Colin Craig claims victory in Cameron Slater defamation case, considers appeal anyway


Despite claiming a victory in his legal battle with blogger Cameron Slater, former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig isn't ruling out appealing the decision.

Justice Toogood delivered his 250-page decision on Thursday, finding Mr Slater - the operator of the Whale Oil blog - did defame Mr Craig, but that most of the damage to Mr Craig's reputation "resulted almost entirely from his own actions", so no damages were awarded.

Mr Slater's countersuit - that Mr Craig defamed him in a press conference and a booklet distributed to 1.6 million households - didn't succeed, with the judge saying Mr Craig's untrue statements in the booklet were made under qualified privilege to respond to Mr Slater's allegations.

In the ruling, Justice Toogood said Mr Craig was "guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment" against then-press secretary Rachel MacGregor.

Mr Craig told RadioLIVE he was "pleased because I won", but was "somewhat perplexed" by the judge's findings he sexually harassed Ms MacGregor.

"If you write someone a letter and they write back saying 'wonderful'¦ I think that's a signal that's being welcomed," he told host Mark Sainsbury.

Mr Slater, interviewed by Sainsbury just before Mr Craig, called the ruling a "technical draw" despite the loss on paper.

"I got some things wrong - even though I did good research on them - but I got some things wrong. He's told me off for that. But he said Mr Craig has so fatally damaged his own reputation through his own actions that he doesn't deserve any damages."

He said it was "bizarre" the judge acknowledged some of what Mr Craig wrote in his widely-distributed brochure was untrue, but gave him "an out by saying that he was… allowed to send a brochure to 1.6 million households in retribution for me telling the truth about him".

"I don't think it was bizarre," responded Mr Craig. "The judge clearly said he worked together with two other people to attack me and try and remove me as the leader of a political party. That's now a finding. That is what happened. I was entitled to respond, and did so. That's why Cameron didn't succeed. There's no mystery, it's no bizarre, it's pretty obvious."

Both Mr Craig and Mr Slater were seeking monetary damages from the other. Neither got anything.

"I must say I disagree on that," said Mr Craig. "I think [Justice Toogood] got the law not quite right there."

Mr Craig is still involved in legal disputes with Ms MacGregor and Taxpayers' Union founder Jordan Williams. Mr Williams was originally awarded $1.27 million in damages in his own defamation case against Mr Craig, but that was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Craig is considering appealing the latest ruling.

"When you do win a case, sometimes leaving it alone is the best thing," said Mr Craig.

"He should just give up," said Mr Slater. "He appeals everything. He isn't winning on anything."



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