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Rankin told Craig: "You're stuffed"

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/09/2016
Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig © Getty Images Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

 The former chief of the Conservative Party says leader Colin Craig told her his press secretary was just misinterpreting the poems he was sending her and was "mentally ill".

Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams is suing Mr Craig for defamation over comments Mr Craig made in a widely distributed leaflet and at a press conference in July, 2015.

Mr William's lawyers say Mr Craig had claimed their client had spread lies and fabricated documents explaining the reasons behind the sudden resignation of Mr Craig's press secretary, Rachel MacGregor, before the 2014 national election.

On Wednesday, former Conservative Party chief executive Christine Rankin told the High Court at Auckland she had for a "long period of time" heard rumours of an affair between Mr Craig and Ms MacGregor and eventually confronted Mr Craig.

She said after initially claiming he had only "gotten carried away a bit", he eventually admitted there had been some inappropriate activity, including a kiss - but said it was consensual and not sexual harassment.

"You didn't? You're stuffed," Ms Rankin recalled saying.

When Ms Rankin asked him if he had sent Ms MacGregor a card saying "I slept well because I dreamed I was between your naked legs", "he hesitated for a moment and said: 'A card? Absolutely not."

Mr Williams earlier read the court the message in a text allegedly from Mr Craig.

Ms Rankin said Mr Craig had suggested the party pay Ms MacGregor extra money on top of about $10,000 they owed her in wages, although the idea was rejected.

He had also said Ms MacGregor was misunderstanding the situation because of "mental illness".

"Colin talked at length to me about Rachel having mental illness," Ms Rankin said.

She told the court Mr Craig said he saw Ms MacGregor like a sister, and was proud he had chosen his wife over her.

Former Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig and his wife Helen Craig, in 2014. © Getty Former Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig and his wife Helen Craig, in 2014.

Earlier, Mr Williams said he felt his "heart sinking" as he read romantic letters and poems allegedly from Mr Craig to Ms MacGregor in which Mr Craig complained about her ex-boyfriends, talked about buying her jewellery and said she had "healing hands".

One said she looked "unbelievably good in your new dress" and described Ms MacGregor's lips as "amazing to kiss".

On Tuesday, the court heard from Mr Williams that Ms MacGregor had confided him about alleged sexual harassment by Mr Craig at the time.

He said Mr Craig had stopped paying Ms MacGregor after she rebuffed his advances.

Mr Williams also said Ms MacGregor told him Mr Craig would walk into her hotel room when they travelled, had gotten changed in front of her and that he had tried to kiss and touch her.

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