What was that all about? The Colin Craig trial in a nutshell video

BROOKE BATH/Stuff.co.nz

Colin Craig speaks to the media outside Auckland High Court.

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has been found to have defamed Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams. 

He must pay $1.27 million in damages - but is already planning an appeal.

It was a complex trial which took the jury 10 hours to come to a decision. 

Former leader of the New Zealand Conservative Party, Colin Craig alongside his wife Helen as he outlines an alleged ...
PHIL WALTER

Former leader of the New Zealand Conservative Party, Colin Craig alongside his wife Helen as he outlines an alleged campaign against him during a press conference.

This is what lies at the heart of the case. 

THE TRIAL

Williams claimed Craig defamed him at a 2015 press conference Craig held to label Williams dishonest. He said Williams was part of the "Dirty Politics brigade" and alleged Williams schemed with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and Conservative board member John Stringer to oust him as leader. He repeated the claims in 1.6 million leaflets he delivered to homes across the country. 

ONE NEWS NOW

Jordan Williams' lawyers were ecstatic at their huge win, and warned, "there will be some new material coming on Monday".

Williams said Craig's claims damaged his reputation. As a lawyer and Taxpayers Union director Williams said his credibility in the media and in law circles was damaged.

READ MORE:
Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams' courtroom rant
Former Conservative board member: A male secretary wouldn't have flattered Colin Craig 
Colin Craig denies sexual harassment, explicit texts, but admits there was a kiss 
Colin Craig allegedly told Christine Rankin his secretary was 'mentally ill' 
Sexual harassment allegations against Colin Craig detailed for first time 
Colin Craig says he thought of Rachel MacGregor as 'like a sister' 
Rachel MacGregor's text messages to Colin Craig read to court 
Colin Craig a dodgy liar, says former press secretary 

Lawyers for Craig used three defences available in defamation proceedings. They argued Craig had expressed an honest opinion, that what he said was the truth, and that he was covered by qualified privilege - meaning he was justified to make those claims. 

The booklet Craig paid to publish and have distributed to homes across the country, accusing Jordan Williams of dishonesty.
IAIN MCGREGOR

The booklet Craig paid to publish and have distributed to homes across the country, accusing Jordan Williams of dishonesty.

WHAT HAS RACHEL MACGREGOR GOT TO DO WITH IT?

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The case centred around Craig's relationship with his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor and whether Williams genuinely believed her claims that she had been sexually harassed by Craig. After three years of employment with Craig, MacGregor quit suddenly before the 2014 election, saying little to media at the time except to call Craig "manipulative". She took her complaint to the Human Rights Commission and it was settled confidentially. After her resignation she was said to have confided in Williams that Craig had harassed her, refused to discuss her pay rate and hadn't been paid for months, she told the court. 

Williams told the court he was horrified by the allegations because MacGregor was his friend, and he'd been a staunch supporter of the Conservatives and no longer felt Craig fit to lead. Against MacGregor's wishes he took a dossier of communications between Craig and MacGregor to two Conservative board members. He also leaked one of the poems Craig wrote MacGregor to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. 

Colin Craig arrives at Auckland High Court with his wife Helen Craig.
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

Colin Craig arrives at Auckland High Court with his wife Helen Craig.

The allegations quickly became public. In response Craig issued the leaflet Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas and held the press conference. He has maintained that his relationship with MacGregor was reciprocal, and has continued to say they both behaved inappropriately. He alleged that the sexual harassment claims were part of a Dirty Politics-type smear campaign designed to remove him as leader. This was denied by Williams and Stringer when they gave evidence. 

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Already Craig's lawyers plan to appeal both the verdict and the amount of money he was ordered to pay. In an original statement of claim Williams sought $900,000 of general and punitive damages.

Jordan Williams at the High Court at Auckland.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Jordan Williams at the High Court at Auckland.

Craig is also taking defamation proceedings himself against John Stringer and Cameron Slater, which will be heard at the same court next year. 

HE SAID/SHE SAID

The relationship

Rachel MacGregor arrives at the High Court at Auckland to give evidence in the Colin Craig defamation trial.
PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

Rachel MacGregor arrives at the High Court at Auckland to give evidence in the Colin Craig defamation trial.

* MacGregor said she had a close relationship with Craig initially but later formed the view that he was "disgusting". She said he tried to kiss her and touch her breast on the 2011 election night and after that she pushed for a clause in her contract that they stay at different hotels. 

* Craig said the kiss was consensual and that MacGregor had told him she wanted to be "more than his press secretary". He says he rebuffed her advances and admitted the kiss to his wife. He said the poems he wrote to her were a list of compliments to boost her confidence. 

The work 

Colin Craig in his days as Conservative Party leader, a party he was the primary bank roller of.
DAVID WHITE

Colin Craig in his days as Conservative Party leader, a party he was the primary bank roller of.

* MacGregor said Craig increasingly gave her "menial" tasks to do which she thought his primary-school aged daughter would be capable of.  Other times she claimed he made up excuses for her to stay in the office and called her late at night with complaints of being unable to sleep. She criticised his frugality which she said saw them travel long distances with no time for rest because he refused to pay for a hotel. 

* Both Helen and Colin Craig said MacGregor "struggled" with her work and finances and formed the view she wasn't coping. They decided her role would be job shared with Angela Storr who also gave evidence that MacGregor wasn't pulling her weight. 

Those photos in the grass 

* Craig said the idea for the photos came from MacGregor, but she told the court she thought they were a "stupid" idea 

The settlement 

* MacGregor said the sexual harassment claim was settled confidentially. 

* Craig said she withdrew the claim. 

The finances 

* MacGregor said Craig verbally told her he would pay her a higher rate during the election period but that he then refused to discuss when the period was and how much the rate would be. As a result she stopped invoicing him and fell into debt. She said he agreed to pay her two $10,000 advances instead. 

* Craig said he always paid her invoices, and his lawyers put to MacGregor that he didn't want to discuss the pay rate at the time because he was busy and stressed. Craig claimed MacGregor had fallen into financial difficulty of her own accord and that he and his wife agreed to give her a loan to help her which they later "forgave" on compassionate grounds. 

The wife 

* MacGregor told the court she phoned Craig's wife of 25 years, Helen Craig, to tell her she thought her husband was having an emotional affair with her. MacGregor said Helen Craig asked her, "What's been your part in this?" MacGregor said she offered to discuss it further, but never heard from her again. 

* Helen Craig told the court MacGregor rang her and admitted to having an emotional affair with her husband and said they had kissed. She said she wanted Helen Craig to know before the media reported it. Craig said she offered to discuss the matter with her further, but never heard from MacGregor again. 

 - Stuff

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