Defamation trial – Craig versus McGregor

A two week judge only defamation trial between Colin Craig and his ex-party secretary Rachel McGregor is due to start tomorrow. There have been a number of high profile defamation cases involving Craig, and McGregor has been a feature of most of them, but this case has not received much if any attention so far.

Stuff: Public appeal for funds ahead of Rachel MacGregor’s defamation action against Colin Craig

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor go head to head in a defamation case at the High Court in Auckland on Monday.

In the latest stage in the ongoing very public saga of the pair’s work relationship, the case goes to court after Craig filed defamation proceedings against MacGregor in November 2016.

Craig’s case is based on what he alleges are three separate defamations of him.

MacGregor has responded with a counterclaim alleging Craig defamed her in four separate incidents.

The issues at the heart of the proceedings came to public attention when MacGregor resigned as Craig’s press secretary two days before the 2014 election. The same day, she filed a claim of sexual harassment against him with the Human Rights Commission, allegations he denied.

At mediation, they settled the sexual harassment claim and a financial dispute, and signed a confidentiality agreement.

MacGregor subsequently complained to the Human Rights Review Tribunal that Craig had breached the confidentiality agreement, by doing media interviews and holding two press conferences.

The tribunal found in her favour, and ordered Craig to pay MacGregor $128,000.

In an interview with Stuff Circuit, timed to launch a public appeal to help her fund her legal defence, MacGregor said: “I don’t have any assets. I am just absolutely nowhere as wealthy as Colin Craig.”

MacGregor said it’s been a tough four years having to navigate the legal system.

“I would not be able to do that on my own and I don’t know how people are expected to navigate it on their own.”

She is still bound by the confidentiality agreement and said, “There’s a real asymmetry. People have mainly heard his side of the story and … the little bits of mine that they’ve heard, I haven’t been able to lead the narrative. I haven’t been able to tell my story on my terms and it’s really frustrating.”

This is not a great way to get to tell one’s side of a messy story.

Defamation trials can be very expensive. Craig is representing himself.

McGregor has already been dragged into two related defamation cases as a subject and a witness. One is Jordan Williams versus Craig, currently heading to a Supreme Court appeal and cross appeal:

A Leave to appeal and leave to cross-appeal is granted (Williams v Craig [2018] NZCA 31).

B The approved question is whether the Court of Appeal erred in allowing the appeal to that Court in part and dismissing the cross-appeal to that Court.

The other is Craig versus Cameron Slater. The trial was held in May-June 2017, but there has been no judgment yet. It is possible the judge in that trial is waiting on outcomes from Williams versus Craig.

Slater is heading for another defamation trial next month, taken against him by Matthew Blomfield, also as a result of posts on Whale Oil.

Craig has also been to court versus John Stringer. I find the last judgment: CRAIG v STRINGER [2017] NZHC 3221 [19 December 2017] confusing between plaintiffs and defendants but it includes an order rewording a previous judgment including:

[2] The wording of the judgment is amended to now read:

(a) There is judgment for the plaintiff against the defendant in relation to the following publications alleging:

(i) The plaintiff sexually harassed one or more women other than Rachel MacGregor;

(b) The plaintiff’s claims, save his claims in relation to publications alleging that the plaintiff sexually harassed Rachel MacGregor, are otherwise dismissed.

There have been a number of ugly aspects to these protracted defamation proceedings. They are set to get another airing in court over the next two weeks,

Leave a comment

21 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  September 23, 2018

    Take home points:

    1- Money is power.
    2- Life ain’t fair especially if you have no money.
    3- Money doesn’t impart common sense. Sometimes it’s best to crawl off into the sunset and be thankful if you are wealthy.
    4- Reputation, ego and perceptions are everything.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 23, 2018

      5 – Craig is 1st Class Tosspot.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  September 23, 2018

        That toss pot- especially given the current political landscape- would have been in parliament today if he’d just hired some top class call-girls and not hit on his PR lady. And, maybe given the sauna a miss.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  September 23, 2018

          I’ve given you an uptick for that cos it made me smile. But on thinking about it – if he’s been weird enuf to do both those things – and stupid enuf to become a serial litigator constantly reminding everyone what he did long after it should’ve just died (god I pity his Mrs) – there’s strong odds that even if he got into Parliament he’d weird out over something else and the net result would be he’d turn everyone off & be outski at the following election. In my view anyway. He’s a tool.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  September 23, 2018

            He’s certainly a strange bird. However, we need people like him to take us out of our comfort zone.

            Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 23, 2018

        I have never heard that he is a heavy drinker, which is what a tosspot is.

        He is a Grade A bore, but so is she. They are as bad as each other.

        She should never have done the massages and gushing texts…

        He should never have written what was jokingly called poetry….

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  September 23, 2018

          Tosspot is a British English insult, used to refer to a stupid or contemptible person, or a drunkard. The word is of Middle English origin, and meant a person who drank heavily.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 23, 2018

            I know its origins, but it still tends to mean a toper, Its name is self-explanatory.

            You may be thinking of a tosser, which does mean an idiot.

            Shakespeare wasn’t Middle English, of course, but he uses tosspots….

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 23, 2018

            Tosspot is used as a term of contempt, but it really shouldn’t be.

            Reply
      • Corky

         /  September 23, 2018

        I’ll run it past my legal council.

        Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  September 23, 2018

    AThis woman can clearly afford to fund her own case.She has won a substantial amount already.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 23, 2018

      I somehow suspect that she didn’t expect to spend it this way 😀

      It’s like the Monopoly card where you have to pay for street repairs….and often end up selling the houses to do so.

      NB, a simple but effective way to avoid this is to look at the card, groan and say that as chairman of the board you have to pay each player $25 and put it back in the middle of the pile.It never fails, because nobody suspects you of making up having to pay out money.

      Reply
  3. Reply
    • Bill Brown

       /  September 23, 2018

      Colin Craig is a national joke.

      At least the defamation laws are getting a good work out.

      All that happens is what’s been said about people gets a much bigger airing in mainstream media

      Reply
  4. Tipene

     /  September 23, 2018

    Another one-sided media hit-piece on Colin Craig most likely orchestrated by [deleted speculation]

    Thankfully, enough people now know that [deleted]

    Neither party can claim innocence in these matters, however its [deleted]

    As far as I can tell, [deleted]

    MacGregor could have exited this drama at any point – but she didn’t.

    Actions have consequences [deleted]

    Reply
    • Bill Brown

       /  September 23, 2018

      Maybe she’s just desperate to stay relevant ?

      Oh wait so is Colin Craig

      Maybe he can send out some more flyers

      Reply
    • If someone starts defamation action against you, especially someone as keen on litigation as Craig, exiting can be difficult if not impossible.

      Reply
    • phantom snowflake

       /  September 23, 2018

      Isn’t there something you should be telling us about your part in this drama?

      Reply
  5. Tipene

     /  September 23, 2018

    Except when you are offered an exit – but don’t take it, because you are now the NZ poster girl for #metoo.

    Thankfully, the #metoo international movement has been dealt some excellently-timed death blows from within its own cabal:

    https://www.newsweek.com/asia-argento-sue-rose-mcgowan-libel-and-deception-1126475

    Alison Mau will find herself about as relevant as Y2K.

    Reply

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