Conservatives still open to Craig returning

Colin Craig arrives at Auckland High Court. Photo / Nick Reed
Colin Craig arrives at Auckland High Court. Photo / Nick Reed

The Conservative Party is still hoping to contest the next election even after a defamation ruling against its founder and former leader Colin Craig.

On Friday, Craig was found to have defamed lawyer Jordan Williams when he accused him of being involved in a smear campaign, outlined in a pamphlet Craig published called Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas which was delivered to more than 1.6 million New Zealand households.

A judge ordered Craig to pay nearly $1.3 million to Williams - the biggest defamation payout in New Zealand history.

Immediately after the verdict, Craig's lawyers began the process of an appeal, saying the jury wrongly disregarded the defence of qualified privilege. They're also unhappy with the size of the financial redress, saying it's excessive.

Conservative Party spokesperson Leighton Baker said the door is still open to Craig coming back, but they don't know what his plans are yet.

"If I was in his shoes I probably wouldn't want to," Baker said.

"The guy's put so much time and effort and his own finances into it and he's really been hammered, but that's up to him probably."

Baker said it had been "difficult for the Party for the last fifteen months probably, since the last election", and they're working out what to do next, but don't want voters to forget them.

"We're still pretty keen to push for this election, and keep putting our ideas out there," Baker said. "Whether we get in or whether we just get other people to say 'Hey that's not a bad idea' - either way's a success."

"It's been difficult for the party for the last 15 months probably, since the last election. But I don't think, it's going to be difficult, but it's not impossible."

- Newstalk ZB

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