Colin Craig: Booklet, legal action not about me
Colin Craig, former and hopeful future leader of the Conservative Party, says his new threats of legal action have nothing to do with saving his political career.
Instead, he wants to hold what he's calling the "dirty politics brigade" to account so New Zealand can have a "free and fair political process".
No papers have been filed yet, but this morning on the Paul Henry programme Mr Craig said Jordan Williams, Cameron Slater and John Stringer should expect to be served before the of the week.
"If this was just about me, it wouldn't be worth doing. But it's not," says Mr Craig, who is seeking more than $1.5 million in damages.
"It's about a group of people who have carried on in a particular way. They've done it before, they've attacked other public figures in this country, and it's not fair play and New Zealanders don't like it. That's why Nicky Hager's book got so much publicity."
Borrowing the title of Hager's controversial book that dominated last year's election campaign, Mr Craig's booklet Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas claims he's been the victim of a "coordinated attack".
"It does not serve this country well to have a group of people who influence public opinion through a web of deceit and manipulation," he said at the booklet's launch yesterday afternoon.
In it, he claims Mr Williams – executive director of the right-wing Taxpayers' Union lobby group, featured heavily in Hager's book and allegedly romantically involved with Mr Craig's former press secretary Rachel MacGregor – compiled an "attack dossier" of lies. Mr Williams, in conjunction with Slater – who runs the Whale Oil blog – then used that dossier to ensure "there would be a media agenda at work" against Mr Craig.
Mr Craig also alleges Mr Williams had secret meetings with Conservative Party board members where he would "attack Craig's character, undermining support for him", while Mr Stringer – then a member of the party's board – fed information to Slater, with the aim of undermining support for Mr Craig.
Mr Stringer says none of it is true.
"Never met Cameron Slater, I've never met Jordan Williams. I'm not a part of any conspiracy to undermine Colin Craig," he told RadioLIVE this morning. "He's just trying to portray himself as a victim. He's not a victim at all."
For his efforts, Mr Stringer is referred to in Mr Craig's booklet as "Judas".
"Someone else's wording," Mr Craig insists.
The booklet also contains excerpts from emails allegedly between Slater and Mr Stringer. Mr Craig is adamant they were obtained and published legally, and that no one's email was hacked.
"I don't believe we've incorrectly or inappropriately published anything. All of those have come legitimately through legal means into our hands."
Mr Craig's image takes up most of the cover, and he is named 107 times in its 12 pages. But he says it's not about him or resurrecting his political career.
"Personally, I'm in a process at the moment where we're consulting with members and supporters about what my future is in New Zealand politics. That's on a different track. This is about whether we have a free and fair political process.
"I'm not the first person who's been attacked. I would like to think I would be the last, because I don't think New Zealanders support this sort of thing that's been going on."
Mr Craig says the booklet, which contains nearly 3000 words, is only the "tip of the iceberg".