A "spoof" campaign to raise funds so Conservative Party leader Colin Craig can sue Greens co-leader Russel Norman has already raised $50,000, Craig says.
Craig said this morning his party had launched Keep the Greens Honest, a campaign calling for funds in response to a similar fund by the Green party to defend itself from legal threats by Craig.
During the Big Gay Out in February, Norman said that Craig thought a woman's place was in the kitchen and a gay man's was in the closet.
Craig sought an apology from Norman, who refused and said any action would be vigorously defended.
Craig announced this week that he would initially pursue his defamation claim focusing only on Norman's claims about his views on women.
Craig said today the Greens' campaign was misleading.
"Russell [sic] Norman is trying to turn his make-believe statements into some sort of moral crusade," Craig said.
"The fact is he lied about my viewpoints, and now he's trying to cover that up."
The fund came at the suggestion of members who wanted to hold Norman to account.
"Pledges are coming in so fast we are struggling to get an up to date number, however our goals to get 500 pledges and raise $50,000 have already been exceeded," Craig said.
His statement did not make it clear when the party began taking donations or whether he had personally contributed to the fund.
A spokesman for the Green Party said Craig's latest action was a "political stunt" and it would not be commenting.
The party's legal fund had a "good steady stream" of donations but they would not be providing a running total of how much had been raised.
Norman said earlier this week the party would defend the action because of its belief in free speech.
"We are launching an appeal, because unlike Colin Craig we don't have deep pockets," Norman said.
"We are asking all New Zealanders who care about free speech and a tolerant society to support our defence.
"The freedom of political speech and an inclusive and tolerant society are core values of the Green Party. We don't roll over on those values just because someone with deep pockets sets their lawyer on us."
- Fairfax Media
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