More on Williams’ court outburst

Stuff has more detail on the outburst by Jordan Williams in court yesterday in his defamation case against Colin Craig.

Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams’ courtroom rant

The proceedings finished in the High Court at Auckland with Craig’s lawyers recalling Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams, who has taken the defamation action against Craig. 

The tense final examination of Williams prompted him to tell Craig’s legal team that they had “s…” all over Craig’s former press secretary Rachel MacGregor and accused them of “coming after” Williams.

The terse stand off between Williams and Craig’s lawyer Stephen Mills QC was prompted after communications between Williams and Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater were unearthed a week into the trial.

I have a fair idea what that will be referring to. At this stage of proceedings I don’t want to give or hint at what it is.

Mills QC said it was evidence that Williams used people for his own political advantage. 

Williams was adamant that the comments produced to the court, allegedly made by him, were falsified. 

Where the communication originated and its contents can’t be reported due to legal reasons. 

And that means can’t be mentioned here by anyone. I wonder if this is has something to do with “Lawyers will discuss trial matters on Monday”.

Williams said he was “embarrassed” by the communication and had apologised to the person who was the subject of the conversation. 

He didn’t want to reveal what he’d actually said during the conversation because it was “yuck” and “personal”. 

“I don’t want to say what the comment was because it’s really personal about [the person]. I don’t want to say it. The thing is I can’t produce the original. I can’t prove to you, but I know the circumstances. I wouldn’t have said that. I said something yuck. The opposite.” 

Mills QC put to Williams he was “prepared to use people that are your friends for your wider political agendas”.

Williams then slammed his fist on the witness box. 

jordanwilliamscourtfist

“I supported [Rachel MacGregor] for eight months until that p… [Craig] started piddling on the [confidentiality] agreement.  

“You guys have come after me. You’ve said I’m a blackmailer, you’ve said I smeared the Serious Fraud Office. I can wear stuff that’s [in the documents]. My whole life is out there, I’ve got everything of my life out there, and I wear some pretty embarrassing stuff. I can wear stuff that’s there but I can’t wear stuff that’s not true. 

“You’ve s… on Rachel in this case. You can’t help yourself.” 

Some of this is available in video here  at One News: ‘You’ve shat on Rachel’: Tensions run high in Colin Craig defamation case

No matter how justified you think it may be, if you take someone to court exposing very embarrassing information, imposing legal costs of possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars on your opponent, claim I think $900,000 in damages, then there must be some expectation of a fairly robust defence.

A defamation settlement proposal

Lawyer Greg Presland makes some observations that are probably widely shared, and A settlement proposal for Jordan Williams and Colin Craig

To both of them can I suggest that they immediately discontinue their proceedings.  And pay the anticipated further legal fees to a suitable charity.  I suggest Salvation Army.  The lawyers will understand.  At least I hope so.

The world will be a better place if they do so.

There are two things wrong with this proposal.

It is months too late.

And it is likely to be ignored.

While some monetary gain was the aim of one party in this dispute it is debatable whether much if any of that will be forthcoming.

Otherwise it’s difficult to see what good could have come out of the extended and very public revelations.

There was always going to be the potential for major losses in credibility and respect, not just for the two people at the forefront of this battle of witlesses, but especially for the collateral damage to others.

What appears to be unintended consequences should have been very predictable.

Bradbury in Williams v Craig

One of the last witnesses to appear for Colin Craig in his defamation case with Jordan Williams was Martyn Bradbury.

The NZH senior police reporter Anna Leask from Heated scenes at Colin Craig trial:

He was called by Colin Craig’s team to give evidence about Jordan Williams, it was basically a character witness kind of thing.

He was talking about Williams and his previous experience with him, and he told the jury that Jordan had lied directly to him in the past, and described him as  one of a pack of hyenas who were intent on taking Craig down.

Bradbury was quite boisterous and colourful in court, and he referred to people who participate in this practice… as cancers and political sadists, Williams included in his opinion.

From NZH: Jordan Williams emotional and angry in court

Media commentator and blogger Martyn Bradbury was also called today to give evidence about his previous experience with Williams.

He claimed in court that in the past Williams had lied to him directly and “created a fake email identity” which he used to “send a false tip-off”.

He said Williams had embarked on a “political hit job” against Craig and described him as one of “a pack of hyenas” who had turned on the former politician.

“I thought (Craig’s pamphlet Dirty Politics and Hidden Agenda) was an appropriate response to a pack of political sadists,” Bradbury said.

I always thought the pamphlet was a bizarre, crazy way of trying to deal with things, and in no way appropriate (but I have no idea whether it may constitute defamation).

He told the jury he thought Williams and a number of others he felt were involved in the practice of dirty politics in New Zealand were “a cancer on the body politics in this
country”.

Bradbury was asked what he thought the defamation trial was about and replied: “an angry fight between two people who don’t like each other much”.

There may well be some anger and indignation involved, but some of those who get into political activism seem to see it as a bit of a game to be won at any cost.

Under cross-examination Williams’ lawyer Peter Knight grilled Bradbury about his posting blogs that had “derogatory, horrible and sleazy” comments about his client before he gave evidence.

He asked Bradbury if he thought it appropriate to “attack” Williams online given he was coming to court to give evidence against him days later.

I said last week that I thought it was quite unwise for Bradbury to post about the case he was to be a witness in.

His derogatory, horrible and sleazy” comments will have taken the edge somewhat off his accusations of others being dirty.

Bradbury admitted posting about the trial last week but said he had not posted about his own evidence.

“Did you think it was appropriate given you were going to be a witness, to do that?” said McKnight.

“My understanding was that I could not talk about my evidence, I didn’t realise I couldn’t blog about breaking news,” he said.

Craig’s team should have made it clear to Bradbury in advance of the Court sitting what was appropriate and what wasn’t.

And Bradbury should have known better or should have found out what he could do and what he shouldn’t do. He seems to have difficulty being discrete at times, and in this case may have damaged his credibility in court.

UPDATE: More from Stuff on Bradbury’s appearance – Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams’ courtroom rant

Political commentator and blogger Martyn Bradbury on Friday afternoon told the court that Jordan Williams was “manipulative” and akin to a “venomous spider”. 

Bradbury had the jury in fits of laughter as he also explained his disdain for Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. 

Without knowing what he actually said I think that’s quite sad, not funny.

“Loathe is not strong enough a word,” he said. 

His descriptions prompted Williams’ lawyer Peter McKnight to suggest Bradbury was being “flippant”. 

Bradbury gave evidence of Williams’ character and criticised his relationship with Slater. 

Williams’ leaking information about Craig to Slater was for Williams’ “own political ends”, Bradbury thought. 

 “As far as I was concerned, I thought the leaflet was an appropriate response to a pack of political sadists,” Bradbury said.

“I think this [trial is] an angry fight between two people who don’t like each other much. It’s very, very important for the jury to find the truth in this.” 

That is funny, trying to instruct the jury.

“You’ve shat on Rachel” – Williams

Jordan Williams appeared to be feeling the pressure at the end of the third week in his defamation trial against Colin Craig, getting emotional and frustrated in court today when called again, this time as the final witness.

jordanwilliamscourt

NZH: Jordan Williams emotional and angry in court

Williams gave evidence in the first week, and was recalled today so Craig’s lawyers could question him further on a matter.

Stephen Mills QC quizzed Williams on Facebook messages between him and blogger Cameron Slater.

In the messages, Williams made inappropriate comments about a female friend while speaking to Slater about a political news story.

“For pursuit of your own political agenda, you are prepared to use people who are your friends for those wider political objectives,” Mills suggested to Williams.

Williams then became emotional and angry on the stand.

He denied he had “used” Rachel MacGregor by calling her as a witness at the trial, and said he had tried his best to protect her.

He called Craig, sitting in the public gallery, a “prick” and then directed his anger at Mills.

“You shat on Rachel in this case,” he said.

“You couldn’t help yourself.”

Some will see some irony in Williams lashing out at others for putting the spotlight on MacGregor. He can’t have been that naive that he thought he could use her claims and communications against others, ask for $900,000 in damages, without exposing MacGregor to some scrutiny.

Audio at Newstalk ZB: Heated scenes at Colin Craig trial

Video in One News coverage: ‘You’ve shat on Rachel’: Tensions run high in Colin Craig defamation case

– The tables are being turned on Jordan Williams with the defence accusing him of using a woman he was seeing to get a political story.
Source: ONE News

More of what was said can’t be published as it relates to another matter before the Court.

Earlier in the case it had been revealed that Williams distributed copies of communications from Craig to MacGregor against her wishes.

Other recent witnesses were supporting Colin Craig.

Bev Adair-Beets told the jury that she could tell MacGregor had a personal interest in Craig.

“I got the general impression that Rachel believed she held a special status of power over Colin. She could dictate what she was paid,” Adair-Beets said.

She said “as a woman” she “could tell” MacGregor was interested in Craig.

Adair-Beets gave evidence about going to see MacGregor around the time she resigned.

She said she was “very concerned about her “emotional state”.

“Rachel was adamant that she wanted money from Colin. She told me very clearly that she would get what she deserved and would do anything to get it.

“When I asked her what she meant she said ‘watch me, I’ll get it, I can get whatever I want’. She told me she was going to take a stand.”

In her evidence last week MacGregor said she had read Adair-Beet’s statement of evidence and strongly refuted her claims.

“In her brief of evidence, Bev says that she ‘moved into a job share of the role of press secretary’. This is not true or is at least highly misleading,” MacGregor told the court.

Kevin Stitt, who was a part-time administrator for the Conservative Party:

“I knew Colin very well and never had a reason to question his integrity or character,” Stitt said.

He told the jury that when he first heard the allegations against Craig in relation to his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor he was “sceptical of their truth”.

Stitt was responsible for emailing a link to Craig’s pamphlet Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas – in which he allegedly defamed Jordan Williams – to thousands of Conservative Party supporters.

The first time Stitt saw the pamphlet was shortly before it was publicly released at a press conference in July last year.

He told Craig: “You’ve made some strong allegations here, Colin. Have you got evidence to back them up?”.

“He assured me he had,” Stitt said.

Angela Storr (Conservative Party membership manager in 2014 who worked closely with MacGregor):

Storr said MacGregor often spoke to her about their boss.

“She went on about Colin to me on a regular basis, how wonderful he was,” Storr said.

MacGregor confided in her about a personal loan Craig and his wife had given her.She said she accumulated a lot of debt after leaving her job at TVNZ and that the Craigs had not only helped her escape that, they had helped her with a new budget and she was “turning over a new leaf”.

“She said she would be forever grateful for the opportunity that Helen and Colin had given her.”

She told the jury she saw a text MacGregor sent her boyfriend after a trip away with Craig for work. In the text, she said, MacGregor told the boyfriend that Craig had been “mean” during the trip.

“In my work with Rachel I saw that she was close to Colin and thought very highly of him. I observed Colin was kind, caring and understanding towards her.”

Lawyers will discuss trial matters on Monday and then closing arguments will be heard by the jury on Tuesday.

Hager at Williams v Craig

Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager gave evidence unwillingly in the defamation case between Jordan Williams and Colin Craig.

In the days leading up to this there was some PR positioning on Twitter, led by Matthew Hooton.

You know that was not true and the subpoena is pure PR.

I know first hand that: (1) it is true, (2) the subpoena is not just PR, & (3) you are spreading misinformation.

Geiringer has represented Hager. There was a lot more twittering over this.

This was clarified when Hager appeared in court yesterday – NZH: Colin Craig defamation trial: ‘Dirty Politics’ author Nicky Hager takes the stand

Hager originally agreed to give evidence for Craig but once the trial started he changed his mind.

“When the court case started it looked to be very personal and tawdry,” he explained.

“I did not want to be part of it anymore.”

He wrote to Craig’s’ lawyers and informed them of this, and in return was sent a subpoena ordering him to appear as a witness.

“Now, here I am,” he said.

There he was, for a short time. He read his statement and wasn’t cross examined.

Stuff summed up in Former Conservative board chair denies Colin Craig harassment allegations:

Hager gave evidence about the relationship between political blogs and the mainstream news media, and the media’s tendency to pick up stories of major political scandals broken by those blogs. 

He said Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams would “certainly have known” that Craig’s poem Two of Us would become a national news story after Williams leaked it to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

“Mr Williams would certainly have known it would be picked up and publicised in mainstream media.”

Hager gave evidence to the influence Whale Oil had, making reference to the blog breaking the story of Auckland mayor Len Brown’s affair. 

At the Herald link  Colin Craig defamation trial: ‘Dirty Politics’ author Nicky Hager takes the stand there is video of much of Hager’s statement.

So Hager told the jury what is already widely known about Whale Oil and Dirty Politics. Craig’s defence team obviously thought it was important enough to get him up to Auckland to read for ten minutes.

But it didn’t end there, with both sides of argument claiming victory on Twitter on whether Hager volunteered to appear or not, with Hooton leading the storm.

There’s been a lot of side shows and interrelated issues and agendas surrounding this tawdry case.

 

MacGregor granted restraining order

The cross examination of Colin Craig resumed and completed today, with more embarrassing and disputed details getting raked over – Colin Craig on kiss with press secretary: ‘I did not take my pants off’.

Craig’s wife Helen began giving her evidence – Helen Craig on husband’s ’emotional affair’: I have forgiven him.

Something else emerged from court today that looks like a side issue, but raises some concerns.

NZH: Colin Craig trial: Former press secretary granted restraining order against counsellor:

Details have emerged in court about a restraining order granted to Colin Craig’s former press secretary against a counsellor she alleges posted confidential information about her in a blog post.

The Herald can reveal that Rachel MacGregor was granted a restraining order in the Waitakere District Court against Steve Taylor in May this year.

Taylor is an associate of Craig and a former Conservative Party candidate.

He was the moderator for his allegedly defamatory pamphlet “Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas”.

He is also a counsellor and the director of 24-7 Limited which, according to the company’s website, offers counselling and mediation to individuals, couples and families.

Sometime after MacGregor quit and following the speculation that followed about her shock departure a blog post appeared on the internet containing extremely personal information about her, including information she alleges she disclosed to Taylor.

Williams’ lawyer Peter McKnight asked Craig about Taylor and the blog, which has been removed from the internet. Craig indicated that he knew about it and Taylor’s alleged connection to it.

Craig claimed MacGregor and Taylor were “close friends” but had a “falling out”, which he believed was about money.

Craig said he knew about the restraining order but did not know the details.

McKnight asked Craig if Taylor had posted the blog and if he had disclosed information MacGregor had divulged during a counselling session.

“I think that is what she says, I’m not sure if that is what he says. He is a counsellor,” Craig said. “They were close friends.”

Craig said he had seen the blog post and it contained “quite a bit of factual information” but “it was a terrible thing to do”.

He said there was a lot of personal information about MacGregor that he could have made public himself but had always chosen not to, including in court.

“This sort of stuff could be hugely damaging and I didn’t think it was appropriate to talk about this sort of thing,” Craig explained.

McKnight asked Craig who had written the post and if he thought it was Taylor.

“I asked him whether he did it or not and he didn’t give me a particularly straight answer, which is why I say it was possibly him,” Craig responded.

An ex-friend getting a restraining order against someone who is also a counsellor sounds serious.

If today’s information is anything near accurate I think that Taylor’s actions are in no way justified. I’m critical in general terms, and I also feel  very strongly about anonymous blogs being used to attack or harass people. It’s a stinking misuse of the Internet.

Steve Taylor was placed at 8 on the Conservative Party list last election.  They would have had to have got around 7% for him to have got a seat. He would presumably have been very disappointed when MacGregor resigned two days before the election, effectively destroying any chance of him or the party getting into Parliament.

But being disappointed by an election result is no excuse for anything like this.

Taylor has commented here in the past, at times on issues related to the current defamation case. In light of today’s information from the Court it is not appropriate for him to comment on anything to do with the case or with MacGregor here. If he has any dispute with any of this it should be dealt with through the Court.

UPDATE: Steve Taylor has contacted me and strongly disputes some of the statements made in court in relation to him. He cannot defend himself publicly due to matters still before the Court.

UPDATE2: Taylor has issued a press statement today.

Press Release: Counsellor seeking legal advice regarding defamation claim

The director of Counselling service 24-7 Ltd is currently seeking legal advice regarding what he says are “outrageous and malicious” defamatory claims made against him by the NZ Herald during the Defamation trial of Jordan Williams and Colin Craig being held in Auckland.

“I have today advised a NZ Herald Editorial representative and reporter  of my intention to seek legal advice on the grounds of defamation regarding the claims made in an article published by the NZ Herald” said Mr Taylor.

“A number of false and inaccurate statements were made about me in the article, statements that I believe meet the threshold for defamation, and I am currently seeking legal advice on this matter”.

“No reporter from any media organisation has contacted me to fact-check this article, or any subsequent articles”.

“I am informed today by a representative of the NZ Herald editorial team that media publications are permitted to publish anything they choose to, whether or not what they are publishing is true or not – my legal advice on this matter is markedly different, and this position by the NZ Herald needs to be tested in this matter” said Mr Taylor.

– Two sentences have been edited out.

Williams v Craig into third week

The Jordan Williams versus Colin Craig defamation case is now into it’s third week. Yesterday the cross examination of Craig continued, focussing mostly on the bizarre booklet Craig wrote and distributed to most New Zealand households.

And dissecting the poem Craig sent MacGregor.

This has been quite boring for me, the details have been known for a long time. I have no idea how much it is going to help or damage either side of the case.

I don’t think the jury would have much trouble finding that Craig is a bit of a dork and has done some (at least) silly things, but I don’t know how much that has to do with defamation.

Did Craig lie about Williams? Did Williams lie about Craig? If you lie with dogs do you get fleas?

Detailed coverage again at the Herald.

Colin Craig: Jordan Williams should have checked allegations with me

Colin Craig can’t prove he did not send sex messages to former press secretary

It can be very difficult proving something wasn’t done. I have never sent any sex texts but have no way of proving it.

It looks like the cross examination of Craig has not finished yet so it will presumably resume today.

Witnesses yet to appear may be more interesting. Some are likely to to be Craig fan club contributions, like his wife, but others like Martyn Bradbury and Nicky Hager could have some surprises that may or may not help either side.

Williams v Craig – punching back

The legal punching back has begun in Jordan Williams’ defamation case against Colin Craig.

RNZ: ‘If someone punches, you can punch back’ – Craig’s lawyer

Former leader of the Conservative Party Colin Craig believes the man suing him for defamation had a strategy aimed at removing him from the leadership of the Party.

Mr Craig’s defence was opened by his lawyer Stephen Mills QC, who told the the court the case rested on his client’s right to respond to an attack on his reputation.

“If someone punches you can punch back, within reason. And that’s the type of qualified privilege that Mr Craig is raising as a defence here. That he was responding to an attack upon his reputation by the things the plaintiff did,” he said.

After Mr Mills finished his brief statement, Colin Craig took to the stand, watched by Jordan Williams and Cameron Slater, whose blog, Whale Oil, published allegations about Mr Craig’s relationship with his press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

Throughout early June last year, Mr Craig came under increasing pressure from his board, who had been told the allegations against him were about to go public.

When various revelations about Mr Craig were made on the Whale Oil Blog, he described the media onslaught as unrelenting.

“It’s dynamic material. If you’ve got sex, poems and money – six figure sums – all covered up in secret and you put that into a blog, every person in the media is going to want a piece of that story.”

“And that’s exactly what happened,” he said.

Mr Craig spent much of his time on the stand listing the media coverage that he said left his reputation in ruins.

He told the court he suspected Jordan Williams was behind the leak of information, and he had been proved right.

The jury will get to decide whether the punching back was justified in the circumstances or if it unfairly smeared Williams.

But before that Craig will continue giving his evidence today. Perhaps cross examination of him will also at least begin.

There are a number of other witnesses lined up to support Craig’s case after he has finished

Craig’s case outlined

The last witnesses for Jordan Williams gave evidence this morning, and this afternoon Colin Craig’s lawyer outlined their defence and then Craig began giving his evidence.

Again the Herald coverage is excellent – Colin Craig’s lawyer: ‘This trial is not about Rachel MacGregor’

Colin Craig’s lawyer has opened his case at the former Conservative Party leader’s High Court defamation trial, saying the case is not about Rachel MacGregor.

Stephen Mills QC says while Craig’s former press secretary’s evidence is relevant in parts – the trial and the issue at hand was not directly related to her, her relationship with Craig or her shock resignation.

Mills told the jury they needed to reflect on Williams and his actions, and whether he “acted with honesty and integrity”.

He said his client’s reputation was “reasonably shattered” by the “rumours” and “untrue statements about him” spread primarily by Williams.

“The defences that are being raised here are very standard for a defamation case – truth, what’s called honest opinion and privilege,” he said.

After Craig those who will take the stand:

  • Craig’s wife Helen
  • Family First director Bob McCoskerie
  • Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar
  • Former members of the Conservative Party
  • Martyn Bradbury
  • One of Craig’s staffers.
  • Others involved in the publication of the contentious pamphlet

Dirty Politics author Nicky Hagar would also give evidence about how blogs influence the mainstream media.

Dirty Politics looks like a significant part of Craig’s defence. Stuff perhaps nails the crux of it in Colin Craig says he thought of Rachel MacGregor as ‘like a sister’.

Mills highlighted how Williams had not only approached Conservative board members regarding Craig’s alleged sexual harassment of MacGregor, but he also forwarded poems Craig sent MacGregor to blog site Whale Oil. 

“You might want to reflect on, as the trial goes along, about whose interests were being served when Mr Williams gave that poem to Whale Oil,” Mills said. 

That is likely to be significant. Williams had denied any ‘Dirty Politics’ type attack.

In his evidence Craig said that he knew his affection for his then press secretary went “too far” but says he thought it was reciprocated.

Williams v Craig – cross examining MacGregor

Detailed coverage of Wednesday week 2 from Anna Leask at the Herald:Colin Craig defamation case: Rachel MacGregor grilled over resignation

Colin Craig’s former press secretary Rachel MacGregor says in the months leading up to her resignation her opinion of her boss had deteriorated “drastically”, to the point she “could not stand the sight of him”.

MacGregor has continued to give evidence this afternoon at the former Conservative Party leader’s High Court defamation trial.

This afternoon, Craig’s lawyer Stephen Mills QC questioned MacGregor on her alleged pay dispute with her former boss and the timing of her resignation.

• Rachel MacGregor reveals how her frustration over an alleged pay dispute with Colin Craig led to her resignation
• Former press secretary claims her boss was ‘mean’ and made her sleep on a couch during a business trip
• MacGregor says she discussed Craig’s ‘odd’ behaviour with her then-boyfriend
• Court hears messages written by MacGregor to her boss, including: ‘You make my heart melt, love ya, night night’
• MacGregor says defamation trial and spotlight on her involvement has ‘ruined’ her life

MacGregor’s testimony is generally very scathing of Craig, but with some contradictions.

But MacGregor has also been critical of Williams saying she has been used by him as well as by Craig.

MacGregor was then questioned by lawyer Peter McKnight, acting for Jordan Williams who has brought the defamation case against Craig.

He asked her how she felt about her personal life being scrutinised during the trial.

“I didn’t want to be part of it, I just wanted to stay right out of it but hello – here I am,” MacGregor said.

She felt she was on “trial by proxy” and being used by Williams and Craig.

“They brought me into it this, their defamation thing, two men angry about something … this is so heavily weighted against me.”

McKnight asked Craig if she had been sexually harassed and treated badly by Craig.

“Absolutely. It really has ruined my life … I am overweight … this has impacted on my family, my friends, my health,” she said.

“I can’t wait for this to be over. I wish these dudes would stop suing each other so this could be over for me.”

MacGregor is appearing as a witness for Williams, and this was in response to questions from Williams’ lawyer. It paints a poor picture of both sides of the argument.

Regardless of the legal arguments – I presume we are going to get to those, so far it seems to have mostly been revealing as much personally damning information as possible – I don’t think anyone is coming out of this looking good. It seems to be more of a battle of attrition rather than a battle for honour and reputation.

I understand that Craig’s defence begins today.

NOTE: Some old private communications that were illegally obtained resurfaced yesterday online. Please don’t link to these or quote from them here. I understand that there is an injunction that prohibits publication.