Colin Craig takes 'Dirty Politics Brigade' to court
Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has launched legal action against the "Dirty Politics Brigade" for defamation and will be seeking damages.
Mr Craig held a press conference in Auckland this afternoon, saying he is taking Taxpayers Union's Jordan Williams, Conservative Party member John Stringer and Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to court over a "coordinated attack" on him.
He produced a booklet of "defamatory lies" he says have been used in a smear campaign against him.
He is seeking $300,000 from Mr Williams, $600,000 from Mr Stringer and $650,000 from Mr Slater – figures which have been "calculated by lawyers".
For many of the three, Mr Craig says today will be the first they've heard of the legal action.
"Today is a good day, because this is the day we start to fight back against the 'Dirty Politics Brigade' who have been running a defamatory strategy against me," Mr Craig said.
"It does not serve this country well to have a group of people who influence public opinion through a web of deceit and manipulation."
One of the claims was of sending sexually explicit messages, which Mr Craig denied ever doing.
Mr Craig's wife Helen, who spoke at the last press conference her husband held, said she was surprised people criticised her for speaking out.
"We have good women in this country and a good woman knows to stand with her man when he is under attack," she said.
In June Mr Craig became embroiled in controversy after allegations of inappropriate conduct with former press secretary Rachel MacGregor came to light.
Mr Craig resigned from his leadership role not long after, allowing for a full leadership review to take place. He has, however, remained an active member of the party
Since then a 3 News/ Reid Research poll has shown the Conservative Party has dropped to its lowest rating since it was founded in 2011- with just 0.7 percent.
This was a 1.2 percent drop from the previous poll, and 3.4 percent drop from the party's election result of 4.1 percent.
Facing media last month, Mr Craig denied he had written love poems and touched Ms MacGregor inappropriately, but wouldn’t go into specifics of allegations.
He did however admit to "inappropriate conduct".
"No question that I made a mistake, no question that I had to apologise to one person for that and a lot of others already," he said.
Despite a complaint to the Human Rights Commission and a confidentiality agreement, Mr Craig also revealed details of an invoicing dispute in which Ms MacGregor said she was owed $50,000.
Mr Craig said he had paid Ms MacGregor $20,000 in advance to pay off her credit card as a loan, and had settled with a further $16,000. Mr Craig said he and his wife had decided to wipe the loan, on "compassionate grounds."
Ms MacGregor cited there were factual inaccuracies with what was said, and offered to tell the Conservative Party board the truth about what had happened with Mr Craig's consent.