Craig versus MacGregor today

Colin Craig will cross examine Rachel MacGregor today in the Craig v Slater defamation case. It seems odd that Craig, who MacGregor still claims sexualy harassed her, gets to question her in person in court, but according to ‘Whaleoil Staff’

Whaleoil understands Mr Craig has been handed a strict set of rules issued by the court, and if he does not stick to them, then the court will step in.

Things didn’t seem to go well for Craig in court yesterday when MacGregor gave evidence. Especially (as reported by Stuff):

Rachel MacGregor has told a court that Colin Craig threatened her by saying he’d set aside $1 million to “destroy” her.

Craig’s former press secretary claims the threat was made during a confidential Human Rights Commission mediation after she brought a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Cameron Slater’s wife Juana atkins (SB) has posted Best day in court ever! but expressing herself with a depiction of violence against Craig doesn’t seem a wise thing to do during a court case.



MacGregor claims Craig threatened her

In the Craig v Slater defamation case today Rachel MacGregor has alleged that Colin Craig threatened to ‘destroy” her.

Yesterday things too a turn for the worse for Slater. Today it looks bad for Craig – but there will be more to come which could swing either way.

Stuff: Colin Craig threatened to ‘destroy’ Rachel MacGregor, court told

Rachel MacGregor has told a court that Colin Craig threatened her by saying he’d set aside $1 million to “destroy” her.

MacGregor said that during the mediation, “Colin was adamantly saying he treated me like a sister”.

“Colin was just saying, ‘yeah well I’d kiss my sister, I’d do what I said in the letter to my sister. Me and my lawyer thought it was absurd.

“The only other thing I remember, was that he said he set aside a million dollars and that he was going to destroy me.”

The sexual harassment complaint had been withdrawn as a result of their settlement agreement, but Henry asked MacGregor whether she had withdrawn the allegations.

“There is no way I have ever withdrawn my allegations,” MacGregor said.

“To this day my allegations stand concrete strong. I withdrew my complaint because I had no longer time or energy to deal with this very weird man. I withdrew the complaint because I couldn’t afford to deal with him any more.”

Henry asked MacGregor how she felt when Craig breached the confidentiality of their settlement agreement by speaking publicly about her at a press conference in June 2015.

“I was mortified. He was trying to make me out to be crazy. He was trying to fudge the facts.”

It will be up to Craig to try to deal with this in cross examination.

MacGregor gives evidence

Rachel MacGregor started giving evidence in the Craig v Slater defamation trial yesterday. Some odf the details are already known but MacGregor emphasises how she felt about her relationship with Craig.

NZ Herald: Rachel MacGregor gives evidence in Colin Craig v Cameron Slater defamation trial

Colin Craig’s former press secretary Rachel MacGregor says despite the politician’s “dodgy poems”, shoulder massages and “sleep trick” she felt she was forced to stay in the job.

She said during her time at TVNZ she had put up with “inappropriate males”, but that Craig’s mention that the cut of her top was too low, followed by a letter, made her feel uneasy.

She said she outlaid her concerns and the pair talked of setting professional boundaries.

“As we know with Colin Craig he likes to do things in a weird way, a kind of quirky way.”

She thought the pair had a “good working relationship” after the boundaries were established, before Craig “had gone and broken them”.

She told the court she was curious to see what Craig had written but “was really offended” by the “really bad poems”.

“It was awful actually, especially because he was going into detail about me physically, it was really disgusting.”

Just days before her resignation, while on a flight from Napier to Auckland on September 14, 2014, Craig claims MacGregor said: “You know me better than anyone, Colin … I want to be more than just your press secretary”.

“I absolutely guarantee you that I never propositioned Mr Craig for me to be anything more than his press secretary … it is very convenient for Mr Craig’s story,” MacGregor said.

Henry asked MacGregor about an incident on election night in 2011, when Craig kissed MacGregor and touched her breast.

MacGregor said she stopped the incident and “lost faith” in Craig.

“I thought that he was trustworthy, but I lost a lot of trust in him,” MacGregor said.

“I still wanted to keep my job, the car that I [drove], Colin owned … I had to keep my job to stay afloat really.”

Craig will cross-examine MacGregor today.

In the meantime MacGregor has spoken out about how media has treated her at The Wireless in Rachel MacGregor has had enough of the media’s bullshit

Since it began last week, the Colin Craig trial – in which he and Whale Oil’s Cameron Slater are suing each other over defamatory statements each said the other published about them – has quickly replaced the Eminem v National fiasco as the nation’s favourite silly trial.

It is easy to see how the case has become the focus of such schadenfreude: the men are seen by many as repugnant, the poems are ridiculous and there is entertainment to be had.

It’s been three years since she left her job as press secretary to then-Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, alleging that in during her time working for him she had suffered ongoing sexual harassment. Craig denied the allegations.

Rachel MacGregor has not found it so funny.

It’s been three years since she left her job as press secretary to then-Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, alleging that in during her time working for him she had suffered ongoing sexual harassment. Craig denied the allegations.

Slater published documents and articles alleging the claims were correct and the pair have been fighting about it ever since.

During those three years, MacGregor’s efforts to put the incident in the past have been repeatedly thwarted, and as Craig’s many litigious issues play out in court and in public she has become a reluctant recurring figure in the media.

The Craig and Slater trial is yet another block in the road.

And MacGregor complains about how some of the media has covered her involvement, and specifically complained about a semi-satirical piece in NZ Herald (which has had an odd way of covering the current trial)..

Bound by a confidentiality agreement with Craig, MacGregor feels she’s “essentially been gagged”- leaving media outlets free, it seems, to editorialise her role in a case of creative licence not generally associated with the news media.

She tries to address her concerns without breaching the confidentiality agreement

Braunias in particular seems to have chosen to run with the narrative of a consensual relationship describing Craig’s “unholy lust” for MacGregor with whom he had been “formerly in a relationship that started with a kiss and never actually went any further”.

Huh? As Cameron Slater said of the relationship in court on Friday (and you know things are bad when you’re quoting Cameron Slater) “there was no evidence at all, and there still is no evidence that it was reciprocated in any way”. Since when were sexual harassment victims fair game for satire?

While MacGregor is unable to comment on her relationship with Craig, the tone of the satire has disturbed her.

“It’s absolutely misrepresenting me, and it’s making a joke out of an issue that’s actually very serious.”

And difficult for her to address.

From the outside it seems like a kind of purgatory – both central and peripheral to a highly public, and somehow neverending series of disputes, she has somehow found herself cast as a plot device, her humanity and agency long since forgotten in this war between dreadful men.

The men involved in this case and in Williams v Craig – Colin Craig, Cameron Slater and Jordan Williams – have been guilty of some dreadful behaviour. This has been revealed in their arguments over defamation, with MacGregor caught in the middle, gagged.

“Unfortunately, this story does involve me to quite a large degree,” she tells me. “Even though the court case itself is not about me, it unfortunately is about me, if that makes sense.”

Though her own case with Craig has been through the Human Rights Tribunal, neither party are permitted to discuss the particulars of the case due to a confidentiality agreement (a clause Craig was found to have breached by speaking about her in media interviews).

MacGregor has kept her end of the deal – something which has left her open to speculation and judgment.

One way or another, women who report their abusers rarely go unpunished. MacGregor’s ordeal is a startling reminder that, when given the chance, the old guard media are ready and willing to partake in that punishment.

It is telling that, in a society now entirely familiar with the concepts of rape culture and victim blaming, we are so keen to sidestep Craig’s alleged actions, while projecting an assumed narrative on such a complex and troubling situation.

One could argue that the target here is Craig’s inherent strangeness – those are some pretty wack poems after all. But by choosing to find him ridiculous we run the risk of normalising what may have been reprehensible actions while also re-victimising MacGregor. Without knowing the full detail of the Human Rights Tribunal case, we just don’t know.

“I guess my message is, please take what you read with a grain of salt and try to understand the context in which it’s been written,” she says.

“Until you have the facts, just withhold judgment and try to think about this a little bit more deeply than just having a laugh about it.”

Most of us will are unlikely to know all of the facts.

As far as I’m aware she hasn’t chosen to be involved in these public legal spectacles. In Williams v Craig she made it clear to Williams she didn’t want anything revealed or published.

I have posted this to give MacGregor more of an opportunity to air her views, albeit limited by the confidentiality agreement.

I won’t allow this to be used as an opportunity to promote agendas, or to make one-sided or unfounded claims or claims based on confidential information, or to attack or criticise MacGregor personally.

Craig v Slater – witness revelations

The new witness has been allowed to give evidence in Craig v Slater – it is a lawyer who was acting for Craig on a separate matter, but who was also a friend of Slater’s.

Slater used information given to him in confidence by the lawyer to attack Craig, based on incorrect assumptions.

Stuff: Colin Craig’s lawyer was source for Cameron Slater

Cameron Slater used a lawyer acting for Colin Craig as a source for publishing allegations Craig was in an improper relationship with more than one woman.

Madeleine Flannagan was an Auckland lawyer working on an application by Craig and his wife to adopt a child in 2015.

She had also been friends with Cameron Slater for around 11 years.

Flannagan said she became concerned about allegations in the media, driven by Slater, that Craig had sexually harassed his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor. She was worried about how it would affect the Craigs’ adoption application.

In June 2015, Flannagan phoned Slater asking him what other information he had, saying she could not disclose who her client was and the conversation must remain confidential.

However, Slater inferred from the phone call that Flannagan was a lawyer acting on behalf of a victim of Craig’s, and then used her as the source for allegations he published on Whaleoil that Craig had a “second victim”.

Slater’s lawyer Brian Henry argued Craig was using Flanagan to find out how much information Slater had.

“Do you agree that Mr Craig was using you to try and find out what Mr Slater knew?” he asked.

“Well it was my idea to ring Cameron,” Flannagan said. “I don’t think Mr Craig even knew I had that relationship.”

Subsequently both parties tried to rope her into defamation proceedings.

When Slater was recalled to the witness box by Henry, he said he found it difficult to describe his current relationship with Flannagan.

“I’m just lost for words at the betrayal of someone I considered a friend.

“If I knew she was a lawyer for Mr Craig I would have never spoken to her. This entire allegation would never have come out but for the deception placed upon me.”

Justice Kit Toogood asked Slater: “You say you felt betrayed, but did you not betray her express injunction that this [conversation] cannot go anywhere else?”

“I did dance around on that but I guess technically I did,” Slater said.

There could be a bit more dancing around of different kinds now this has come out.

Other reports:

RNZ:  Craig’s lawyer used as source for Whale Oil blog, court told

NZ Herald: Colin Craig’s lawyer and friend of Cameron Slater gives evidence

Twists in Craig v Slater

The Craig v Slater defamation trial ended it’s second week on Friday with media silence. On Saturday ‘Whaleoil Staff’ posted:

Yesterday, the media published nothing regarding the Colin Craig v Cameron Slater defamation case.

1/ the day finished early for a reason we can’t publish

2/ critical twists and turns are suppressed

3/ something…. happened

Yes, I’m teasing you.  But I wish I could actually tell you.  I just about begged to be allowed to give a broad-brush outline of events in court on Friday, but I got a firm “no”.

In subsequent posts and in comments both Pete Belt and SB/Spanish Bride (Juana Atkins) revealed a little. Whale Oil seems to be fighting two battles, one in court and one on it’s website.

Despite the firm “no” ‘Whaleoil Staff’ (presumably Belt) gives more of a broad brush outline.

On Friday, new evidence was introduced which I described as a “TV plot-twist”.

Over the weekend, legal manoeuvrings have taken place where both parties are stuck until the judge can untie the knot.  I suspect a fair amount of this morning will be spent “in chambers” (just the judge and the parties, no public).

Because of Friday, I was expecting a brand new (up to now unknown) witness to appear first thing today.  Because of the manoeuvrings, it may be decided that one party in this case hasn’t had enough information and/or time to prepare for the witness’ appearance.  That’s my personal guess.  Cam will tell me nothing, so it really is a guess.

I’m not sure what the Court will do.  Either let the witness take the stand anyway and offer the other side the option to recall later or to shelve it and just progress the case as if last Friday never happened.

The pressure is ratcheting up on everyone involved.  Rumours are floating around that yet another media story that is only tangentially related to the case may break this week as well.   And just to add fuel to the fire, that independent story and the court case hold-up this morning overlap.  Even though they have nothing to do with each other.That’s about all I can say about it this morning.

to the case may break this week as well.   And just to add fuel to the fire, that independent story and the court case hold-up this morning overlap.  Even though they have nothing to do with each other.

That’s about all I can say about it this morning.

A convoluted description of a ‘rumoured’ media story.

Does Whale Oil have a different story on Craig? I doubt it, surely they wouldn’t post a story on Craig during the trial, even if ‘only tangentially related to the case’.

‘May break this week’ is also an odd comment. If it is new news then it would ‘break’ when it happens and is known about.

A rumoured story that may break some time in the future sounds more like something from the past that has been dug up. I can find no new news on Craig or Slater.

“That independent story and the court case hold-up this morning overlap” – Belt knows something else that is going to happen this morning and will become news?

Craig v Slater trial – funkstille

There has been radio silence (no media coverage) of the Craig v Slater defamation trial yesterday for legal reasons that will remain unknown until next week when the trial resumes. However ‘Whaleoil Staff’ couldn’t resist saying something about it – against advice.

Yesterday there were no media reports of the trial, and I couldn’t find anything on it this morning.

Until Whaleoil Staff explained. They claim to be journalists and media, and have reported on court proceedings, so I believe I’m allowed to repeat a media report from Court.

Yesterday, the media published nothing regarding the Colin Craig v Cameron Slater defamation case.

1/ the day finished early for a reason we can’t publish

2/ critical twists and turns are suppressed

3/ something…. happened

Yes, I’m teasing you.  But I wish I could actually tell you.  I just about begged to be allowed to give a broad-brush outline of events in court on Friday, but I got a firm “no”.

‘Whaleoil Staff’ then goes on to give a broad brush outline of events.

The day started off with Cam Slater in the witness stand and Colin Craig continuing his questioning.  It was mostly around the issue where the responsibility lies if one media organisation republishes content from another.

After Cam was stood down from the witness stand, Colin Craig asked the Court for permission to introduce new evidence.  After some debate, the Court has allowed it.

This caused a TV-like plot twist that left everyone reeling.

Sadly, that’s the extent to which I’m allowed to cover the detail.   But it explains why no other media has filed on Friday’s proceedings, and we all will have to wait until 10 am Monday morning for the case to continue to discover what, if anything, will be allowed to be published.

With this end of week cliff hanger perhaps Whale Oil will get the attention and publicity they seem to want when Court resumes on Monday.

UPDATE: ‘Spanish Bride’ (Juana Atkins, WO author and Slater’s wife) posted in what looks like graphical exasperation, and has added in comments:

I wish I could tell you all what was revealed unexpectedly yesterday but I can’t. Suffice to say it threw the court into disarray and we were unable to continue. We finished for the day early and retired to a wine bar to process the revelations.

Edit: The revelation struck Cam speechless and I was so shocked tears came to my eyes.

I can imagine that a court case like this with potentially so much money at stake – and potentially the future of Whale Oil – it will be harrowing and emotionally draining. And to be hit with something totally unexpected will make it even harder. The pressure is showing.

Pete Belt has also posted ‘An Easy Weekend’

You people say “I don’t know how they do it every day, filling that blog”.

Well, I do.  And I’m seriously ground down.

So if some of you want to fire off a guest post, I’ll put them up if you email me.

We’re probably going to have a pretty soft weekend to try and recuperate a bit.  I normally don’t let you people see what it takes but I was still working at 1:30am the night before to get all the stuff sorted.

With “developments” late on Friday, it may be that the court case will run over its three week timetable.  So to ensure those of us that make the smoke and mirrors do what they do are not going to fall apart by the end of next week, we’re going to phone it in this weekend.

It will have been a full on week for them. And the trial may be only half way through, according to a comment from Belt:

But I had paced myself for a 3 week trial. Told my mum I was coming to visit for a bit afterwards. And now it looks like it may be a 4 week trial. So it required a reset in thinking, planning and pacing 🙂

The strain is palpable.

UPDATE: One media article has since come out this morning but it’s in general about the trial only – Craig v Slater: Please make it stop

What to make of the shabby and often excruciating slow-motion train wreck smashing into tiny pieces every day at courtroom 14 in the High Court at Auckland, where former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater are talking about sex while going at each other in a defamation counterclaim?

Craig claims Slater wrote libellous things about his conduct with his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor and “other victims”. Slater claims Craig wrote libellous things in response. Yeah, whatever. It’s all so unseemly. And kind of pathetic. Not even titillating. “Please,” emailed one of our most cherished broadcasters this week, when I mentioned to her how I was spending my days, “make it stop”.

…Forget Slater. He doesn’t give a stuff what Craig says about him, couldn’t care less. He’s heard a lot worse, he’s a tough cookie. The real damage is to MacGregor. She took her boss to the Human Rights Commission on sexual harassment allegations, and this is what happens?

…Slater’s lines are the same: “Politics is the best game in town. There are no rules”, etc. At one point he said, “Most MPs I know use the same cab driver all the time because they know they can trust them.” Everybody’s got something to hide. Yeah, whatever.

…And so there’s Craig, the politician manque (everybody’s got something to hide, including a manque), with his soft-faced McKenzie friend Tom Cleary beside him, much of the time going it alone, bashing through the jungles of his personal life. As a skilled defamation lawyer performing the art of cross-examination, he makes a good accountant. “You can’t ask questions he can’t answer,” Justice Kit Toogood admonished him, during his lengthy cross-exam of Slater. On another occasion, he said: “This is not appropriate, Mr Craig.”

So much inappropriate behaviour.

Craig’s argument with Slater is all mano a mano but the people who have to suffer it the most are two women. MacGregor is due to appear in court on Monday or Tuesday. This week, it was Helen Craig’s turn.

“Horrible…Deeply upsetting…Stressful…Horrible….A nightmare….Horrible,” she said in court. She was describing the trauma of reading Slater’s blog posts on Whaleoil. What about her husband’s long, secret history of “inappropriate” poems and all the rest of it? “I was not happy with Colin…I was hurt and annoyed.” Annoyed? Is that all? Improper to ask and even to wonder.

Private lives, private distresses.

All exposed in court – two people trying to prove points against each other, and the rest are collateral damage.

Hooton to appear for Slater

From Whale Oil’s daily report on the defamation trial between Colin Craig and Cameron Slater:

As for today: another day of Colin Craig questioning Cam Slater, although there is an expectation is won’t be all day.  Mr Craig will wind up his questions, and then there will be an opportunity for Brian Henry to ask a few, followed by the Court.

If the judge questions Slater that could be interesting. It will be quite different to being questioned by Craig.

Then Cam Slater’s witnesses will take the stand.  Matthew Hooton is scheduled to the first.

And Hooton could be interesting too, both in what Slater’s team want him to say, and in what Craig asks him.

As you might have gathered from Cam’s wife, while he’s on the stand, we can’t discuss the case with him in any way.

I can’t even describe what I think he’s doing well, or not doing well, in case he reads it on the blog.  Hopefully we can have a catch up after today.

This makes some of the commentary on Whale Oil somewhat surprising, in posts, in  what has been said by Pete Belt and Spanish bride in comments, and in comments under other pseudonyms that have been allowed.

There has been an obvious allowance for derogatory comments aimed at Craig, and supportive comments for Slater. Slater himself has commented occasionally but that seems to have stopped since he started giving evidence.

There has also been defence of and promotion of Whale Oil along similar lines to evidence being given by Slater.

The daily reports have been posted under ‘Whaleoil Staff’, which I presume is Pete Belt not wanting to be open about who is writing them (I can’t be sure due to the anonymity).

Craig, Slater told off by judge

Today Colin Craig continued to question Cameron Slater, and both were told off by judge for how they were conducting themselves.

Stuff: Judge scolds Craig and Slater in the High Court

Craig, who is representing himself, was cross examining Slater on Thursday, when Justice Kit Toogood took exception to his methods.

“Mr Craig, you need to bear in mind there is not unlimited court time,” Justice Toogood said.

Craig had been repeatedly asking Slater the same question, which was “unhelpful”.

“Cross-examination is not an exercise in trying to persuade a witness to your point of view. It is soliciting evidence.”

That’s one of the problems with someone with little or no court experience representing themselves. And perhaps someone with an obsession to prove themselves right or their adversary wrong.

When Slater again insulted Craig while answering a question, Justice Toogood interjected again: “Mr Slater I said to you before, I don’t need editorial comment. Answer the questions and confine yourself to the answers please.”

Sounds like trying too much to play to an audience outside the court.

The judge was unhappy with the slow pace of the trial, telling both parties they needed to “think about duration”.

“You will need to understand we can’t just conjure up court and judicial time out of the air.”

Three weeks may not be long enough (the are currently in the second week).

Earlier they got into a religious argument.

“Not one of my Christian friends ever talks about speaking with God,” Slater said.

“And none of them certainly speaks about getting messages from God, and I thought that was weird.”

Slater was referring to a letter Craig wrote to his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, on Christmas Eve 2014, in which he claimed he’d received instructions from God to “look after Rachel”.

The two men are both Christian, but appear to have differing views on the nature of prayer.

“As a Christian yourself, isn’t prayer a practice in the Christian religion?” Craig asked.

“I certainly have never had a conversation with God,” Slater replied.

“Isn’t prayer speaking to God?” Craig said.

I don’t know what people do when they pray. Do they speak top God? Perhaps it varies.

“It requires two parties to have a conversation,” Slater said. “I started wondering what accent did [God] have? Considering one of the poems was [titled] Two of Me, I wondered whether you’d actually been speaking with yourself.”

They also discussed Craig’s relationship with his party secretary.

Slater said he didn’t believe Craig’s relationship with MacGregor was consensual, but possibly the result of a power imbalance.

“If I was a female employee getting letters commenting on my breasts, saying how beautiful I was, I wouldn’t have gone to the Human Rights Commission; I would have gone to the police.”

Craig also asked Slater if he accepted it was possible for people working together to develop more than just a professional relationship.

“If they think with their nether regions and not with their heads it can happen,” Slater said.

That may be fodder for tomorrow morning’s Whale Oil trial progress post but no wonder the judge is getting fed up.

And no wonder post of the media are paying scant interest. The Court seems to be being used for a battle of the witless.

Slater: “I’ve had a legion of supporters watching”

More from Cameron Slater when questioned by Colin Craig in their defamation trial yesterday.

RNZ: Craig vs Slater: Whale Oil blogger gives evidence

The cross-examination began with Mr Slater explaining why his blog was the most popular while left-wing blogs were run by a bunch of “moaning Labour Party supporters”.

“You have to provide relevant, funny, pertinent information for readers otherwise they don’t come. It’s the ultimate market forces in action. They come because they like what they see. That’s why they buy merchandise, that’s why they back me. That’s why everyday in court I’ve had a legion of supporters watching.”

Mr Craig, who is representing himself in court, then asked Mr Slater about politics.

Mr Slater replied: “It’s in my DNA, politics. It’s the best show in town. There’s no rules.”

Mr Craig then asked Mr Slater who was fair game.

“Well, if they’re standing up on a platform of conservative values – hate the gays, all of that sort of thing – and then in the background their personal life is a complete and utter wreck where they’re trying to get their leg over with various different people, then they’re a hypocrite and they become a target for a story,” Mr Slater said.

On politics:

“Politics is about actions and reactions and there’s this ‘motherhood and apple pie version’ that some politicians have that’s rather quaint – that we should all hug each other, and eat apple pie and thank Mum for it all and be pleasant. Politics is a dirty, despicable game and it’s played by dirty despicable people and they can be of any persuasion – left, right, whatever. But if you don’t acknowledge that’s what politics is about, then you’re going to get nowhere.”

Mr Slater told the court he believed he had influenced the outcome of elections.

The orca affect?

More from NZ City: Politicians despicable, Slater tells Craig

Blogger Cameron Slater has told a court his posts are so popular it makes him a target for attack from people, such as former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

Under cross-examination by Mr Craig – who is representing himself – at the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday, Slater said people such as Nicky Hager in his book Dirty Politics had regularly attacked him because he was influential.

“That is why I’m targeted and continue to be targeted by people such as yourself,” he told Mr Craig.

Mr Craig later asked Slater if his blogs were a political force that influenced votes and altered political outcomes, to which Slater replied “yes”.

Slater said modern politics was a game that had only just graduated beyond the barbaric violence that often accompanied Ancient Rome’s political life, saying “politics is a dirty game, played by dirty despicable people”.

He said he did not hide his opinion in his posts and on some issues could be considered a political lobbyist.

There’s what I think are legitimate questions about who has written posts at Whale Oil posed under Slater’s name. Not disclosing authorship is in my opinion unethical whether a journalist or a blogger.

However, he said he was never paid for blog posts but did receive income as a consultant providing media training or helping clients, such as politicians, prepare for hostile question and answer sessions.

I won’t go into that at this stage, it may be dealt with more in the case currently before the court. It has already been covered in Hager’s Dirty Politics book but that was three years ago.

Whale Oil continues their daily coverage today, and already there’s another suspect looking comment from one of the legion of supporters, ‘rantykiwi’:

After discussion over coffee I think the phrase for the boss to drop in court today is “orchestrated litany of lies”

There’s been a few comments dropped into the discussions at WO attacking Craig, but this one is odd given that it’s Slater being questioned.

I wonder who ‘the boss’ is.



Craig representing himself

Graeme Edgeler linked to an interesting pre-trial judgment (4 May 2017) in the Craig v Slater defamation. It explains that while Craig is representing himself he has legal advice on hand. It also explains some other aspects of the case.

[1] Mr Colin Craig is the plaintiff and counterclaim defendant in defamation proceedings initiated by him against the first and second defendants. Mr Craig’s
claims and the counterclaim by Mr Slater are set down for a three-week trial before
me, sitting without a jury, commencing on 8 May 2017.

[2] This judgment concerns an application by Mr Craig for permission to be assisted in Court by a McKenzie friend; that is, a support person who may attend as a friend  and sit beside an unrepresented party to civil litigation to provide support, take notes, make suggestions and give advice. A McKenzie friend does not have the right to take part in the proceedings as an advocate, although the Court has a discretion to allow the friend to play a greater role, such as speaking for the party, if that is thought appropriate. That discretion is exercised sparingly.

[3] The unusual feature of this case is that the McKenzie friend from whom Mr Craig wishes to obtain assistance throughout the trial of the proceeding is a practising barrister, Mr Thomas Cleary.

[4] Although the defendants do not object in principle to the appointment of a
McKenzie friend for Mr Craig, they oppose the granting of permission for Mr Cleary
to act in that capacity.

[5] After hearing from Mr Craig and from Ms Foster on behalf of the defendants,
I granted Mr Craig permission to use Mr Cleary in court as a McKenzie friend.

It also explains why the judge had previously granted an application by Craig to have the trial hear by a judge alone rather than a jury due to complex legal arguments around qualified privilege.

Some background:

[7] To explain the nature of the proceeding, I adopt the following summary from
a judgment dated 12 April 2017, in which I granted an application by Mr Craig for
an order under s 19A(5) of the Judicature Act 1908 that the case be tried before a
judge without a jury:

[2] During the 2014 general election campaign, Mr Craig was leader of the Conservative Party and a parliamentary candidate. Shortly before the election, his press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, resigned. Ms MacGregor subsequently made a complaint that she had been sexually harassed by Mr Craig. Sexual harassment proceedings before the Human Rights Review Tribunal between Ms MacGregor and Mr Craig were settled in May 2015. As a result of public  controversy about Mr Craig’s relationship with Ms MacGregor and the reasons  for her resignation, members of the board of the Conservative Party raised questions about Mr Craig’s continued leadership of the party. In June 2015, Mr Craig resigned as leader. He made public statements about the matter, including at press conferences on 22 June 2015 and 29 July 2015 and in a booklet which was distributed to members of the public. The publications contained allegations about Mr Slater’s and Whale Oil’s involvement in a campaign to force Mr Craig’s resignation as party leader. In June and July 2015, Mr Slater made numerous statements on radio and television, and in blog posts on the Whale Oil blogsite, about Mr Craig’s relationship with Ms McGregor; the settlement of the sexual harassment proceedings; Mr Craig’s resignation and related matters.

[3] The proceeding concerns allegedly defamatory statements published by Mr Slater and [the second defendant] about Mr Craig, and by Mr Craig about Mr Slater. In defence of Mr Craig’s claims, Mr Slater and [the second defendant] plead denials of allegedly defamatory meanings and the affirmative defences of truth, honest opinion and qualified privilege. Mr Craig pleads similar defences in response to the counterclaim.

The judge is not surprisingly referring to Williams v Craig where the decision was set aside by Judge Katz.

[8] In ordering that the case be tried before a judge without a jury, I held that the
defences of qualified privilege which are advanced in the case “will involve mainly
the consideration of difficult questions of law”, particularly relating to the
respective functions of judge and jury in addressing the defence. I relied, in part, on
observations to the same effect by Katz J in an interlocutory judgment in the separate but related case of Williams v Craig, a proceeding issued in the Auckland Registry of the Court under CIV-2015-404-1845, in which Mr Craig is sued by a Mr Jordan Williams, a former Conservative Party colleague of Mr Craig.

The relevance of two other proceedings:

[10] It is relevant to the present application that there are at least two other
defamation proceedings arising from events related to the matters referred to above
at. One is Williams v Craig, the trial of which resulted in a jury awarding Mr Williams a total of $1.27 million in damages, said by the trial Judge to be the highest sum of damages ever awarded for defamation in New Zealand by a significant margin.

[11] The other related proceeding is Craig v Stringer, issued in the Christchurch
Registry of the Court under CIV-2015-409-575, in which Mr Craig sued a former
member of the Board of the Conservative Party, Mr John Stringer…The case, however, settled before trial.

Full judgement: