28 Sep 2018

Rachel MacGregor: 'I had no interest in the political side of this'

3:02 pm on 28 September 2018

Rachel MacGregor says she never expected her sexual harassment claim against former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig to become a public scandal.

Colin Craig presents his defamation case against former press secretary Rachel MacGregor in the High Court in Auckland.

Colin Craig presents his defamation case against former press secretary Rachel MacGregor in the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Mr Craig and Ms MacGregor are suing each other for defamation in the High Court at Auckland.

Ms MacGregor resigned as Mr Craig's press secretary two days before the 2014 election, and the pair later reached a confidential settlement over a sexual harassment claim and a financial dispute.

Mr Craig is representing himself in the proceedings and has begun cross-examining Ms MacGregor.

Ms MacGregor opted to stand in the witness box as she gave evidence, and turned slightly away from Mr Craig.

She rarely made eye contact with him as she answered questions about her work experience and how she ended up working for the Conservative Party.

Mr Craig asked Ms MacGregor whether she accepted that her values aligned with those of the Conservative Party.

She said before she started working for Mr Craig in 2011, from what she had heard from others and read in the media, she said it seemed like he was "a great person".

"But of course you hadn't actually released any policies at that point, so I can't comment on whether my values aligned with your policies because you didn't have any."

Mr Craig then asked Ms MacGregor whether she looked at the party's founding principles on its website, which she had said in her communications with Mr Craig she could help improve.

She said she did not.

"I had no interest, to be frank, in the political side of this, I was looking for a part-time job ... I didn't look at your principles, because I didn't care. I just wanted to get a job."

Earlier today, Ms MacGregor said that after the settlement was reached, she wanted to move on and rebuild her career.

She did not want people talking about her - or Mr Craig - and did not want the matter in the media, she said.

She didn't expect it would, because all they had agreed to say publicly was that they had met and resolved their differences.

Earlier, Ms MacGregor said she felt she could not raise her concerns about sexual harassment with Mr Craig while he was still her boss.

With the 2014 election looming, she said she did not want to do anything compromise her job.

She was embarrassed, anxious and confused about how he would react, Ms MacGregor said.

Ms MacGregor said that Mr Craig had told her about about dreams he had about her, including that he had dreamt he had been lying on her legs.

She said she had asked him to stop saying things like that, because it made her feel uncomfortable.

Ms MacGregor said she had kept the cards and letters Mr Craig had sent her, because they were unsettling.

She had never received anything like them from an employer before, she said.

Ms MacGregor said she did show some of them to a small circle of confidantes. She found upsetting and inappropriate, and she wanted assurances from others that her feelings were justified.

Ms MacGregor said that she was not the source of speculation about their relationship, but she had been unable to convince Mr Craig of this.

The case, before Justice Hinton, continues.

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