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Revealed: Colin Craig ordered to pay Rachel MacGregor NZ's largest ever sum for emotional harm


It has been revealed that the Human Rights Review Tribunal ordered Colin Craig to pay Rachel MacGregor $128,780 earlier this year after he breached a confidential settlement agreement between the two.

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

The award includes $120,000 in damages for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings, and it is the largest sum awarded by the Tribunal for emotional harm to date. The maximum the tribunal can award is $200,000.

The Tribunal also granted Ms MacGregor a restraining order against Mr Craig, which would prevent him from making further comments.

Ms MacGregor took a claim to the tribunal after quitting as Mr Craig's press secretary two days before the 2014 election.

The pair then attended a confidential mediation in May of 2015 regarding the issues between the two which had prompted Ms MacGregor to quit, and they agreed to a confidential settlement.

In June and July of 2015, Mr Craig conducted media appearances and published a pamphlet delivered to about 1.6m New Zealand households, during which he breached the confidentiality of the settlement.

Ms MacGregor then took a claim to the Human Rights Tribunal, which hears claims relating to breaches of the Human Rights Act, the Privacy Act and the Health and Disability Commissioner Act, and covers discrimination, sexual harassment and privacy.

She sought enforcement of the confidentiality undertakings as well as damages for the harm caused by the breaches.

The tribunal has ordered Colin Craig to pay $128k in total damages and costs to Rachel MacGregor. Source: 1 NEWS

One of Ms MacGregor's lawyers, Linda Clark of Kensington Swan, said the Tribunal held a five-day hearing in December of 2015 and a decision was made in March this year.

However, both the Tribunal hearing and decision were subject to extensive suppression orders until 5pm today.

In its decision, the Human Rights Review Tribunal used strong language to descirbe Mr Craig's offending.

"Mr Craig had comprehensively, deliberately and systematically breached the confidentiality of his settlement with Ms MacGregor," the decision reads.

"Mr Craig had no legitimate reason for breaching the confidential settlement.

"The breaches were extensive, calculated and engineered to attract maximum publicity.

"The breaches caused Ms MacGregor significant humiliation, significant loss of dignity and significant injury to feelings.

"Each utterance has had the effect of diminishing the reputation of Ms MacGregor by portraying her as variously a mistress, a trouble-maker, a woman who cannot manage her own life, a woman with no financial management skills, who is mentally unwell and, in evidence before the Tribunal, a liar and a blackmailer."

CRAIG FOUND GUILTY OF DEFAMATION

On Friday, Mr Craig was ordered to pay Taxpayers' Union founder Jordan Williams $1.27m after a jury found that Mr Craig had defamed Mr Williams during the 2015 media appearances and pamphlet drop.

During the trial, parts of letters allegedly written by Mr Craig to Ms MacGregor were read to the court, as well as poems.

It included Mr Craig saying he wanted to kiss her and asking if it were OK for him to hug her.

During the defamation trial, Mr Craig admitted his relationship with Ms MacGregor had been "inappropriate" and "close and affectionate", but that the sexual harassment complaint had come as a "bolt out of the blue".

The court heard from Mr Craig himself that he had breached the confidentiality agreement 12 times, but he also alleged that she had quit four days after he rejected a sexual advance from her.

COLIN CRAIG RESPONDS

Mr Craig, responding to the release of the ruling, said he respected the decision, but believed there were mitigating factors to his breaching of the confidentiality agreement.

"Either I stayed silent, no matter what people said about me and watched as my silence was interpreted as guilt, or I broke my confidentiality agreement with Rachel MacGregor in the course of defending myself," he said in a statement.

"I accepted that I was in breach of my confidentiality obligations both publicly and when the breach was considered by the HRRT.

"However, I thought there were very strong mitigating circumstances.

"I am pleased that the High Court has ruled in its recent decision that I was entitled to respond to the attack (which is the basic right to defend yourself), but I am disappointed that in its decision the HRRT was so critical of me given the extreme and inexplicable circumstances I found myself in.

"However I respect the differing areas of jurisdiction and I did not appeal the HRRT's decision."

Mr Craig added that the confidentiality agreement was still in place and he could not comment further on the matters between himself and Ms MacGregor.