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Title: Colin Craig: The Anti-Wilde? Credit: Craig Young Comment Sunday 2nd October 2016 - 1:04pm1475366640 Article: 18836 Rights
 
In 1895, Oscar Wilde tried to sue the Marquis of Queensbury, the antigay father of his lover "Bosie" for defaming him- but the trial boomeranged and ended up in Wilde's own conviction for 'gross indecency' (gay male non-anal sex). Colin Craig (Stuff.co.nz photo) In 2016, Colin Craig has been found guilty of defamation against the Taxpayers Union's Jordan Williams. The New Zealand Conservative Party leader may have reached the end of his political life. So much for the Conservative Party's intended 'reversal' of marriage equality, then. To do that, Colin Craig and his entourage would have had to get into Parliament first. This now seems highly implausible. On September 30, the jury returned after a one day deliberation period. They ruled Colin Craig guilty and said that he should pay Jordan Williams almost one and three-quarter million dollars for publishing and distributing a defamatory pamphlet, which alleged that Jordan Williams, centre-right blogger Cameron Slater and former Conservative Board member John Stringer were all acting in collusion against him. Unfortunately, Colin Craig's lawyers are set to challenge the verdict and the scale of damages that were awarded to Mr Williams. The sum is said to consist of $NZ 400,000 for immediate damages, with $NZ 900,000 for additional punitive damages. On a second charge, damages against Craig were awarded at $NZ 650,000 and additional punitive damages at $NZ 130,000. Not only was Colin Craig judged guilty of infringing Williams reputation, but he compounded his error through issuing the aforementioned pamphlet, Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas, in which he made specific, unsubstantiated accusations against Mr Williams. In the process of the trial, the truth about Colin Craig's relationship with former Conservative media manager Rachel McGregor, who quit shortly before the 2014 New Zealand General Election. While Garth McVicar, Bob McCoskrie, Laurence Day, Bev Adair-Betts, Angela Storr and Kevin Stitt all felt inclined to provide their former colleague with excuses, and Mary Craig forgave her husband for his antics, Christine Rankin, John Stringer, Jordan Williams himself, Rachel McGregor and Aaron Bhatnagar told what had happened on the prosecution side of the ledger. Apart from the questionable appearances of Nicky Hager and Martyn (Bomber) Bradbury from the left in Colin Craig's defence, the latter seems to have carried the day. As a rule, if defamatory messages utilise wide range distribution methods, like mass mail outs and Internet broadcast, then damages are likely to be heavy if the defendant cannot adequately defend herself or himself from these charges. While there was no immediate response from Craig's former Conservative Party colleagues, Jordan Williams had this to say: “These proceedings were never something I wanted. However, Mr Craig’s false accusations and public threats to sue me could not go unanswered.Of course I am pleased that a jury, having heard all of the evidence, and not just what the media have reported, have made such a finding.Thank you to all of those who have supported me over the last twelve months, particularly my family, friends, colleagues and the donors to the organisations I work for. The support from my legal team, Peter McKnight, Ali Romanos and John Langford, has been unfaltering from day one.” Does the Conservative Party have any future left whatsoever after Colin Craig's defamation debacle? It's just as well the National Party learnt from experience back in 2014 and didn't decide to adopt the Conservatives as a coalition partner, given this ignominious outcome. Almost without exception, the witnesses for the defence turned out to be Conservative Party officeholders or close allies like the Sensible Sentencing Trust or Family First. This does not bode well for an independent future for the Conservative Party, given the current conviction and the party's refusal to elect a new leader. What now? Are they going to wait for Colin Craig's appeal trial? What if the last of their membership walks away after this? And moreover, the Conservatives have gotten themselves into serious trouble with core New Zealand centre-right activists like Jordan Williams, Aaron Bhatnagar and Cameron Slater, effectively alienating their party's most logical coalition partner. Isn't it time that the Electoral Commission investigated the Conservatives to see whether their membership has fallen beneath the minimum level of five hundred members, as specified by the Electoral Act 1993? Moreover, by backing Colin Craig, Bob McCoskrie and Garth McVicar have shown amusing lapses of judgement, given this verdict, although to be fair, so have Nicky Hager and Martyn Bradbury. And unfortunately, it's not going to end here, either. As a property development millionaire, Craig can probably afford the two million dollars defamation damages that he has been burdened with after losing this defamation case. However, he now seems to be intent on appealing the case to the Court of Appeal, and Jordan Williams is pursuing him for still more damages. Moreover, Craig still has to encounter defamation proceedings brought by former Conservative board member John Stringer and centre-right blogger Cameron Slater, which will increase his defamation debt burden further if both or even one such lawsuit is successful. Moreover, apart from McCoskrie, who thinks that this is all a 'personal vendetta' against Colin Craig, the rest of the New Zealand Christian Right cannot be happy that Craig refuses to face the fact that his political ambitions are shipwrecked and that his personality and lawsuits are distracting attention and resources away from their battle against the End of Life Choices Bill for euthanasia law reform. Colin Craig has no credible future political career left after this verdict, and if the Conservative Party management council weren't blind members of a charismatic personality cult centred on their former leader, they would accept this and end the existence of their forelorn vanity vehicle. Perhaps the matter will be taken out of their hands by terminal membership loss and the final extinction of the Conservative brand altogether. It's time for the Christian Right to accept the truth. Seperatist conservative Christian political parties have no future in New Zealand and were never viable in the first place. This may be the moment that the New Zealand Christian Right was reduced to Family First, Right to Life New Zealand and the anti-euthanasia movement. Recommended: Brook Bath and Kelly Bennett: "Colin Craig ruled to have defamed Jordan Williams" Stuff.co.nz: 30.09.2016: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/84790345/colin-craig-jury-returns-in-defamation-case Craig Young - 2nd October 2016    
 
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