Ex-Conservative Party leader Colin Craig found by High Court to have sexually harassed press secretary

A High Court judgement has found former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig's press secretary Rachel MacGregor did not defame him by claiming he sexually harassed her - because the claim was true.

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The ex-Conservative Party leader had sued Rachel MacGregor for defamation. Source: 1 NEWS

In turn, the decision found Mr Craig defamed MacGregor by suggesting she had made false claims of sexual harassment against him, and that she was a liar. It also found he defamed her in suggesting that she had victimised the Craigs, and that she was the kind of person who would victimise and hurt a family.

On one of Ms MacGregor's cause of actions, which arose from Mr Craig’s booklet titled Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas, the judement found the suggestion that she had made false claims of sexual harassment against him, had withdrawn false claims of sexual harassment against him, falsely played "the victim" and was a liar were defamatory, and Mr Craig had not made out any defence. 

Ms MacGregor said today the decision was a relief.

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Ms MacGregor's lawyer says only her client can say whether she is happy with the sum awarded by the Human Rights Tribunal. Source: 1 NEWS

"It’s my strong wish that Justice Hinton’s ruling is not appealed by Mr Craig and that he finally leaves me alone to get on with my life," she said in a statement.

"After all this time, and all this litigation, I just want this awful ordeal to be finally over."

She said she found filing a sexual harassment complaint difficult and hoped New Zealand could "progress to being a place where any victim can know that if they do raise an alarm, good systems are in place so that they can be listened to in confidence, and that they won’t be re-traumatised by the experience".

"What started as a traumatic experience in itself, with sexual harassment, has been very much magnified by the years of legal actions. It’s turned into a new form of harassment that has lasted longer and been more painful than I could have ever imagined."

However, the ruling did find Ms MacGregor defamed Mr Craig in suggesting he was a bad employer who took advantage of her; he was cruel, nasty or unfair toward a young woman; he has harassed, abused or been nasty toward two or more women; and he caused a young woman to commit suicide. 

Mr Craig said in a statement today he was pleased the decision would "set the record straight". He added that he would continue to set that record straight on all claims made against him.

"The public deserve to know the truth," he added.

"These were very serious and damaging claims, which have all been shown to be false.

"I have not sought any damages from Ms MacGregor. This was simply about getting to the truth."