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.

SBvCraig.jpg

x

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.

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:

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/6f0a58a15a4e51e437aaa5e24/files/1b7215f3-42cb-4dc3-a8c7-505613d4bbfe/_2017_NZHC_874.pdf

 

Sound bite day in court

Yesterday Cameron Slater outlined his case in the defamation proceedings between him and Colin Craig. Today Craig questioned Slater, who seemed to relish the chance to promote himself and Whale Oil. I just don’t know how much this will promote his chances with the judge.

At Whale Oil Slater’s approach was previewed by Pete Belt: “Cam is providing testimony in handy sound bites. Journos will be seriously conflicted.”

Slater had already said yesterday “I am by profession a journalist; I was simply doing my job.”

Newstalk ZB: Colin Craig and Cameron Slater clash in courtroom

Slater said the personal affairs of politicians needed to be exposed if they reflected hypocrisy.

“If you put yourself in public, then yes, you get a free hit. But (journalists) have to stay within bounds of law. You have to tell the truth”.

“But just because someone doesn’t like what’s being said about them, doesn’t mean it’s defamatory.”

Plenty of legal cases around the world suggested there was a “free-for-all on politicians”, he said.

Responding to a long series of questions, he also provided a string of opinions and criticism about numerous notable New Zealand journalists and the mainstream media, and talked at length about the high readership of his blog, saying “the stats show I’m a winner”.

“The numbers reflect the content. It’s content that’s relevant to readers. It’s daylight between me and second”.

In contrast Monday Slater’s lawyer Brian Henry referred to Whale as “a small blog site”.

Stuff: Insults fly at Colin Craig, Cameron Slater defamation hearing

“Most people in New Zealand do not have vast resources to willy nilly sue everyone that has crossed them in some way.”

“Politicians or people with thin skins shouldn’t really get into the game of politics, because abuse gets hurled around all the time.”

Slater may love the abusive approach but his thin skin shows when challenged with reasoned criticism.

“I wrote a few posts that at best, 6000 people read.

The stats must only show he’s a winner when it suits his narrative.

“It was a massive overreaction on your part and made worse by the fact you lied about me.”

“Your way is a quaint old-fashioned view of pencil-pushing reporters who are very shy and call everyone ‘mister'”.

“Times have moved on from the 1800s and it’s time you moved on as well.”

On politics, rules and standards:

“It’s in my DNA, politics. It’s the best game in town. There are no rules.”

He didn’t necessarily need to adhere to journalistic standards, or differentiate between fact and opinion, he said.

“You’re trying to hold me to a standard that other people are holding themselves to, but I don’t subscribe to those standards.

“I do operate to standards but they’re just not written down.”

However legal standards are written down, and that’s what will decide this case.

Asked whether he had an obligation to test the accuracy of facts, Slater responded: “How can you test the accuracy of a known liar?”

Craig also asked Slater whether he’d used the words “ratbag and scumbag” to describe him.

“Well, you are both,” Slater replied.

Is attack always the best way of legal defence?

Steve Braunias tried another lighter approach (a curious approach by the herald): Craig v Slater – Great comedy, but no one laughed

“I have a legion of followers…My blog is better than every other blog…In a few short months my figures will skyrocket. They will double…I busted Len Brown…I break a lot of stories…I’m respected for my political views.

“I know what most politicians are up to. There’s plenty of them playing around…They can’t keep secrets…I get things right…I talk to parties across the political spectrum…I told someone from John Key’s office to get stuffed once.”

Craig asked how many contributors regularly wrote for Whaleoil. Well, said Slater, there was himself, his wife, and someone called Pete.

He mentioned he was “a multi award-winning journalist”. Craig asked him about this multitude of honours. Slater said something called Net Guide had twice named Whaleoil as best blog, and he also won a Canon media award for his Len Brown scoop.

“Three,” said Craig. As a qualified accountant, he is an expert in addition.

“Well,” Slater retorted, “my stats show I’m a winner!”

“I’m the same as any other media organisation. But in many respects, I’m better.”

And far more modest.

“Left-wing ratbags…I gave [former Green MP] Kevin Hague a good hiding…I make people laugh.”

At one point, he bragged that he was an in-demand political commentator. The proof was his regular appearances talking about politics on Channel 83.

“I’ve been on every show bar one”.

Channel 83 can’t be perfume for pensioners, but I guess it’s out there somewhere.

So Slater took the snarly sound bite approach. And bared his fangs at Craig (and some journalists apparently). It may play well to his Whale Oil audience, but time will tell whether it bites him on the bum in court.

This is half way through the second of what has been set down as a three week trial.

 

A defamation trial

There seems to be a defamation trial continuing but there has been very little coverage of it.

Stuff seems to be the only one doing anything ongoing. Love poems and hot saunas: Week one of the Colin Craig trial

That adds little to previous reports, it must have been a slow day today.

It seems to have been oversold a bit as a $16 million trial. Maybe if significantly new comes up media may put a bit more out.

Even WO seems to be very subdued about it, just one post today.

Winston’s motives – short or long term?

Trying to work out what Winston Peters motives are can be a bit of a challenge, but some try to do it.

It may come down to whether he is more interested in the short term, baubles of power for him, or the longer term with a succession plan for NZ First.

At Whale Oil in one of the different styles common under the authorship of ‘Cameron Slater’: Winston on shared PM role

Winston Peters was burned in 1999. When Bolger was rolled, who he could work with, and replaced with Shipley, who he couldn’t work with.

Ever since then he has made it his mission in life to never say what he is going to do until he sees how the votes land on election night. The main reason being is that he wants the most stable possible government with a preference of just two partners. He knows some dead heads will come in with both parties and he wants enough numbers so if some go they can still govern.

An odd assertion.

The next is that he will NEVER work with the Greens. In his book they get nothing. No under-secretary jobs, no associate ministers…NOTHING.

It’s well known he outmanoeuvred the Greens and kept them out of government in 2005, but I don’t think it’s possible to be this certain about what he may or may not do this year given the opportunity.

National would shank Bill English in about as much time as it takes to close the door on a ministerial limousine. Many backbenchers and some ministers are experiencing buyer’s remorse…and the longer it goes the worse it will get. They were still happy little sycophants to John Key and tugged their forelocks and did his bidding. He’s gone, left them to it and memories in politics fade fast.

If Winston Peters gets enough to make the demand of National to shank Bill English then it will happen. Personally I’d like very much to see that happen.

This is more revealing of the motives of ‘Cameron Slater’ rather than of Winston. Whale Oil has long been bitter about Bill English, and English easily beating Judith Collins in the contest to take over from John Key.

The best (albeit slim) chance of Collins becoming Prime Minister now is for National to lose this year’s election (they are almost certain to get the highest party vote but may not be able or willing to form a coalition) and for English to be dumped as a result.

But the motives of ‘Cameron Slater’ are a lot more obvious than Winston’s.

Rob Hosking at NBR has an interesting take on it.

The choice for Peters is this: become the second or third wheel in a National or Labour-led government, or stay out and build up New Zealand First to replace Labour as the second party of 2020.

There’s some merit to that possibility. It’s bad news for Labour as it makes their path to government much harder. But if Peters is looking at a future for NZ First after he retires it makes a lot of sense.

If NZ First form a coalition with National or Labour with Winston still in charge it may damage NZ First’s chances of survival should Winston need to step down. His party has struggled after it’s past coalitions.

If Labour do poorly this election – and there’s a real possibility of this – then NZ First (and Greens) will see an opportunity to take over the lead Opposition role from them.

And if National get another term then they should find it very difficult to win again in 2020, if there is a credible alternative.

So Winston’s obvious choices are:

  • To get whatever baubles he can in what would likely be his last term in Parliament, and leave NZ First in a weakened position, or
  • Sit on the cross benches, get some policy wins to enable National to govern as a minority government but build NZ First credentials as the most prominent opposition party.

The latter is likely to be the better option for the future of NZ First without Winston.

It depends on his preference, to go out in some sort of blaze of personal glory versus setting his party up for a future without him.

Slater claims $16m defamation against Craig

The tit for tat defamation cases between Cameron Slater (and his Social Media Consultants company) and Colin Craig started today. It is expected to run for three weeks.

Slater is claiming $16 million, which is a big call in more ways than one, given that Jordan Williams’ $1.27 million was ruled excessive by the judge in that case who ruled a miscarriage of justice.

RNZ:  Colin Craig likens alleged defamation to medieval punishment

Colin Craig opened his defamation case at the High Court in Auckland against Cameron Slater and the company that owns Mr Slater’s blog, saying his reputation was dragged through the mud.

ODT: Slater ‘inaccurate, irresponsible’ – Colin Craig

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says allegations that he was a ”sexual deviant” and paid his former press secretary ‘hush money” are untrue.

Craig is suing Cameron Slater and his social media business for defamation at a trial started at the Auckland High Court before Justice Kit Toogood.

Craig says the allegations written on Whale Oil Beef Hooked were irresponsible, inaccurate and very damaging.

ODT: Blogger to sue Craig for $16m

The blogger counter-suing former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is seeking more than $16 million in damages.

But Craig will have to leave how much he is potentially awarded up to the courts because he’s suing a media outlet.

Craig’s defamation case against right-wing blogger Cameron Slater began today at the Auckland High Court before Justice Kit Toogood.

He claims 18 publications between April 29 and July 19, 2015, were “seriously defamatory”.

The allegations culminated in his stepping down from the Conservative Party, which he founded, because his political aspirations were ruined and his reputation had been destroyed.

Craig said his resignation wasn’t because the claims were true but because they’d taken on a “life of their own” during a “media firestorm”.

The defamation case will mean a return to Craig’s relationship with his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor which were central to another suit late last year.

I doubt she will be happy about that, given that she told Williams not to do anything because she didn’t want to cause harm.

Mr Slater repeated the allegations in statements made to mainstream media and reiterated they were correct. Craig referenced a Whale Oil post in which he said:

“Look these allegations are true, I wouldn’t have published them if they weren’t”.

Because Craig is suing a media outlet, if the court rules in his favour it will decide what damages he is awarded.

However, Mr Slater is suing an individual so is able to sue for a specific amount and is seeking $16,234,020 from Craig.

I guess that amount is related to the number of booklets delivered to households. It looks like a huge risk going so high on damages.

Talking of risks, Slater’s wife posted on Whale Oil today saying she was bored with court, and solicited subscriptions: I feel a headache coming on

Being part of a court case isn’t as much fun as you would imagine.

But really it is like this…Boring!

To get through the next few weeks I am going to need someone to sign up to Whaleoil every day just so I can keep myself awake.

She then uses some lame graphics to promote subscriptions. Trying to profit off a defamation base against their website seems like an odd and potentially risk thing to do. Juana Atkins is co-director with Slater and 99% majority shareholder with Social Media Consultants Ltd so has a financial interest in the case.

Trying to make the case into both a joke and a money making venture is at risk of backfiring.