13 Sep 2016

Craig's dream comments made former press sec 'upset'

5:45 pm on 13 September 2016

A jury has heard that on the day Rachel MacGregor resigned as former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig's press secretary he told her that he had slept well the night before because he had imagined he was lying on her legs.

Colin Craig, left, and Rachel MacGregor

Rachel MacGregor was Colin Craig's press secretary but quit suddenly before the 2014 election. Photo: Supplied

Ms MacGregor has been giving evidence in the High Court in Auckland today in the defamation trial against Mr Craig.

It is the first time she has spoken publicly about their relationship since her sudden resignation two days before the 2014 election.

Ms MacGregor said she had been sexually harassed by Mr Craig over a long period of time.

On the morning she left her job, she had asked Mr Craig how he had slept.

She said he had previously made comments about a so-called sleep technique he used where he imagined lying on her legs.

Ms MacGregor said the comments had made her feel uncomfortable and upset, and she had asked Mr Craig to stop making them.

She said she had questioned Mr Craig about what his wife would think if she knew he was making such comments.

When Mr Craig then refused to discuss issues around her pay, Ms MacGregor said she told him she resigned.

The two eventually reached a confidential settlement over a claim Ms MacGregor took to the Human Rights Commission.

The pay dispute

In her evidence, Ms MacGregor told the jury that she had not been paid by Mr Craig in the four months leading up to the 2014 election.

She said they had agreed she would be paid a higher hourly rate over the election period, to reflect the longer hours she would be required to work and the greater workload.

But Ms MacGregor said she and Mr Craig never reached an agreement over what the higher rate would be or when the election period would start.

She said she decided to stop invoicing him until the dispute was sorted out.

He paid her two advances of $10,000, but Ms MacGregor said Mr Craig was unwilling to talk about her pay rate and that eventually led to her resignation.

Ms MacGregor said she became increasingly anxious when Mr Craig began giving media interviews in mid-2015 in which he discussed the circumstances surrounding her resignation.

Ms MacGregor said Mr Craig told media she had resigned because she was stressed and that she had had to share the job with others.

Ms MacGregor said that was not true.

She said, in his public comments, Mr Craig had also characterised her as having been in an inappropriate relationship with a married man.

Her friends and family had interpreted that as implying there was a consensual sexual relationship and that was not the case, she said.

Ms MacGregor said it was humiliating and distressing to have become a topic of public discussion.

The case

Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams is suing Mr Craig over comments he made at a news conference and in a widely distributed leaflet in July last year.

Mr Williams has said that Mr Craig's comments suggested Mr Williams had been dishonest and made up allegations about why Ms MacGregor had left her job.

Mr Williams has said Ms MacGregor confided in him about Mr Craig sexually harassing her.

The trial, before Justice Sarah Katz and a jury, is expected to last another four weeks.

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