It turns out that Colin Craig had already lost a legal battle months before his disastrous libel fight with Jordan Williams. Craig had to pay his ex press secretary Rachel MacGregor more than $128,000 after painting her as a “mistress, trouble maker, mentally unwell, a liar, and a blackmailer”.
He was forced to pay her $128,780 in damages plus costs, the largest sum the Human Rights Review Tribunal has awarded for emotional harm.
The payment was made after Craig was ruled to have repeatedly breached their confidential agreement by giving interviews about her.
The matter had been suppressed while the libel case was heard.
There are a couple of questions that spring to mind.
Firstly, why didn’t he take the hint from the HRRT result and just settle with Williams?
And, secondly, was he entirely truthful in his evidence in the libel case?
I ask the latter question because some of his evidence seems to me to be a repetition of the kind of statements that had been found by the HRRT to be harmful to McGregor. Milder and more careful, perhaps, but still presumably intended to paint himself as a naive man with a minor infatuation.
The ruling was also gives the lie to his claims during the trial that he couldn’t properly answer the sexual allegations made against him to Conservative Party board members specifically because of the confidentiality agreement.
The HRRT found he had purposely withheld information from Conservative Party board members that would show Williams was incorrect in some of his details and that he did so out of self interest.
Of course, the issues around his behaviour will not go away. He’s is appealing both the libel verdict and amount of the award. No doubt the amount will be slashed on appeal and then probably negotiated down further. That’s as it should be because it’s foolish to let juries decide the quantum.
So we’ll be laughing at the man who wanted be the kingmaker of NZ politics for some time to come. But we shouldn’t forget that, for a while, John Key was mulling over giving him an easy ride into Parliament. Key’s judgement might be marginally better than Craig’s, but they both have a fundamentalist’s urge to tell others how to live.
We dodged a bullet with Colin Craig.
But Key is still with us.
And now … a song