Rachel MacGregor: 'I lost a lot of faith in Colin'

2:06 pm on 23 May 2017

Colin Craig's former press secretary has given the High Court details of creepy poetry, the infamous photo in the grass and questions about the moon landing.

Colin Craig speaks to reporters outside court after the jury delivered its verdict.

Colin Craig, pictured, and Cameron Slater are suing each other in the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Mr Craig is suing Cameron Slater for posts he made on his Whale Oil blog about Mr Craig and his relationship with his press secretary, Rachel MacGregor. Mr Slater is counter-suing Mr Craig for statements made in a leaflet sent out to 1.6 million households around the country.

Ms MacGregor was subpoenaed and gave evidence in the High Court in Auckland today.

Rachel MacGregor

Rachel MacGregor Photo: LinkedIn

She began working for the Conservative Party in the lead-up to the 2011 election and today described her first impressions of its then-leader as a jovial chap who was badly dressed:

"He was a little bit, sort of, odd... He had his pants pulled up really high... He was a bit, sort of, dorky. But ... he was just a ... middle-aged man trying to have a go at politics."

Ms MacGregor said her first job was to improve Mr Craig's image.

"He needed, you know, a completely new wardrobe. He needed a proper haircut. He needed to be able to speak in a way that people could understand him because at the time he would just ramble on and on about his ideas, as opposed to having clear and concise thoughts as to what he was trying to achieve."

Ms MacGregor was asked about an incident on election night in 2011 when she and Mr Craig kissed in an apartment, attached to the Conservative Party office.

"I also at that point really lost faith in Colin, I thought he was trustworthy but ... I lost a lot of faith ... in him."

Ms MacGregor said she thought long and hard about whether she should stay with the party but decided to stay in her job because of financial necessity.

She said she insisted on boundaries, including not working alone with Mr Craig at night and on weekends.

But in the new year, Mr Craig began writing her letters that Ms MacGregor described as "dodgy". She was asked by Mr Slater's lawyer, Brian Henry, about one of them.

"I thought he was probably writing something dodgy again and so, I just tried to ignore it again."

She was asked about another passage.

"Well, that just disgusted me... He was just so stupid, like: 'What are you doing?'... It's just gone from bizarre to ridiculous... I remember thinking: 'Oh, for goodness sake, this is so awkward."

She said Mr Craig also gave her unwanted advice, including to get rid of her dog.

Ms MacGregor also spoke of a photo shoot where Mr Craig agreed to be photographed lying in grass in Auckland's Mt Eden.

She said she was shocked when the photos were published but Mr Craig did not seem to care.

And she recounted another media embarrassment when Mr Craig went ahead with a television interview while she wasn't present.

"So when I got there, I believe he was talking about chem trails, which is another ridiculous thing... When I say it's a ridiculous thing, it's another thing that is a sort of conspiracy theory... I remember talking to Colin after the interview saying: 'What the heck are doing, you didn't even have any make-up on... Why are you talking to the journalist when I'm not even there? This is my job.' And he was like: 'Oh, it was fine, he was nice, there was no problem with it.' He didn't think there was any problem with the interview."

Ms MacGregor said Mr Craig went on to question the validity of man landing on the moon.

She said she resigned days before the 2014 election over a pay dispute.

Craig's lawyer used as source for Whale Oil blog

Earlier, the court heard that a lawyer acting for Mr Craig was the source of stories on the Whale Oil blog claiming a second person had accused him of sexual harassment.

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

Cameron Slater Photo: Supplied

Madeleine Flannagan told the court she made it clear to Mr Slater that she was not representing a second woman claiming to have been sexually harassed by Mr Craig.

Mr Slater has written stories claiming there was a second complainant, and has confirmed that a conversation with Ms Flannagan was the basis for those stories.

Ms Flannagan told the court today she called Mr Slater, asking for a copy of a sexual harassment complaint against Mr Craig, and that Mr Slater became fixated and asked her a number of questions about her client.

She said she made it clear she was not representing a second woman, but could not say who her client was.

Ms Flannagan has now told the court her clients were actually Mr and Mrs Craig. She said she only made the phone call to Mr Slater after first discussing the matter with them.

She said her intention was to find out what other details were about to be published because she was working on an adoption application for the Craigs.