Colin Craig grilled over 'Mr X'
Jordan Williams' lawyer has gone on the attack in cross-examining Colin Craig, at the defamation trial against the former Conservative Party leader.
Peter McKnight questioned Mr Craig in depth on Monday morning about his decision to use the literary device 'Mr X' in pamphlets he sent to hundreds of thousands of households last year.
Mr Williams took the defamation case against Mr Craig after the latter called him a liar for spreading "false allegations" about him to other members of the Conservative Party, particularly regarding his behaviour around former press secretary Rachel MacGregor.
On Monday, Mr Craig told the jury 'Mr X'was a nom de plume in his Dirty Politics leaflet at the centre of the defamation trial.
But Mr McKnight suggested that was dishonest.
"I guess some people would see the use of a nom de plume as dishonest, but I don't," Mr Craig replied.
At one point he reproduced what he called the view of political strategist Simon Lusk, who figured in the Nicky Hager Dirty Politics book as Mr X, but said he didn't agree with his view.
"You don't agree with that view and yet you publish it. That's reckless," Mr Knight suggested.
"It's not reckless at all," replied Mr Craig.
"What's the factual foundation? I'm asking the factual basis for these opinions. You know the law of defamation," Mr McKnight said.
"It's a viewpoint," replied Mr Craig. "I was setting it out as an opinion."
But Mr McKnight put it to Mr Craig that much of the Dirty Politics leaflet did not refer to the plaintiff, Mr Williams.
"As I explained in my brief, he started the snowball rolling," said Mr Craig.
"He supplied (former Conservative Party board member John) Stringer and (blogger) Cameron Slater with the initial allegations and helped Slater write them."
"His role was minimal?" asked Mr McKnight.
"Certainly more minimal than the other two, it was a lesser role," said Mr Craig.
"He doesn't have a blog site, but the other two did."
Because some of the pamphlet is written as an interview with Mr X, Mr McKnight picked through each statement to work out whose view was represented.
But Mr Craig has been unable to recall whose opinions he was representing for some of Mr X's statements.
At one point Mr X described Slater as an evil genius. Mr McKnight suggested that was a horrible phrase.
Mr Craig referred to one of the allegations he had made about his family.
"To go down that route and make false allegations because it involves children and innocent people, I would use the phrase 'evil'."