The decade-long fights between former Conservative Party boss Colin Craig and various parties, notably his former employee Rachel MacGregor, has been touted as coming to and end with this week’s Supreme Court decision refusing leave for Craig to appeal further.
However, regrettably, that may not be the case.
The Supreme Court this week rules that Craig could not challenge a High Court decision that he had sexually harassed Rachel MacGregor, saying that the Court did not see “any appearance of a miscarriage of justice”.
After almost a decade of legal action and two appeals, Colin Craig has been told he can’t challenge a High Court ruling that he sexually harassed his press secretary in the lead-up to the 2014 general election.
The Supreme Court ruling confirmed Justice Hinton’s 2019 decision that letters sent by Craig to MacGregor were “highly inappropriate” for an employer to send to an employee, and had “clear sexual content”.
Craig appealed the Hinton decision twice and in May this year the Court of Appeal dismissed his case saying MacGregor’s comments were true –
“… [He] was aware of the solid foundation of her sexual harassment claim, that he acted inappropriately and that he settled her sexual harassment claim,” the decision said.
“He also knew his statements in reply were false and misleading.”
The Court ordered costs of $2500. (You read correctly).
Kensington Swan partner Linda Clark, who has represented MacGregor, said Craig had argued it was in the public interest for the Supreme Court to allow his appeal, but the court disagreed saying there were “no issues of general or public importance and what he was really trying to do was have another court look once again at the facts about whether he sexually harassed Ms MacGregor”.
“Those facts are not in dispute. Multiple courts have found that he did and now – at last – a line is drawn under that,” she said.
Is This The End For Colin Craig?
The most recernt case is not the first time that Craig had been to the Supreme Court but on this occasion he was not successful. Justice Hinton made a decision that was primary in favour of Rachel MacGregor but reserved the issue of damages for further submissions.
In the meantime, as usual for Colin Craig, he was off to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal declined his appeal and he then sought leave to go to the Supreme Court. There was a certain amount of anxiousness in both camps as the Supreme Court was taking quite sometime to consider the application for leave to appeal.
So now that leaves Justice Hinton to consider the level of damages that should be awarded. Of course Colin Craig can always appeal that decision: as is his way.
It will be interesting to see as to whether or not Justice Hinton awards an amount near or in excess of that that was awarded by Justice Edwards in the Slater proceedings. In that case Justice Toogood had said that damages should not be awarded. Craig, of course, appealed.
The Court of Appeal disagree with Justice Toogood and sent that back to the High Court for damages to be assessed. The sum of $325,000 by way of damages was awarded plus $95,000 costs.
Unfortunately for Craig, in the meantime, Cameron Slater had gone bankrupt.
But there is more. There is yet further proceedings between Colin Craig and a former Conservative party board member, John Stringer. They have been back and forth to the High Court in both Auckland and Christchurch (and the Court of Appeal) with in excess of 25 Minutes and or Judgments having been issued.
So when will it ever end?
Wellington-based barrister Peter McKnight (left) who acted for Jordan Williams and his long drawn out litigation with Colin Craig was approached comment.
He said that Mr Craig had certainly added to the law of defamation like no other in the history of defamation law in New Zealand.
“We think of the likes of David Lange and Robert Muldoon, but they have nothing near that of Mr Craig”