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Craig wins appeal in poem lawsuit

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017

A copyright lawsuit over Colin Craig's poetry is going to have its day in court after all.

The former Conservative Party leader has won his appeal of a decision to throw the case out as "vexatious", despite those opposing him saying he's had enough court time.

Mr Craig last year took WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater to court for publishing his poem Two of Me on his blog, along with Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams for giving Mr Slater the poem.

The poem was written to Mr Craig's former press secretary, who later accused him of sexual harassment.

Judge Mary Beth Sharp threw Mr Craig's copyright lawsuit out before it went to trial in December, calling it "vexatious", "improper" and a "deception perpetrated on the court".

But Mr Craig's lawyers this week appealed that decision in the High Court, saying he should have been cut a "bit more slack" because he wasn't a legal expert and had run the case himself.

Justice Mark Woolford has now allowed the appeal, saying "Mr Craig's claim cannot be seen as groundless".

"Even if Mr Craig's primary motivation was to protect his reputation, I am of the view that his copyright claim should still be determined on its merits," he said.

"He is entitled to have his day in court."

Justice Woolford also noted Mr Craig viewed himself as "a poet of some literary merit''.

The case will now be heard in full in the District Court.

At this week's hearing, Mr Craig's lawyer Kevin Glover argued it was a "legitimate claim for infringement of copyright" and had nothing to do with Mr Craig's other legal cases.

But Mr Williams' lawyer, Peter McKnight, told Justice Woolford the issue could not be considered independently of Mr Craig's numerous other proceedings, reading out a long list.

"He's had his day in court. In fact, he's had seven-and-a-half weeks," Mr McKnight said.

The publication of the poem came after the resignation of Mr Craig's press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, days before the 2014 general election, with allegations of impropriety leading to Mr Craig's resignation as party leader the following year.

Mr Craig has been involved in a series of defamation proceedings over the saga since, including with Mr Williams, Mr Slater, former Conservative board chair John Stringer and former employee Jacqueline Stiekema.

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