Rachel MacGregor awarded $400K after Colin Craig defamed her

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Rachel MacGregor has been awarded $400,000 in damages by the High Court after she was defamed by former employer, one-time Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

By Sarah Robson for rnz.co.nz

The judgement is the latest chapter in a years-long legal saga over the fallout from the 2014 election campaign when MacGregor suddenly resigned just days before voters went to the polls.

Craig sued his former press secretary for defamation and MacGregor counter-sued.

The case went to court in 2018.

Justice Hinton found both parties defamed each other in certain respects — and that MacGregor had been sexually harassed by Craig.

More than two years later, Justice Hinton has ordered Craig to pay damages.

Justice Hinton had found that Craig defamed MacGregor on four separate occasions: at two media conferences in 2015, in a letter to Conservative Party members and in a booklet that was sent to 1.6 million households.

In today's judgement, Justice Hinton said Craig "deliberately misled the media by presenting factually inaccurate information in a way which impugned Ms MacGregor".

She said an aggravating feature of the case was that Craig responded to allegations made by others, "by drawing Ms MacGregor further into the controversy and presenting himself as a victim when, although there had been no finding or concession made, it must have been abundantly clear even to him that the reverse applied.

"There can be no doubt Mr Craig did so deliberately."

Craig withdrew his claim for damages on the first day of the court hearing in 2019.