Rachel MacGregor's text messages to Colin Craig read to court video

PETER MEECHAM/stuff.co.nz

Rachel MacGregor arrives at the Auckland High Court.

Colin Craig's press secretary has denied sending the former Conservative Party leader any romantic messages. 

Rachel MacGregor is in the witness box for a second day, undergoing cross examination by Craig's lawyers. 

Defence counsel Stephen Mills QC suggested MacGregor shouldn't have asked him about her pay in the lead-up to an important radio interview. 

CHECKPOINT/Radio New Zealand

Colin Craig's press secretary Rachel MacGregor has told a court she was never romantic with her former boss. Radio New Zealand reporter Sarah Robson.

He also grilled her about text messages she sent to Craig, including, "You made my heart melt. Love ya. Night night."

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Mills said the sexual harassment allegations came as a "bolt out of the blue" for his client. 

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is fighting a defamation proceeding.
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is fighting a defamation proceeding.

MacGregor spent Wednesday giving evidence against Craig in the defamation case that Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams has taken against Craig. 

Earlier in the week MacGregor detailed for the first time allegations of sexual harassment she says Craig subjected her to during her three-year employment as his press secretary. 

On Wednesday she said the "final straw" in their working relationship came after a "long period" of alleged harassment, and after Craig refused to discuss her pay rate.

Jordan Williams testifies at the Colin Craig defamation trial.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Jordan Williams testifies at the Colin Craig defamation trial.

MacGregor quit two days before the 2014 general election, staying mum on the subject at the time, except to call Craig "manipulative". 

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Giving evidence, she said she stopped billing Craig in June because they had failed to reach an agreement on what her pay rate should be during the election. 

She said after broaching the subject with him again, en route to a radio interview, she was told, "Now is not the time to talk about it". 

A few minutes before, Craig had allegedly told her he had slept well because he dreamed of lying on her legs. 

That was the "final straw" for her, and she resigned, she said.

During cross examination, Craig's lawyer Stephen Mills QC suggested MacGregor had raised the pay issue with him at the wrong time and Craig would have been under "huge pressure". 

MacGregor agreed it wasn't an ideal time but said she had been consistently asking Craig about her pay and was aware the election would be over in two days. 

"All I said to him was that I wanted a guarantee that he would discuss this with me before the election. I said, 'I just want you to begin the discussion'," she said. 

"I didn't care about this political party, I'm not a politician. I'm someone who's paid to work, I'm not his friend who's just there for fun." 

Williams began proceedings against Craig after he alleged Craig defamed him by holding a press conference and delivering leaflets to 1.6 million houses to call Williams a liar.

He said the public accusations had damaged his reputation. 

By then Williams had taken his concerns about Craig's alleged sexual harassment to Conservative Party board members. 

Craig has consistently denied the allegations and alleges Williams was part of a Dirty Politics-type smear campaign against him. 

Lawyers for Craig say Williams had no reputation to ruin. 

On Wednesday MacGregor told the court that Craig was "frugal" and he questioned the hours she was billing him. 

Sometimes he wouldn't sign off her timesheets until she provided "evidence" that she had worked the hours she was reporting, she said.

As a consequence she couldn't bill him until he signed them off, she said. 

She recalled on one occasion travelling with him on business and they stayed with his friends to save money. 

She was forced to sleep on the couch, she said. 

Presented with a text MacGregor had sent Craig two days after the 2011 general election, when she later accused him of trying to kiss her and touch her breast, she denied sending him romantic messages. 

One text she sent to Craig read: "You made my heart melt. Love ya."

MacGregor said it wasn't a romantic message. 

"We were very close friends, don't get me wrong," she said. 

"[But] I never responded to any of his love letters." 

She previously described herself as a "flowery" writer and agreed she had sent Craig birthday, Christmas and 'thank you' cards. 

She pointed to one text in which she said she was asking Craig to stop talking about his so-called 'sleep technique' where he purported to think about lying on her legs in order to fall asleep. 

"Be careful with that sleep talk. Probably not wise :(" she is said to have written. 

"Bit mean to offer a solution, then take it away," Craig allegedly wrote. 

"I didn't offer a solution," she replied. 

In another text MacGregor wrote, "I hope there's time for me to loosen up your shoulders tomorrow." 

She said this was because Craig suffered from a disease that caused him serious pain. 

In 2011 she wrote, "Ok great, I'm feeling the same, tired, but spending time with you may just perk me up again." 

"This is hardly a grudging response," Mills said, in response to evidence from MacGregor that Craig frequently made her work long hours in order to do menial tasks. 

 - Stuff

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