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Craig again denies harassment in court

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has told a court his political career crashed to a halt when a well-known Kiwi blogger "irresponsibly" published "false" sexual harassment allegations about him.

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, in a series of posts in 2015, claimed Mr Craig sexually harassed his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor.

Ms MacGregor resigned suddenly two days before the 2014 election, having worked closely with Mr Craig from about the time he founded the Conservative Party three years earlier.

Mr Craig is suing Mr Slater for defamation over his blog posts, while Mr Slater is counter-suing Mr Craig over allegations the former politician made in a 12-page pamphlet he sent to 1.6 million homes trying to defend himself.

Representing himself before Justice Kit Toogood in High Court at Auckland on Monday, Mr Craig said Mr Slater's "false" allegations created a media "fire-storm" and led to him being forced to resign as leader of the Conservative Party, which he founded in 2011.

Calling himself as his first witness, Mr Craig told how he hired Ms MacGregor not long after founding the Conservative Party and the two developed a close relationship.

Eventually, they kissed on the night of the 2011 election with Ms MacGregor's top also being taken off. Mr Craig said the pair also shared intimate letters, poems and texts.

However, he said contrary to Ms MacGregor's claims, the letters and texts were reciprocal and it was he who subsequently set down boundaries to ensure their relationship did not turn sexual again.

It was only at the end of a stressful 2014 election campaign, he claimed, that Ms MacGregor told him she loved him.

When he told her they could not be together, she quit four days later, Mr Craig said.

Mr Craig said once the pair attended mediation, a sexual harassment case by Ms MacGregor was withdrawn with both agreeing they had at times acted inappropriately by kissing and exchanging intimate letters.

The details of their relationship were canvassed in an earlier defamation case, in which Mr Craig was ordered to pay Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams $1.27 million for comments in the same leaflet Mr Slater is suing over, and at a press conference.

That ruling has since been set aside by the presiding judge, a decision Mr Williams is appealing.

During that trial Ms MacGregor said Mr Craig harassed her over a long period.

The judge-alone trial continues.

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