Colin Craig ruled to have defamed Jordan Williams
Colin Craig has been found to have defamed Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams.
The jury returned with the verdict in the long running defamation case on Friday in the High Court at Auckland after retiring on Thursday afternoon.
As part of a jury's role in a defamation case they also rule on damages - and ordered Craig should pay Williams $1.27 million in total.
But Craig's lawyers immediately announced they plan to appeal the verdict and challenge the size of the damages awarded.
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Outside court Craig said he was surprised and disappointed with the jury's decision.
"We are very, very surprised and disappointed," Craig said
"What my understanding is, is that the next issue is to simply to put it back to the judge for her consideration," Craig said.
Craig's wife Helen did not want to comment.
The damages figure against Craig is made up of $400,000 in damages for one part of the defamation claim with $90,000 in additional punitive damages.
For a second part of the defamation claim, the jury awarded $650,000 in damages, and another $130,000 in punitive damages
Williams' lawyers said they were pleased with the outcome and it had been tough to take Craig on.
"Mr Craig is a very powerful man, as are his lawyers and his counsel and they just threw everything at us."
Cameron Slater, best known as blogger Whale Oil, was at the court to hear the verdict. Emails between Williams and Slater were part of the trial.
Slater said he was not surprised at the amount given in damages and said the verdict was a "just" decision.
The decision comes after a trial which revealed for the first time details of why Colin Craig's former press secretary walked out on him.
The trial saw the former Conservative Party leader forced to publicly read out passages of private messages to Rachel MacGregor.
Jordan Williams issued defamation proceedings against Colin Craig after the former Conservative Party leader delivered a Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas leaflet to 1.6 million homes in 2015.
Craig was alleged to have spent nearly $300,000 on the pamphlet.
The leaflet contained Craig's claims that he had been strategically removed from the Conservative Party as leader. He alleged Williams was party to what was described in court as a "malicious" campaign and part of the "Dirty Politics brigade". Craig repeated those claims in a press conference.
It also contained an interview with a mystery "Mr X" - later revealed to be Craig himself.
Williams argued that Craig's leaflet damaged his reputation.
At the trial's beginning Williams' lawyer Peter McKnight said the case would centre around a sexual harassment case Craig's former press secretary Rachel MacGregor took to the Human Rights Commission in 2014.
The case was settled privately with both parties signing confidentiality agreements.
Craig denied sexual harassment allegations and the specific details of the allegations had never been aired publicly before the case.
When MacGregor spoke in court she said Craig was a "dodgy" liar who lacked integrity.
She said she resigned from her job because Craig allegedly sexually harassed her and "repeatedly refused" to discuss her pay rate.
She confirmed she had outlined a series of allegations to Williams including that Craig had asked her to move into a Conservative Party apartment above their offices, that he entered her hotel rooms without knocking, that he told her what he wanted her to wear, that Craig changed in front of her in the office, found excuses for her to work late under the guise of needing to "debrief", and had kissed her and touched her breast on the 2011 election night.
Craig consistently denied any of his actions constituted harassment and denied some of the allegations by Williams.
He insisted he was the victim of a concerted campaign to oust him as leader, which he said was part of the Dirty Politics scandal.
He said his letters and texts to MacGregor were reciprocated, and the former Conservative chief executive Christine Rankin told the court she believed the pair were having an affair.
Craig's wife Helen said she was aware of a growing bond between her husband and his press secretary, so the pair drew up a set of "rules" for their working relationship.
She told the court that MacGregor allegedly confessed to her that she had been having an "emotional affair" with Craig, and said they had kissed.
The jury trial was in front of Justice Sarah Katz.
It is unusual for civil issues to be determined by a jury, and the court was told it was the first time Auckland had a jury determine a civil issue since 2002.