Colin Craig was ordered to pay Rachel MacGregor a record $120,000 in damages after comprehensively breaching their confidential settlement for his own benefit, according to a withering finding by the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

MacGregor made a claim to the tribunal believing Craig had broken the terms of a deal reached after she complained to the Human Rights Commission that he had sexually harassed her.

The tribunal agreed, finding MacGregor suffered significant humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings. It ordered Craig to pay her $128,780 in damages and costs, with $120,000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

That's the largest sum awarded by the tribunal for emotional harm.

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Neither Craig or MacGregor were immediately available for comment.

Lawyers representing MacGregor spoke to media this afternoon.

MacGregor's lawyer Linda Clark said the publicity in the case had been very "distressing'' and displeasing to their client.

She said MacGregor was happy to now put the matter behind her.

Asked whether MacGregor had received at least some of the money Craig has been ordered to pay, the lawyers confirmed that she had.

MacGregor's lawyers said the case was never "a political story".

Asked whether the payout ordered by the Tribunal - just over $120,000 - was enough, given what MacGregor had gone through, Clark said: "You can't put a dollar amount on the stress and the anxiety and the reality of watching your life being played out in a very public way."

Her lawyers said their client wanted to be done with the case.

"She is quite hopeful that this is the end of the chapter [in this matter].

"Ms MacGregor never wanted this to become a matter of public debate - that was the very last thing that she sought.''

Tribunal findings

The tribunal issued its finding in March but it can only be published today after a lengthy legal battle relating to Craig's defamation trial.

That ended on Friday when a jury found that Craig had defamed Taxpayers' Union boss Jordan Williams in a booklet and at a press conference. Craig was ordered to pay Williams almost $1.3 million in damages.

Craig, the former Conservative Party leader, and MacGregor, his former press secretary, had mediation in May 2015 over two complaints from the latter - her pay dispute with Craig and claim for sexual harassment.

MacGregor attended the mediation believing it was a private and confidential meeting and that any agreement reached would remain likewise.

The settlement they signed included a clause that said neither party would comment to the media or other third parties except to stay the parties had met and resolved their differences.

According to a summary of the finding by MacGregor's lawyer Clark, MacGregor agreed to settle her claim through mediation process because she wanted to resolve the issues speedily and confidentially.

But from June 8 2015, Craig breached confidentiality undertakings numerous times.

MacGregor took her claim to the tribunal seeking a declaration that Craig had breached the settlement, an order restraining him from further breaches and damages for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

According to Clark's summary, Craig breached confidentiality by confirming there had been a sexual harassment claim and that MacGregor was the complainant. He talked about the pay dispute, including disclosing how much money was paid to MacGregor.

He claimed a $20,000 loan had been forgiven compassionately. He described his relationship with MacGregor as "mutual" and claimed that both he and MacGregor had behaved inappropriately.

MacGregor claimed that the breaches were deliberate and designed to harm her reputation. She claimed he mischaracterised the settlement. As a result her reputation had been damaged and she had been seriously affected by the stress and media attention.

She claimed the combination of poor health and the stigma from being associated with such a high-profile and unflattering scandal made it difficult for her to rebuild her professional future.

She also claimed that a process designed to protect claimants in sexual harassment cases had ended up causing her further emotional harm and victimisation.

Craig initially argued that MacGregor had been first to breach confidentiality. He argued she had not been truthful and had induced him to enter settlement with misrepresentations about who she had shared information about her relationship with Craig.

Jordan Williams talks to media outside the High Court in Auckland after winning his defamation case against Colin Craig. Photo / Nick Reed
Jordan Williams talks to media outside the High Court in Auckland after winning his defamation case against Colin Craig. Photo / Nick Reed

He said that had he known Williams had been shown letters about their relationship, he would not have signed the agreement.

Craig also argued that MacGregor worked with Williams to leak damaging information about him.

Craig argued the leak put him under enormous pressure as his political career and many friendships unravelled.

But the tribunal found Craig breached the confidentiality obligations "repeatedly and intentionally". The breaches were "deliberate, systematic, egregious and repeated".

MacGregor suffered significant humiliation, significant loss of dignity and significant injury to feelings. The link between Craig's breaches and MacGregor's humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings was amply established, the finding said.

The tribunal said MacGregor was an honest witness. She had confided in Williams and showed him letters and cards written to her by Craig before mediation had been to agreed and therefore she was under no obligation of confidence

The tribunal said MacGregor had never made any secret of the fact that a small group of confidantes had seen some of the correspondence from Craig before the filing of the sexual harassment claim.

MacGregor did not give Williams permission to leak information about Craig and did not know he intended to. She played no part in the leaking.

Colin Craig giving evidence in his defamation hearing. Photo / Supplied
Colin Craig giving evidence in his defamation hearing. Photo / Supplied

The tribunal said "Mr Craig's entire counterclaim fails for the simple reason it has no factual foundation".

"It is difficult to see any basis for criticising Ms MacGregor's conduct."

She experienced, as a direct result of Craig's breaches, anxiety, anger, despair and alarm, the tribunal found. She was marginalised and Craig deliberately overrode her right to protection from the Human Rights Act.

"Mr Craig is wealthy, well-connected and well-advised," the tribunal said. "At all times he has been in the more powerful position than Ms MacGregor. He has used his power and wealth to conduct a calculated campaign of breaches for the sole purpose of bolstering, or attempting to bolster, his own reputation. He has disregarded his obligations under the Human Rights Act and the settlement agreement."

The tribunal said Craig was "motivated by self-interest" and the "breaches occurred in the most public and damaging of circumstances".

"Mr Craig was controlling the narrative. He was exercising power and control over what was in the media by carefully releasing what he thought would save himself, what he thought would save his position and save his reputation.

"The released information was selected ... to paint himself as a person who had been falsely accused by a woman who was clearly incapable of managing her money and a fair inference was that what she was seeking through the sexual harassment complaint was money."

The finding also said: "His actions were calculated and the likely impact on Ms MacGregor was obvious."

"Mr Craig has had legal advice throughout. The most significant breaches were pre-scripted and, as submitted by Ms MacGregor, engineered to attract maximum publicity. He did not stumble into the breaches, He sought, fed and received media attention.

"His brief of evidence, as filed and read into evidence, was correctly described by Ms MacGregor, as nothing short of a vilification of her."

Colin Craig holds a booklet that led to the defamation case brought by Williams. Photo / Dean Purcel
Colin Craig holds a booklet that led to the defamation case brought by Williams. Photo / Dean Purcel

HOW IT UNFOLDED

MacGregor worked for Craig from August 2011 to September 18, 2014

She registered her claim of sexual harassment with the Human Rights Commission on September 18, 2014.

Before filing her claim in detail, she confided in Jordan Williams and showed him letters and cards Craig had written to her. She trusted Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers' Union, to keep the information confidential.

MacGregor and Craig attended a confidential mediation, facilitated by the Human Rights Commission, on May 4, 2015. They reached a settlement that day.

Documents recording the financial settlement (part of the mediated settlement) were signed on May 7, 2015.

These two parts form the confidential settlement.

Craig participated in an interview in a sauna on TV3 on June 8, 2015.

He held a media conference with his wife, Helen, on June 22, 2015.

He released a booklet, distributed to households nationwide, on July 29, 2015.

MacGregor filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal seeking enforcement of the confidentiality undertakings agreed to under the May 4 agreement and seeking damages for the harm caused by Craig's breaches of confidentiality.

The tribunal held a five-day hearing from December 7, 2015. All matters relating to the hearing, including the names of the parties and the fact of the hearing, were subject to interim non-publication orders.

The tribunal issued its decision on March 2, 2016 and awarded MacGregor $128,780 in damages and compensation.

Craig sought to prevent publication of the decision.

A tribunal hearing was held on May 16, 2016 at which MacGregor sought to have the decision published before the events central to her sexual harassment claim were made public through evidence from Williams and Craig in the defamation hearing.

The tribunal agreed and issued a decision on June 21 lifting all non-publication orders.

Craig appealed against this decision in the High Court on July 21, claiming publication would prejudice his rights to a fair trial at the upcoming defamation trial.

On July 27, Justice Cull sent the matter back to the Tribunal for further consideration.

The tribunal held a further hearing on August 30 to hear arguments about the effect of publication on Craig's fair trial rights.

On September 7, the tribunal determined that the decision should stay suppressed until the second week of the Williams v Craig defamation hearing, at which time trial judge Justice Katz would be best-placed to determine the need for further suppression orders.

On September 12, Justice Katz ordered suppression to continue until the end of the defamation trial. Suppression ended at 5pm today.