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

Revealed: Rachel MacGregor's personal messages to Colin Craig

Colin Craig with the pamphlet that allegedly defamed Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams. Photograph/Dean Purcell.
Colin Craig with the pamphlet that allegedly defamed Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams. Photograph/Dean Purcell.

Colin Craig's lawyers have suggested that letters and poems sent by the former politician to his then-press secretary Rachel MacGregor only tell "one side of the narrative".

They suggest that had the full exchange of messages been disclosed, a very different picture of Craig and MacGregor's relationship would have been painted.

Messages sent by MacGregor have been read to the jury at Craig's defamation trial this afternoon.

The first message read was sent via her Conservative Party email account in response to a handwritten letter she had received from her then-boss.

"I just wanted to say thank you so, so, so, so, sooooo much for your letter. Some of the words in it are powerful, it means so much to me that you have taken the time to write it. Thank you. I am reading it and re-reading it. See you when you get in."

A Christmas card MacGregor sent Craig in 2012 was also read to the jury.

Dear Colin,
It has been a pleasure and a real honour working with you.
You have become much more than a boss, you are a dear friend and mentor...
You are consistently proving your strength of character.
You are a man of your word, you have integrity,
You have a big heart and you genuinely care for people.
I love how you see life through more than your natural eyes, you see much deeper and you act on what you see with your spirit...
I have great respect for your wisdom, your determination, your strength, your intellect, your can-do attitude, your gentleness, kindness and self control.
I'm with you and I have faith in your abilities to make a valuable difference in New Zealand.
With love,
Rach
Christmas card from Rachel MacGregor to Colin Craig (abridged)

Craig is on trial for allegedly defaming Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams, a friend of MacGregor's to whom she turned after her high-profile shock resignation shortly before the 2014 general election.

Williams said he was "horrified" at MacGregor's claims Craig had sexually harassed her, and after seeing letters and poems the politician sent her, revealed all to other Conservative Party members.

It emerged today that hours before Williams disclosed the letters to the others, MacGregor emailed him and asked him not to share them with anyone.

"I do not want the letters to be used against Colin," she told Williams in an email.

Believing it was in her best interests, Williams ignored her plea and shared them with party members including then-chief executive.

When Craig found out he publicly claimed Williams was part of a group of "culprits" determined to have him removed as party leader through a "campaign" of "false accusations".

At a press conference and in a pamphlet sent to more than 1.6 million households across the country that Williams was a liar had had "spread false accusations".

Williams then filed defamation proceedings in the High Court, saying he did not lie about Craig.

READ MORE:
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This afternoon Craig's lawyer Stephen Mills QC has read a series of letters, cards and messages MacGregor wrote to her boss before she left her job.

Mr Mills read the correspondence in a bid to show the jury that MacGregor had reciprocated Craig's messages, and the information Williams disclosed to the other Conservative Party members was one-sided and "inconsistent" with reality.

In other letters MacGregor paid tribute to her boss.

"You are truly wonderful and I am truly grateful to have you in my life. You consistently go above and beyond for me and others," she wrote.

"You have made a difference in my life and others . . . I admire you and respect you. Thank you for nurturing me this year, thank you for your time and love.

Mills challenged Williams on the letters, which he had not seen until today.

He put to Williams that, had he seen MacGregor's responses and not just the correspondence from Craig, that he would have had an entirely different take on the situation.

He accused Williams of taking a narrative about Craig that was "wrong" and asked:
"If you had seen [her messages] would you have taken a different message to the people you went to?" "Of course it would have been a slightly different message but I would have still been gravely concerned," Williams said.

"I believe [Craig] was misusing his power over a young woman and I therefore believe him to be fundamentally flawed to lead a Christian-based movement." He accepted that he was wrong in saying that MacGregor "never reciprocated" the messages but remains adamant Craig's messages were out of line.

And, the fundamental point of the defamation action still stood.

"I do accept that [saying] there were no communications going back was wrong - but I did not lie," he said.

The trial started on Monday before Justice Sarah Katz and a jury in the High Court at Auckland. It will run for about five weeks.

- NZ Herald

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