The other court decision Colin Craig doesn?t want you to see [UPDATED]

Colin Craig (both of them) with the interviewer and Mr X

Colin Craig (both of them) with the interviewer and Mr X

At 5 pm on October the 3rd 2016, court-ordered suppression was lifted on something that Colin Craig’s lawyers successfully kept from the?Williams v Craig defamation case?jury as well as the defense witnesses, the media and the public.

Last year Rachel MacGregor took Colin Craig to the Human Rights Tribunal over ?breaches of the confidentiality agreement Mr Craig agreed to in his settlement of Ms MacGregor?s earlier claim for sexual harassment.

The Tribunal ordered Mr Craig pay Ms MacGregor $128,780 in damages.

This is the largest amount ever awarded under the Human Rights legislation.

In addition, Mr Craig subsequently paid Ms MacGregor?s costs, which were agreed to be $100,000.

The Tribunal also granted Ms MacGregor a restraining order against Mr Craig preventing him from making further comments.

 

BACK TO THE FUTURE

To understand what led up to this, we need to go back and explain what the jury in the Williams v Craig case heard.

Concerns about Mr Craig and Ms MacGregor were raised inside the Conservative Party since 2011. ?And something?now referred to as “the 2011 election night incident” where both parties accepted that something inappropriate happened. ?The lowest point in the Williams v Craig trial was when Mr Craig went into the explicit detail Ms MacGregor had outlined in pre-trial documents ? details which until then were carefully avoided by all witnesses (and the lawyers) so as to avoid re-victimization of Ms MacGregor.

Mr Craig claims of what precisely happened was very different to Ms MacGregor?s. Whatever the case, it does seem to have triggered alarm bells with Ms MacGregor as new rules were subsequently agreed on to keep Colin more distant. ?Around this time, people in the Conservative party were aware of these developments, and were led to understand that a code of conduct, or a chaperone system was put in place. This was explained by board members who were called at the trial. ?Even the Party?s former chairman, Brian Dobbs (a witness for Colin Craig) said that he had expressed his concern to Colin Craig regarding his behaviour around three times a year since 2011.

As you have seen in other media reports, Mr Craig’s intentions towards Rachel MacGregor flared back up and the collective attempts to keep things to a working relationship failed. ?

There is a theme that Mr Craig likes to sleep on, beside, between or otherwise near Rachel’s legs that cropped up in the evidence time and time again, and he brought this up during a car trip with Rachel a few days before the 2014 elections as Mr Craig expressed how well he had slept, because he had availed himself of his imagine-sleeping-on-Rachel’s-legs technique. ?We all know what happened next: ?she quit?two days before the election.

As the dispute over money and sexual harassment got bogged down, Rachel engaged lawyers to act on her behalf. ?This process ended up in mediation before a hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal could occur.

There were other issues at play, such as a debt, a loan that eventually attracted a 29.5% interest rate (allegedly only applied after Ms MacGregor filed her claim for sexual harassment), and a refusal to agree on an hourly rate for the work she had already done.

All through this are suggestions by Mr and Mrs Craig that all they were trying to do was help Rachel who had become?ill, both physically and mentally. ?On top of that, they loaned her $20,000. ?This is at the same time as Rachel being unable to invoice for her work because Mr Craig refused to settle on an hourly rate. ?This is also the loan that the Craig’s put a 29.5% interest rate on. ?Their explanation was that this was to gain Ms MacGregor’s attention, as she had at that point totally withdrawn.

The first negotiated settlement sorted all these issues out. ?It must be understood that Rachel MacGregor never wanted this fight. ?She didn’t want it public. ?She just wanted to crawl in a hole and try and get her life back on track.

Mr Craig on the other hand created a clever device. ?Instead of one agreement covering the sexual harassment issues as well as the money, he had these put into two separate agreements with the forgiveness of the loan on a third set of documents. ?So desperate was he to hide what was going on, Colin Craig even had his lawyers write the letter for Rachel?s lawyers to put on their letter head and send back requesting ?compassionate forgiveness? of the loan. In reality it had all been agreed in the mediation.

It was only the settlement agreement about the money that he told the Conservative Party board about, and involved a final payment of $16,000. ?Christine Rankin gave evidence that Colin Craig had told her no other agreement existed. She wasn?t told about the $20,000 loan being ‘forgiven’ or the sexual harassment settlement.

All this was framed up as nothing more than an “employment dispute”. ?Nothing to do with a sexual harassment claim. ?And as far as Mr Craig was concerned, since the parties settled, there never?was?a sexual harassment complaint.

Having silenced Ms MacGregor using?confidentially obligations, Mr Craig proceeded to use one of the two agreements to ?prove? to people that no sexual harassment settlement existed. ?He also told people the sexual harassment claim was ?withdrawn? ? a slur on Ms MacGregor which might have been technically correct but is wholly misleading: it was settled.

The matter should have been over then, but Mr Craig went on to breach the settlement agreement and confidentiality obligation he was demanding Ms MacGregor comply with. ?First with the ?Sauna Interview?, where Mr Craig implied that Rachel MacGregor was incompetent. ?He said on national TV that the stress was getting on top of her prior to her resignation and they had been ?job-sharing? her position. ?Behind the scenes, Mr Craig was also discrediting Rachel?s reputation, and departing from the agreed line that they had ?met and resolved their differences? – as recorded in the sexual harassment settlement document.

So Ms MacGregor was helpless and silenced while Mr Craig was ignoring his obligations. ?

Even though Mr Craig was breaching the confidentiality agreement had Ms MacGregor corrected any of Mr Craig?s misstatements she would have lost the ability to enforce the agreement.

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Jordan Williams, via Stuff

ENTER JORDAN WILLIAMS

This is where Jordan Williams fits in. ?He had been friends with Ms MacGregor and was supporting her throughout the unending ordeal. ?He had known the lurid details of Mr Craig?s behaviour since November 2014 when Rachel asked him what she should do.

So Mr Williams found himself between a rock and a hard place. ?He knew the details of Mr Craig’s behaviour, of his breaches of the agreement, and of Ms MacGregor?s helpless position in being unable to defend herself. While he had promised confidence to Ms MacGregor he knew that Ms MacGregor could not correct Mr Craig?s false claims or the picture that?Mr Craig was projecting to the public: ?that he was the innocent victim of an obsessed woman etc.

Mr Williams also had an obligation to disclose information to someone who was a major financial sponsor of the Taxpayers Union ? someone who was Colin Craig?s largest financial supporter, who was being misled by Mr Craig.

Leaving the moral and ethical debate aside, Jordan Williams tried to get the Conservative Party to see Mr Craig’s behaviour as it really was. ?Not as Mr Craig had painted it to the party board. ?He disclosed some of Mr Craig’s?written communications to Rachel to the donor and the Conservative Party chairman, in the hope this would drop the scales from their eyes.

This had the effect of Mr Craig standing down as leader of the Conservative Party. Behind the scenes Colin Craig had called in his lawyers to tell the Conservative Party board that they couldn?t fire him without a ?fair process? and ?formal complaint?. ?Eventually the agreed wording was that he would stand down ?pending a review?.

Later that day, this blog published ?Two of Me?, a poem written by Mr Craig and given to Ms MacGregor. The circumstances of the disclosure of that poem were canvassed at the Williams v Craig trial. Suffice to say that sources on both the pro-Colin and anti-Colin factions were leaking to this blog. ?The poem proved that, contrary to assertions by Mr Craig this was not a tale of a mad women ?obsessed? with him.

Had Mr Williams wanted to ?hit? Colin Craig or use any of the information for ?dirty politics? or reasons other than defending his friend Ms MacGregor, I doubt he would have kept quiet for the 7-odd months before Mr Craig began attacking Ms MacGregor publicly. ?In addition, as became clear at trial he had much more damaging material than the single poem he disclosed to this blog.

Mr Craig was understandably unhappy at the turn of these events. ?He subsequently held his now infamous press conferences where he continued to attack Ms MacGregor. He told New Zealand that Ms MacGregor was bad with money and needed a loan when in truth the advances were only necessary because Mr Craig hadn?t agreed Ms MacGregor?s pay rate and he had not paid her for some months.

An example of this manipulation was Mr and Mrs Craig?s claim that the $20,000 loan was written off ?on compassionate grounds?. As is clear in the HRT decision published today, and which the Williams v Craig jury never saw, the write-off was in fact part of the combined financial and sexual harassment settlement.

A month later Mr Craig launched the ?Dirty Politics? booklet and sent it to 1.6 million households. ?In it, Mr Craig made claims and assertions that the court found defamatory of Jordan Williams. It claimed that what Williams had told the Party board were all lies. ?They were not.

But in doing so, Colin Craig again breached the confidentiality he had agreed on with Rachel MacGregor. ?Rachel, it must be remembered, wanted it all settled and behind her. ?For Colin to rip off the scab on national TV and through 1,600,000 letterboxes throughout the nation, essentially indicating there was no sexual harassment, was a whole new nightmare for her.

THE HRT CASE DETAILS THAT WERE SUPPRESSED

According to the testimony at the Williams v Craig trial, even before the publication of the booklet, Mr Williams had arranged and paid for new lawyers to represent Rachel MacGregor. Rachel was already back to the HRT to enforce the confidentially agreement. ?This time, instead of a negotiated settlement, the HRT made a decision: ?The HRT case was fully decided in Ms MagGregor’s favour awarding her a record amount for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to the feelings.

The decision speaks for itself. ?It is brutal to Colin Craig and is what he fought tooth and nail to prevent you from reading. ?Here are some extracts:

Mr Craig breached the confidentiality obligations ?repeatedly and intentionally? (para 142.6)

The breaches were ?deliberate, systematic, egregious and repeated? (para 112)

?Mr Craig is wealthy, well-connected and well-advised. At all times he has been in the more powerful position than Ms MacGregor. He has 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. He has disregarded his obligations under the Human Rights Act and the settlement agreement? (para 142.4)

?Any steps he did take were motivated by self-interest? (para 124)

?The breaches occurred in the most public and damaging of circumstances? (para 125)

?Mr Craig was controlling the narrative. 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 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 and a fair inference was that what she was seeking through the sexual harassment complaint was money?(para 126)

?His actions were calculated and the likely impact on Ms MacGregor was obvious? (para 126)

?Mr Craig has had legal advice throughout. The most significant breaches were pre-scripted and, as submitted by Ms MacGregor, engineered to attract maximum publicity. He did not stumble into the breaches, He sought, fed and received media attention? (para 127)

?His brief of evidence, as filed and read into evidence, was correctly described by Ms MacGregor, as nothing short of a vilification of her? (para 128)

One of the things that made the Williams v Craig trial so hard to watch was witness after witness such as Brian Dobbs, Laurence Day and Bob McCoskrie take the stand to defend Colin Craig’s reputation. They presumably did this without the prior knowledge that Colin Craig had such devastating findings of fact made against him by another court. ?(Way to hang your friends out to dry, eh Colin?)

This is where the court system does your head in. ?We were are at a point where Mr Craig is claiming he did not sexually harass Rachel, that his political demise was all the fault of Williams, Rachel taking the stand trying to explain what he did (and why Jordan did what he did), but the fact a court has already found in favour of Ms MacGregor could not be discussed.

This led to some weird testimony where Rachel had to talk around things. ?She wasn’t able to quote certain facts?because the court had agreed these would not be used in this case. ?

So desperate was Mr Craig to prevent the HRT?decision from becoming public prior to the Williams case, he appealed the HRT?s decision to lift suppression. ?While both Ms MacGregor and Mr Williams? legal teams argued against this in in the end Mr Craig’s legal team prevailed ? until ?5 pm today. ?

In the end, it didn?t matter. ?Even without the HRT decision the jury in the Williams v Craig case saw straight through Mr Craig and they unanimously believed Jordan and Rachel?s evidence. They awarded Mr Williams every cent he had claimed ? the full $1.27 million.

This is what the HRT found regarding Rachel:

Ms MacGregor was an honest witness (para 54)

She confided in Jordan Williams and showed him letters and cards written to her by Mr Craig at a time when she was under no obligation of confidence to Mr Craig (the mediation had not yet been agreed to and had not taken place). She was entitled to speak to whoever she wished prior to the confidentiality agreement being signed (para 85)

The Tribunal said ?Mr Craig?s entire counterclaim fails for the simple reason it has no factual foundation? (para 80)

?It is difficult to see any basis for criticising Ms MacGregor?s conduct. With the exception of the single tweet of 22 June 2015 (of which Mr Craig made nothing) she has at all time adhered to the settlement and the confidentiality obligation.? (para 119)

She has experienced, as a direct result of Mr Craig?s breaches, such feelings 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 (para 142.7)

Mr Craig is, in the eyes of the courts, a defamer, a liar and without a doubt has victimised Rachel MacGregor.

Finally, the sunshine Colin Craig was running from has come out.

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At a glance: ?The amounts paid to Ms MacGregor by Mr Craig add up to $264,780.

  • $20,000 as a “loan”, but can be considered?an advance on an invoice not yet finalised
  • $16,000 as a full and final payment against this invoice, with the loan “forgiven”
  • $128,780 in damages
  • $100,000 towards costs

 

UPDATE:

[2016] NZHRRT 6 – MacGregor v Craig-2 by Cam Slater on Scribd

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