such a determined campaign of defamation was not something I ever expected and I do wonder how the Dirty Politics Brigade can sleep at night.

On a more positive note, however, there have been our many dear supporters. I did want to again say thank you for the wonderful love and care we have been shown as a family. To family, friends and the many hundreds of supporters whom have taken the time to contact us I want you to know it has made a difference and encouraged us more than words can easily say. We so appreciate you and can’t thank you enough.

That is all I have to say today and I won’t be answering questions. Thank you.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1062974263713507&id=146745782003031

3 News video of the media conference, report and a copy of the booklet: Colin Craig takes ‘Dirty Politics Brigade’ to court

Note that Craig begins with “It was just under 6 weeks ago that I stepped down as the leader of the Conservative Party.”

But as posted here, Craig still acting as Conservative leader

Craig still acting as Conservative leader

To all intents and purposes Colin Craigappears to be still acting as leader of the Conservative Party, even though he resigned as leader and automatically dropped out of the party Board over a month ago.

Craig announced a press conference this afternoon on Twitter:

Press Conference
Wednesday 29 July at 2:00pm
Level One, The Spencer on Byron Hotel
9-17 Byron Avenue,Takapuna

Please be advised that Colin Craig will be holding a Press Conference at the above time and date. Colin will be making two significant announcements, and he will take questions at the end of his address.

He will also be available for interviews afterwards.

Bev Adair-Beets
Media Liaison – Colin Craig

His Facebook looks like he is still campaigning, and he still has an authorisation message.

He linked to this from his twitter account where he is still presented as “Leader of The Conservative Party of New Zealand”:

CraigRwitter28-07-15

On the Conservative Party website Craig is still listed as leader:

Head Office

Conservative Party HQ

Party Leader

Name: Colin Craig

Email: Via Press secretary

Cell phone: Via Press secretary

Press Secretary for Colin Craig

Name: Bev Adair-Beets

And that same Party press secretary is listed on the Press conference promo as “Media Liaison – Colin Craig “

It appears that Craig’s resignation as leader on June 19 made little difference to him leading the party.

xx

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