A High Court judge has ruled former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig committed “moderately serious sexual harassment” against his press secretary, and was defamed by a controversial blogger.
A 250-page ruling on the defamation battle between Mr Craig and blogger Cameron Slater was released publicly by Justice Kit Toogood on Thursday morning.
The pair counter-sued each other last May for defamation over allegations involving Mr Craig’s press secretary Rachel MacGregor.
Mr Craig claimed Mr Slater defamed him on his blog, Whale Oil, in allegations mostly relating to sexual misbehaviour and money issues. He says those allegations damaged his reputation.
In an effort to defend himself, Mr Craig distributed a pamphlet – Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas - to more than 1.6 million homes around the country. Mr Slater then counter-sued, claiming the pamphlet defamed him, and asked for more than $8 million - $5000 for each household that received the pamphlet.
On Thursday, Justice Toogood ruled two of Mr Slater’s claims defamed Mr Craig, but awarded no damages.
"The reputational damage which Mr Craig suffered throughout the events traversed at length in this judgment resulted almost entirely from his own actions," he said in the ruling.
"To the extent, if any, that his reputation suffered further damage because of the two defamatory statements for which I have held the defendants to be liable, I am more than satisfied that the declarations that he was defamed in that way provide adequate vindication."
Mr Slater told RadioLIVE it was a “technical draw”.
“Colin Craig sued me for 18 alleged defamations; the judge has found that on 16 of those things I absolutely told the truth about him. More importantly, [Judge Toogood] has found that Colin Craig did sexually harass Rachel MacGregor, and on two matters he’s found that I got some things wrong, even though I did good research on them, but I got some things wrong,” Mr Slater told RadioLIVE’s Mark Sainsbury.
Mr Craig has so fatally damaged his own reputation through his own actions that he doesn’t deserve any damages.
Mr Slater says he’s “thoroughly pleased with the results”.
“Because it vindicates Rachel MacGregor’s position. She’s an innocent victim in all of this, and has continued to be hounded by this guy [Colin Craig],” he said.
A decision on the legal battle between Ms MacGregor and Mr Craig isn't expected for months yet.
- Colin Craig drops damages claim, but presses ahead with suit against Rachel MacGregor
- Givealittle campaign launched to pay Rachel MacGregor's legal bills
Speaking to RadioLIVE, Mr Craig said he too is “pleased” with the ruling.
“Because I won. [Mr Slater] did say that he thought the judgement was a bit bizarre that he hadn’t succeeded; I don’t think it was bizarre.
“The judge clearly said that he worked together with two other people to attack me and try to remove me as leader of a political party. That’s now a finding – that is what happened,” Mr Craig said.
“That’s why Cameron didn’t succeed. There’s no mystery, it’s not bizarre, it’s pretty obvious – there was a plot, I responded to that, and I was entitled to do so.”
Listen to the full interviews with Cameron Slater and Colin Craig above.
Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, 9am - 12pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.