Love poems and hot saunas: Week one of the Colin Craig trial

The first week of Colin Craig's latest defamation trial is at an end.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

The first week of Colin Craig's latest defamation trial is at an end.

Love poems, a stray glance down his former press secretary's top and a TV interview held in a hot sauna.

Just some of the things examined in week one of Colin Craig's defamation trial. 

The former Conservative Party leader is suing Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater in the Auckland High Court.

It's the latest of a string of defamation proceedings involving Craig to come before the court, centred around a sexual harassment case his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, took to the Human Rights Commission in 2014. The case was settled confidentially.

READ MORE:
Colin Craig defends infamous sauna interview
New love poem by Colin Craig revealed
Colin Craig's letters to Rachel MacGregor read out in court

Craig denies any sexual harassment, saying instead that he was the victim of a concerted campaign to oust him as leader.

This week another love poem Craig wrote to MacGregor was read out in court by Slater's lawyer, Brian Henry. 

Titled Beautiful, it featured lines like, "You are beautiful because your skin is so soft."

Also read to the court was a letter Craig wrote in the middle of the night in November 2011, just before the election and only six weeks into MacGregor's employment, in which he apologised for looking down her top, saying: "My eyes went where they shouldn't have gone."

"Physically, I do desire you," he said in another letter penned in February 2012. "There are some times I just want to kiss you and.. well.. go further."

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Henry questioned the appropriateness of Craig's letters in the context of his professional relationship with MacGregor, characterising them as "pub talk".

But Craig said he and MacGregor shared a "very close and affectionate" relationship.

Craig also defended a controversial "sauna interview" with former TV3 journalist David Farrier, telling the court he thought viewers would find it entertaining. 

In the 2015 interview, the increasingly sweaty duo sat in a hot sauna and discussed a range of topics, including the moon landing and junk food. 

Farrier gradually stripped off items of clothing before he and Craig showered together.

Henry asserted that Farrier's main motive for the interview was the controversy surrounding the sudden resignation of Craig's former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, before the 2014 election.

Craig had agreed to the interview despite the confidentiality of his and MacGregor's settlement of the sexual harassment complaint she had laid.

However, Craig didn't accept the MacGregor controversy was the sole reason for Farrier approaching him, saying he thought the interview had entertainment value. 

"In my opinion this is something people will watch, they're going to be interested in people in a hot sauna," he told the court. 

"It was promoted as 'this is going to be funny, watch this,' and I think there's an element of entertainment, people are just going to watch it because it's fun to watch people get hot and sweat and so on."

Craig is representing himself in the three-week trial, and has taken the stand to give evidence as his own first witness. He has spent much of the week under cross examination.

His wife of 25 years, Helen Craig, along with MacGregor, are expected to give evidence next week.

Articles published by Whaleoil alleged Craig did sexually harass MacGregor, and tried to pressure her into sleeping with him, all of which Craig denies. 

The millionaire property manager claims the articles effectively destroyed his reputation and ruined his political prospects.

The trial continues.

 - Stuff

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