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

Colin Craig defamation trial: explosive sex harassment claims emerge

Colin Craig holds the booklet in which he allegedly defamed Tax Payers Union executive director Jordan Williams. Photo/Dean Purcell NZ Herald
Colin Craig holds the booklet in which he allegedly defamed Tax Payers Union executive director Jordan Williams. Photo/Dean Purcell NZ Herald

Explosive details about former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig's alleged messages to his press secretary Rachel MacGregor, and claims of sexual harrassment, have been revealed at a High Court defamation trial.

It emerged today that Craig sent a number of letters, texts and poems to MacGregor who resigned from her post shortly before the 2014 general election.

I slept well because I dreamt that I was between your naked legs.
A text message from Colin Craig to his former press secretary

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

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After seeing the messages last year Williams, the executive director of the Tax Payers' Union, 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.

When Craig found out he held a press conference at which he inferred Williams, blogger Cameron Slater and former Conservative Party member John Stringer had lied about him and he would be taking legal action against them for defamation.

At the same time Craig released a leaflet titled Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas, in which he named Williams and the other "culprits" spreading "false allegations" about him and went on to accuse them of running a campaign against him, a "strategy" to remove him as leader of the Conservative Party.

The jury was played a recording of that press conference, where Craig names Williams and others, saying each will "be held to account for the lies they have told".

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

I was not involved with any coordinated campaign.
Jordan Williams

He said he was driven to out Craig's behaviour simply - and only - because "it was the right thing to do".

He read the contents of two letters Craig sent to MacGregor in court. In each, Craig gushed about his press secretary, calling her "precious" saying he felt they were "kindred spirits".

Craig describes his relationship with MacGregor as "special".

I do think that we work together amazingly well, not only are we effective but I think we are in tune with each other... it is more than just working together, I have to say that I honestly enjoy spending time with you... I assume you enjoy it too.
Extract of a letter from Colin Craig to Rachel MacGregor

"Sometimes, especially when I am tired, I lifts my spirits just to spend time with you."

He revealed he had been asked by another staffer if he had kissed MacGregor.

"Obviously the answer to that question was no, not that I wouldn't want to, a lot, but that is a boundary.

"I have never even given you a hug, I actually regret that. There have probably been a couple of times I would have liked to - if it was okay with you. One to discuss."

Craig then recalled asking MacGregor not to wear low cut shirts to work. He "usually had "good control" but he had been "caught out" looking down the front of her top.

"My eyes went where they should not have gone," he allegedly wrote.

In his evidence today Williams explained how he had become involved in MacGregor's situation.

He had known MacGregor for some time before her resignation, firstly in a professional sense and later as good friends. Several weeks after the incident she reached out to him and asked for his help.

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

"I felt unwell as she went through the details of Mr Craig's actions. It was very upsetting."
"Rachel mentioned a number of times letters that Mr Craig had written to her. She told me she did not respond to the letters... I read some of the letters. I was disturbed..."

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

MacGregor told Williams that Craig was persistent in his pursuit of her and would enter her hotel room without knocking when they travelled on Conservative Party business and he would not leave.

He would also get changed in front of her, put a curtain up in her office so they could be alone together and also tried to kiss her on the night of the 2011 election, she claimed.
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 and Craig are both expected to give evidence at the trial, which is set down for five weeks, before Justice Sarah Katz.

- NZ Herald

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