In a surprise move Conservative leader Colin Craig has announced that he is suing John Key in defamation.
Lawyers for Mr Craig, who leads the Conservative Party, have written to Mr Key asserting that recent comments made by Key and reported in the NZ Herald are untrue and defamatory.
The Herald reported Key as saying this:
Prime Minister John Key indicated he believed Mr Craig needed to harden up.
“If Mr Craig is going to be part of the Parliamentary process to be honest he’s going to have to get used to a lot more rough and tumble than he’s currently demonstrating.
“We all learn to develop a thicker skin as we spend our time here. The reality is this is the nature of Parliament.”
Mr Key repeated his advice last week to his potential minor party allies including Mr Craig and Act Leader Jamie Whyte: “In the end, I think New Zealanders are interested in the issues that matter.
“People get up in the morning concerned about their jobs, their children, their health, their families, the communities they live in not whether Elvis is still alive, man walked on the moon or whether Russel Norman might have a view about what Colin Craig thinks about certain issues.”
Mr Craig is demanding an apology and retraction which gets similar coverage as Mr Key’s original comments, otherwise his lawyers say they will take further action under the Defamation Act.
Mr Craig’s lawyers said that Key’s comments crossed the boundary of what is legal or acceptable, even in an election year.
In a letter to Mr Key, Craig’s lawyers alleged the statement “harms his reputation in that it says that he is weak and thin skinned and implies that he believes Elvis is alive and that the moon landing was faked.”
In a later move Craig said announced that the claim would be split into two parts as a strategic move. “The cynic might say I’m just wanting to cherry-pick. There is an element of that in the strategy of it all. But his comments were absolutely wrong and they’re no less wrong because we’re putting a quarter of the case on hold.”
Mr Craig said including Mr Key’s comment about Elvis being alive in the claim would be costly and time-consuming because National would seek the thousands of emails and documents Mr Craig held in relation to the issue.
When contacted Mr Key declined to comment but could be seen feeding pieces of red meat to blogger Cameron Slater while attempting to get Slater to attack a blown up doll that resembled Craig.
And on a more serious note if you want to donate to Russel Norman’s defence fund the details are here.