"I would like to explain."

It is a phrase Colin Craig has uttered several times as he is examined, questioned and tested by two lawyers representing his former press secretary.

The former Conservative Party leader and Rachel MacGregor are suing each other over several defamation claims in the wake of New Zealand's 2014 general election.

It is yet another court proceeding following the unceremonious end to Craig's political career.

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Craig, sitting in the witness box surrounded by weighty bundles of stacked evidence, is again airing the nature of his personal and professional relationship with MacGregor.

The 50-year-old has previously talked extensively about his bond with MacGregor, who was his press secretary from 2011 to 2014.

She was hired three months before the 2011 general election and resigned only two days before the 2014 election, later filing a sexual harassment complaint.

The accountant by trade would write MacGregor, a former TVNZ journalist, letters and poems - parts of which have been read again to the High Court this week.

"I have decided to share a little glimpse of the 'Creative Colin'," one of Craig's poems reads.

It was titled Two of Me.

"There is only one of me it's true
"But I wish this were not the case
"Because I wish that I could have you
"If instead one man, I was two
"That would be one for all the others
"And one of me, for you."

Rachel MacGregor arriving at the High Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Rachel MacGregor arriving at the High Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Craig's cross-examination by one of MacGregor's lawyers, Hayden Wilson, began yesterday and will enter a third day tomorrow.

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It is reminiscent of when Craig cross-examined MacGregor for two days during the multi-millionaire's defamation trial with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater last May.

But Craig, who is representing himself as he did in the Slater trial, will again have his chance to question MacGregor under cross-examination after she takes the stand to testify later this week.

In the current trial, which began on Monday, Craig argues MacGregor defamed him three times.

Firstly by what MacGregor told New Zealand Taxpayers' Union founder Jordan Williams, then in a media release by MacGregor in June 2015, and also in a tweet on the same day.

A confidential settlement between Craig and MacGregor was reached in May 2015, but rumours quickly surfaced and were made public.

Hayden Wilson, one of Rachel MacGregor's lawyers, has been cross-examining Colin Craig for several hours. Photo / Michael Craig
Hayden Wilson, one of Rachel MacGregor's lawyers, has been cross-examining Colin Craig for several hours. Photo / Michael Craig

In 2016, Craig was ordered to pay MacGregor more than $120,000 by the Human Rights Review Tribunal after it ruled he breached the confidentiality agreement in interviews with the press.

MacGregor's lawyers, who include Linda Clark, claim she was defamed in four instances.

Twice in two press conferences held by Craig, in a booklet titled Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas which was delivered to 1.6 million Kiwi households, and in a letter to Conservative Party members.

Wilson said Craig defamed MacGregor by alleging she made false claims of sexual harassment.

MacGregor's defence to Craig's claims will draw upon honest opinion, qualified common law privilege, truth and defence against attack.

Justice Anne Hinton is presiding over the trial. Photo / Michael Craig
Justice Anne Hinton is presiding over the trial. Photo / Michael Craig

Craig's defence to MacGregor's claims initially relied on arguments of defence against attack and public interest.

He had forgotten, almost comically, what presiding judge Justice Anne Hinton described as "your main defence".

"Your main defence is truth, your main defence is just not pleaded," Justice Hinton laughed when addressing the issue yesterday.

Justice Hinton allowed Craig to amend his pleadings.

Craig has also had defamation proceedings against what he calls the trio of "schemers" who plotted against him - as he described in his booklet.

An interview in the booklet with a Mr X, purported to be an anonymous whistleblower, also outlined Craig's case against Jordan Williams, Conservative Party board member John Stringer, and Cameron Slater.

However, it later emerged Craig was Mr X and talking about himself in the third person.

Justice Kit Toogood is yet to release his decision on the Craig and Slater proceeding, while Craig's case with Williams is now before the Supreme Court.

The Craig and MacGregor trial, which is due to last two weeks, continues.