10 Mar 2020

Colin Craig back in court for an appeal

2:45 pm on 10 March 2020

Colin Craig is back in court - appealing a ruling made in his defamation case against Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

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

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

At the time, the High Court ruled Mr Slater had defamed Colin Craig, but not all the claims were successful and no damages were awarded.

Craig was not present in court today, where the appeal is set down for two days.

It hinges on the judge's finding that Craig was guilty of "moderately serious sexual harassment" regarding his former press secretary Rachel McGregor.

Craig's lawyer, Julian Miles QC, said: "We challenge the level [of the finding] - the seriousness."

Miles said the two messages written by Craig to McGregor "which his honour [in the High Court] essentially relied on, I would describe them as mildly flirtatious but with sexual hints in a Mills and Boon sort of way".

Miles said Slater had alleged or implied in his posts that Craig had sent dirty text messages, or "sexts" to McGregor, financially pressured her to have sex with him, and was a danger to other women.

"There's a series of lies there. Slater did not have the 'sexts' - they didn't exist," Miles said.

"When [Slater] was saying that these are facts, verifiable facts based on documents - they are lies."

"All he had at that time was a letter - it's technically a poem, but it's so excruciatingly bad. There's nothing especially sexual about it, its just awful," Craig's lawyer said.

Miles told the court the ruling of moderately serious sexual harrassment was "a very serious allegation", and Craig had a right to try to defend his reputation.

"When the judgement in the High Court rejects the issues that so concern Mr Craig, we say, based on a series of significant errors, that he has the right to go to appealant court to have those errors corrected."

Justice Stephen Kos argued Craig's reputation was damaged by the ruling that he had harassed McGregor.

"His own reputation was deeply damaged by what did emerge - that a man who professed conservative Christian and family values was essentially a hypocrite."

The appeal continues tomorrow.

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