Conservatives leader Colin Craig says he has nothing to hide in his private emails after the Green Party suggested he had backed down from a legal battle regarding his comments about homosexuality.
Mr Craig says he will proceed with defamation action against Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but his case will have a narrower scope than first proposed. His legal team will seek a retraction from Dr Norman for his comment that Mr Craig "thinks a woman's place is in the kitchen" but will delay action on the comment that "a gay man's place is in the closet".
Dr Norman will defend his comments, made at a speech at the Big Gay Out. He started a fundraising campaign yesterday to cover his legal fees, which were expected to be around $75,000.
The Greens co-leader said it appeared Mr Craig had something to hide.
"One can only speculate what might be in Mr Craig's emails that he doesn't want them to come out in court about his views about gay New Zealanders."
Asked to respond to Dr Norman's comments, Mr Craig said the decision to split the case into two parts was "purely strategic". "The cynic might say I'm just wanting to cherry-pick. There is an element of that in the strategy of it all. But his comments were absolutely wrong and they're no less wrong because we're putting half of it on hold."
Mr Craig said including Dr Norman's comment about homosexuality in the claim would be costly and time-consuming because Greens would seek the thousands of emails and documents Mr Craig held in relation to the gay marriage debate last year. Mr Craig was a vocal opponent of the change to marriage laws.
He had made far fewer public and private comments about the place of women and focusing only on these would allow for a "quicker, cleaner" court case.
Media and defamation expert Ursula Cheer, from the University of Canterbury, said splitting the claim would restrict the Green co-leader's defence.
"It might affect how much evidence that Russel Norman can [get] hold of to argue truths."
Dr Norman said it was a costly distraction in an election year. But he felt it was important to defend free speech.
Mr Craig hoped to fast-track the process and get a retraction before the election, but legal experts said that was unlikely.
The Greens had last night raised $2000 for Mr Norman's legal defence.
A new strategy
*Colin Craig will proceed with defamation action against Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but his case will have a narrower scope.
*His legal team will seek a retraction from Dr Norman for his comment that Mr Craig "thinks a woman's place is in the kitchen'' but will delay action on the comment that "a gay man's place is in the closet''.
*Dr Norman will defend his comments and started a fundraising campaign yesterday to cover his legal fees
*These are expected to be around $75,000.
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