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

Colin Craig defamation trial: Jordan Williams had a 'smoking gun'

Colin Craig arrives at Auckland High Court on Tuesday afternoon. 20 September 2016 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Nick Reed
Colin Craig arrives at Auckland High Court on Tuesday afternoon. 20 September 2016 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Nick Reed

The day after Jordan Williams approached senior Conservative Party board members with allegations Colin Craig had sexually harassed Rachel MacGregor, they suggested he step down as their leader.

They felt that information Williams had about Craig was a "smoking gun" and could seriously injure the party.

Former board member Laurence Day has this afternoon given evidence, following former candidate Garth McVicar and chairman Brian Dobbs.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard from former chief executive Christine Rankin.

• Williams challenged on sex text accuracy
• Rachel MacGregor on Colin Craig - in her own words
• Colin Craig: I did not take my pants off
• Craig can't prove he didn't send messages

Day told the jury about a meeting he had with Williams in Hamilton following MacGregor's resignation.

Williams contacted Day and Dobbs and said there were serious allegations that Craig had sexually harassed his press secretary MacGregor and he wanted to show them "supporting documents".

"He said Colin should not be leading the Conservative Party because of what he had done to Rachel," Day told the court.

"I was very concerned to hear about this and I wanted to understand the allegations in more detail."

Day agreed to meet Williams in Hamilton, and was informed Dobbs would also be attending.

Laurence Day. Photo/supplied.
Laurence Day. Photo/supplied.

At the meeting Williams showed the men poems and letters sent by Craig to MacGregor and told them that she had made a sexual harassment complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

Williams told the pair, according to Day, that blogger Cameron Slater had "a smoking gun" and the information was about to go public.

It would later emerge Williams had leaked a poem from Craig to MacGregor to Slater, who published it on his Whale Oil blog.

Day said at the Hamilton meeting Williams alleged:

• Craig was "smitten" by Rachel and began harassing her shortly after she started her employment. This continued until her resignation.

• That there was a "non consensual" incident after the 2011 general election where Craig kissed MacGregor and touched her breast.

• That Craig "stopped paying her for six months", forcing MacGregor into debt and financial dependency on her boss.

• That Craig "put sexual pressure on Rachel to sleep with him"

• That Craig gave MacGregor "inappropriate gifts" including pricey jewellery and would take her on shopping trips and tell her what she should wear.

• That Craig sent a "series of one way communications" to MacGregor.

• That Craig "sent sexually explicit messages" to his press secretary including one that read he had slept well the night before because he had dreamt he was sleeping between her naked legs.

Rachel MacGregor arrives at the Auckland High Court to testify in Jordan Williams defamation case against Colin Craig 13 September 2016 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Brett Phibbs
Rachel MacGregor arrives at the Auckland High Court to testify in Jordan Williams defamation case against Colin Craig 13 September 2016 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Brett Phibbs

Day said Williams then gave the men "selected" documents to read - a card and four letters from Craig to MacGregor.

He claimed Williams said he "had a copy" of the sex text message but could not find it in his folder of documents.

In the first week of the trial, Williams admitted he had never actually seen the message, but was told about it by MacGregor.

She then gave evidence that Craig did not send a message to her - he spoke the words to her the morning she resigned.

MacGregor told the jury she was making small talk with her boss on the way to early morning interviews.

During this chat she asked him how he had slept the night before.

He allegedly said he'd slept well because he dreamt he was sleeping on her legs.

After the meeting with Williams, Day and Dobbs discussed what to do next.

"We agreed the serious allegations would be very damaging to the party if they were made public," he said.

Day said the first step he took was to contact Craig.

He spoke to him the next morning and during the phone conversation "suggested" he step down as the party leader.

He told Craig that Williams, who he referred to at that stage only as an informant as he had promised confidentiality, had documents that, "without context were a smoking gun".

Craig "vehemently" denied the allegations, particularly around the sex text.

Day went back to Williams and quizzed him on it. Williams confirmed he had not seen the text, rather he had "made notes" about it based on what MacGregor had told him.

Day then became more "sceptical" of Williams' allegations.

"I was concerned that what I had previously been told was not correct," Day said.

Day later found out that there were also letters from MacGregor to her then-boss.

Craig claims they show the relationship was "mutual".

Day said had he known about those messages when Williams first approached him he "would not have been nearly as alarmed".

He still would have been concerned over the relationship between the politician and press secretary but the degree would have been far less.

He said Williams actions effectively led to widespread "attacks" on Craig and the Conservative Party.

Day felt Craig had no other choice than to respond publicly.

"A booklet was the most effective way of avoiding the media twisting his story," he told the court.

"The allegations (Williams) made were not true.

"Colin clearly made some mistakes in getting too close to Rachel but that is not the same as the serious, nasty behaviour Jordan said took place."

Day: 'I don't believe MacGregor'

During cross examination, Day was also quizzed on MacGregor's claim of sexual harassment.

Williams' lawyer Ali Romanos asked him about the poem Craig wrote and sent to MacGregor which outlined what he liked about her personality, looks and body.

Day said it was inappropriate but he did not consider it any more than that.

Romanos then questioned him about the sexual harassment complaint MacGregor made to the Human Rights Commission.

"That has puzzled me for a long time," he said.

He asked why, if she was being harassed, did MacGregor stay in her job and "hang around" Craig.

"I just don't accept her evidence of sexual harassment," he said.

He said his recollection of MacGregor was that she was confident and "forward".

"Is she two people? Acts one way in public and another way in private? I saw the way she behaved. She was relaxed, never afraid ... around Colin.

"You've got an older guy around a younger woman who's attractive, who flatters him, makes him up ... "

Romanos put to Day that flattering, building Craig up and getting him ready for public and media engagements was part of MacGregor's job.

"If the press secretary had been a male I don't think they would have been quite as flattering around Colin," Day said.

"Would Mr Craig have been?" asked Romanos.

Day said: "I would never have thought in a thousand years she was being sexually harassed by the way she behaved around Colin."

Why is Colin Craig on trial?

The defamation trial unfolded after Craig's press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, resigned suddenly just 48 hours before the 2014 general election.

The resignation was high profile and there was much speculation about why she left.

Weeks later MacGregor turned to Williams for support, and told him she had made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission alleging that Craig had sexually harassed her.

She shared letters and poems the politician had sent her. Williams then revealed the details to other Conservative Party members.

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".

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

The trial continues.

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