Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig's alleged explicit messages read in court

Rachel MacGregor and Colin Craig.
Rachel MacGregor and Colin Craig.

Sexually explicit messages allegedly sent by former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig to his then-press secretary have been revealed during a defamation trial in the High Court.

One message Craig allegedly sent Rachel MacGregor before her sudden resignation before the 2014 general election read: "I slept well because I dreamed that I was between your naked legs".

The message and others were read in court today by Jordan Williams, a friend of MacGregor who supported her after she left her job.

After seeing the messages last year, Williams contacted members of the Conservative Party to "warn" them about Craig's "inappropriate" actions.

He said he was worried that Craig's behaviour towards MacGregor was putting the reputations of his party colleagues at risk.

Sexually explicit messages allegedly sent by former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig to his then-press secretary have been revealed during a defamation trial in the High Court.
Sexually explicit messages allegedly sent by former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig to his then-press secretary have been revealed during a defamation trial in the High Court.

As a result of Williams' approaches, Craig held a press conference and produced a leaflet that was later sent to more than 1.6 million homes across New Zealand, which effectively called Williams a liar.

The leaflet was titled Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas, in which Craig outlined what he saw as the "strategy" to remove him as leader of the Conservative Party.

Williams says Craig defamed him both at the press conference and in the pamphlet, and he launched civil proceedings.

The defamation trial started yesterday in the High Court at Auckland before Justice Sarah Katz and a jury.

In his evidence today Williams said a few weeks after MacGregor left her job she reached out to him.

He met her in Auckland and she shared the details of her resignation.

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and wife Helen Craig attend a media conference. Photo / File
Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and wife Helen Craig attend a media conference. Photo / File

"She confided in me that Mr Craig had been sexually harassing her over a very long period of time," Williams told the court.

MacGregor told him that Craig had stopped paying her when she refused to reciprocate his romantic advances.

"She said she did not know what to do. She wanted me to help her, she trusted me," Williams said.

"I felt unwell as she went through the details of Mr Craig's actions. It was very upsetting."

Williams took notes, believing MacGregor should make a record of everything. He was already considering the merits of taking her claims to other members of the Conservative Party.

"Rachel mentioned a number of times letters that Mr Craig had written to her. She told me she did not respond to the letters. She told me Mr Craig often sent her text messages that were inappropriate. I asked to see the letters," Williams explained.

"I read some of the letters. I was disturbed by the letters as I had been a supporter of Mr Craig. The letters confirmed much of what Rachel had told me about Mr Craig. It occurred to me that even if Rachel was lying or exaggerating, the letters showed that he was besotted with Rachel and was unethical."

Williams said the letters all had a line at the top that stated in bold "absolutely private and confidential".

"Who does that unless they know what they're doing is either wrong or highly embarrassing? I was disgusted and disturbed. I was more than satisfied that Rachel had been sexually harassed by the letters alone."

MacGregor told Williams that Craig also behaved inappropriately towards her.

She said the harassment started as comments and shoulder touches, but progressed and "became persistent".

Among her claims MacGregor told Williams that Craig would enter her hotel room without knocking when they travelled on Conservative Party business and he would not leave. He also tried to kiss her on the night of the 2011 election, she said.

Once he told MacGregor "if there were two of me I'd marry you".

"The sexual harassment continued up until her resignation," Williams told the jury.

MacGregor has never spoken about the harassment. She complained about Craig to the Human Rights Commission and the pair settled, signing a confidentiality agreement.

They decided the only thing they would ever say about the matter was that they had met, and the issue resolved.

However Williams claims MacGregor became increasingly upset when Craig continually commented on the case in media interviews.

She was devastated that her reputation was being "attacked" while she was "silenced".

Williams said he felt he had a moral duty to warn the other members of the party about Craig and met them - unbeknown to MacGregor.

"This was a politician who stands for family values, someone who is married, who stood up on election nights with his wife by his side and talks about the sanctity of marriage.

"I was extremely shocked and disgusted and angry about Colin Craig's behaviour."

MacGregor is set to give evidence against Craig later this week.

Craig has been in court today listening to the evidence, supported by his wife. He is also expected to give evidence during the trial, which has been set down for five weeks.

- NZ Herald

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