19 Sep 2019

Colin Craig defamed Rachel MacGregor, High Court judge finds

11:29 am on 19 September 2019

A third court judgment has found that Rachel MacGregor was sexually harassed by her former employer, Colin Craig.

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

Colin Craig, pictured in 2018 during his defamation case against former press secretary Rachel MacGregor at the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The judgment is the latest chapter in the ongoing court action taken by the former Conservative Party leader over the fallout from the 2014 election.

Mr Craig sued Ms MacGregor for defaming him on three different occasions - in a tweet, in a media statement and in what she told Jordan Williams from the Taxpayers' Union about their relationship.

Ms MacGregor counter-sued Mr Craig for defaming her four times - at two press conferences in 2015, in a letter to Conservative Party members and in a booklet sent to 1.6 million households.

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Rachel MacGregor has counter-sued Mr Craig for defaming her four times. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The alleged defamation related to how Mr Craig responded to speculation about the nature of the pair's relationship, as well as comments about a confidential settlement they reached to resolve the sexual harassment claim and a financial dispute.

Justice Hinton found that Ms MacGregor did defame by Mr Craig by suggesting he was a bad employer.

However, she also found that Mr Craig defamed Ms MacGregor on most of the occasions she claimed.

Mr Craig withdrew his claim for damages on the first day of the hearing.

A decision is still to be made on a damages award for Ms MacGregor.

Justice Hinton said there was "clearly sexual conduct on the part of Mr Craig", which he accepted.

"I consider the sexual conduct, particularly the letters received from 2012 onwards, was unwelcome by Ms MacGregor. The same would apply to texts about sleeping between her legs or any other texts with sexual overtones," the judgment said.

"I am also satisfied Mr Craig's sexual conduct had a detrimental effect on Ms MacGregor."

In a statement, Ms MacGregor welcomed today's decision.

"This decision is the third to find that Mr Craig sexually harassed me," she said.

"It's a relief to have the courts confirm that when I filed my complaint I did so truthfully. It's my strong wish that Justice Hinton's ruling is not appealed by Mr Craig and that he finally leaves me alone to get on with my life.

"After all this time, and all this litigation, I just want this awful ordeal to be finally over."

In a statement, Mr Craig said he would "continue to attempt to get the record straightened on all claims made against me, because the public deserve to know the truth".