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Craig ordered to pay $128,780 for breaches

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/10/2016
Colin Craig leaves the Auckland High Court. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Colin Craig leaves the Auckland High Court.

Colin Craig breached a confidential sexual harassment settlement with former press secretary Rachel MacGregor to try to bolster his own position, a Human Rights Review Tribunal decision concluded.

The tribunal ordered the former Conservative Party leaders to pay Ms MacGregor $128,780 for publicly talking about the settlement.

The sum included $120,000 damages for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings and is the largest tribunal has awarded for emotional harm.

The judgement was handed down in March but suppression orders applied until Monday because of Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams' defamation case against Mr Craig.

On Friday, a High Court jury found that Mr Craig had defamed Mr Williams' and ordered him to pay a record $1.27 million in damages.

The trial centred on alleged sexual harassment by Mr Craig of Ms MacGregor before her sudden resignation two days ahead of the 2014 election and Mr Craig's response to Mr Williams' decision to tell party members about the harassment.

Rachel MacGregor was the former press secretary for Colin Craig © Google+/Rachel MacGregor Rachel MacGregor was the former press secretary for Colin Craig

Before the hearing, Ms MacGregor and Mr Craig settled a sexual harassment and pay dispute through Human Rights Commission mediation, with both agreeing to confidentiality.

But after stepping down as leader in June 2015, Mr Craig talked to media, breaching the order 12 times.

The tribunal, in its decision, said Mr Craig was at all times in a more powerful position than Ms MacGregor.

It said he used his power and wealth to conduct a calculated campaign of breaches for the sole purpose of bolstering, or attempting to bolster, his own reputation, disregarding his obligations under the settlement agreement.
"Mr Craig was controlling the narrative," it said.

"He was exercising power and control over what was in the media by carefully releasing what he thought would save himself, what he thought would save his position and save his reputation."

The tribunal said the released information was selected to paint himself as a person who had been falsely accused by a woman who was clearly incapable of managing her money.

A fair inference was that what she was seeking through the sexual harassment complaint was money.

The tribunal described Ms MacGregor as an honest witness.

It said she had experienced, as a direct result of Mr Craig's breaches, feelings such as anxiety, anger, despair and alarm.

"She has been marginalised and her right to the protection of the Human Rights Act has been deliberately overridden by Mr Craig."

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