Norman shouldn't apologise - Key

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 08:16 24/02/2014

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Prime Minister John Key is firmly in the Green Party camp over political free speech and threatened legal action by Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

Key this morning told told Breakfast that Greens co-leader Russel Norman should not apologise for comments made about Craig at Auckland's Big Gay Out.

"I don't know the ins and outs of all the comments, but essentially this is politics - it's a rough and tumble," Key said.

"The last week we had Winston Peters saying apparently, I had something to do with Huka Lodge, all of which was not true, but if I spent my life trying to sue people who said things I don't like about me I'd be in the courts every single day.

"It's just the nature of the business, you need to harden up a bit and just accept it."

He was talking after Craig threatened to sue Norman over comments Norman made a fortnight ago suggesting Craig thought a woman's place was in the kitchen and a gay man's place was in the closet.

Norman has not backed down from the comments and said he found Craig's views offensive.

Legal letters between the two in the past week saw the feud build, but Craig held back on a threat to launch a defamation case if Norman didn't apologise and retract the statements by 5pm last Friday.

Instead, he askedhis lawyers to draw up a draft claim and to advise on the costs and timing of a potential court case.

After the deadline passed Norman said: "He's made a big song and dance about it all week and here we are, it's D-Day and his response is he's going to talk to some lawyers."

Craig indicated court action might be dropped if the cost cut too heavily into campaign funds.

"We have to make decisions between ultimately funding election campaigns or litigation," he said.

However Craig also said the legal action could be expanded to include further comments Norman made about him over the course of a number of interviews throughout the past week.

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