Ex-Green claims colincraig.co.nz spoof site

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 11:50, July 31 2014
BUNFIGHT: Former Hamilton West Green Party candidate Max Coyle.
BRUCE MERCER

BUNFIGHT: Former Hamilton West Green Party candidate Max Coyle.

A former Green Party candidate, who once advised Justice Minister Judith Collins to "go kill yourself", says he is behind the colincraig.co.nz website.

Max Coyle stood down as the Hamilton West candidate for the Green Party in 2011 after admitting he misled the Waikato Times.

He confirmed today that he established the anonymous satirical website.

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COLINCRAIG.CO.NZ: Parody website of Conservative Party leader traced back to New Zealand.

His social media posts have attracted controversy previously, even before his exchange with Collins, appearing to suggest that three members of the Young Nats should be executed.

Conservative Party leader Craig this week said he was taking action to close down the site, which had gone to some lengths to remain anonymous, because it could confuse some poorly informed voters.

Although the website includes disclaimers that it is satire, it has no promoter statement. It mocks the Conservative Party as being made up of "businessmen that show women where to go", which will bring fresh thinking to Wellington.

"Our role will be to give the Government a backbone; to give them the support they need to make the tough calls, whether they're right or wrong, unless the public say otherwise, in which case we won't be the Government's backbone, we'll do what the mob wants."

Craig said he believed the site breached the Electoral Act so it was unlikely a challenge to the domain would be responded to.

"They either have to acknowledge who they are and put forward their case as to why they should get to keep it" or it would be shut down,'' Craig said.

"Our view is that they actually have breached the law, so I don't think they are going to suddenly turn up, put their hand up and say, 'oh, yes, that was me'."

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However, today, after a tip about previously unseen registration details, Coyle confirmed he was behind the site.

"The site was a bit of a have, we mostly just copied what the real Colin Craig says and what's on his website," Coyle said by email.

"The only criticism we've had is from people that quite rightly pointed out that Colin is his own ball of satire and the website and Twitter account weren't even necessary."

Coyle dismissed Craig's chances of having the site shut down.

"The Domain Name Commission can only shut down our site if we remained anonymous or if Colin Craig happened to own a company named Colin Craig (which he doesn't) and after he stated that we wouldn't come forward ... well, it's always nice to prove a politician wrong."

Coyle was not concerned about the threat of legal action.

"More than happy to butter up for a bunfight with old CC and Dry if it comes down to it."

Coyle refused to comment on whether his comments breached the Electoral Act.

The Green Party said Coyle was no longer a member of the party, having resigned some time ago, and it did not endorse his statements.

Craig is also locked in legal action against the Green Party, taking a defamation claim against Russel Norman over comments the co-leader made at the Big Gay Out.

Speaking from Napier today, Craig said it was "not surprising that it's somebody who may have some association with the Greens".

He maintained that the site should have disclosures about who was behind it.

"The website is clearly electioneering, there is no question in my mind," Craig said, adding that his initial concern was with what he claims is a breach of the Electoral Act.

"In terms of defamation or not defamation, look, we might look at that but the first [thing] is to make sure we've covered off the disclosure requirements of the Electoral Act."

Craig said Coyle should also explain on the website who he was.

"He needs to meet legal requirements and that means the website needs to clearly carry authorisation statements, because it clearly is electioneering, and if he's going to have a website like that maybe he should explain up-front who he is, perhaps some of his history."

The Electoral Commission could not immediately be reached for comment.

However, last week a spokeswoman said the Electoral Act contained an exemption from election advertising in cases involving the personal political views held by an individual.

 - ¬© Fairfax NZ News

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