This is so ridiculous that I thought the letter may itself be a parody, but it appears to be genuine.
The Civilian did a satirical piece on 22 April where they said:
Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson is acknowledging that he looks pretty stupid this morning after a series of floods in the Nelson, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions appeared to contradict his assertion that nothing bad would come of the passing of gay marriage legislation. …
Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig was among the first to point out the National MP’s mistake.
“Williamson likes to talk about big gay rainbows,” said Craig, “but it would help if he understood what the rainbow actually means. After Noah’s flood, God painted a giant rainbow across the sky, which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry. And we have.”
Prime Minister John Key has reportedly reprimanded Mr. Williamson for being “a big idiot” and is considering removing some of his ministerial portfolios. Mr. Williamson has said that he would accept that, but was surprised to learn he had portfolios.
The bolded paragraph caused Colin Craig to launch defamation proceedings as he thought people may think he really said the words in the article. No, seriously.
The letter from Colin Craig’s lawyers say:
We are instructed that Colin Craig never made the Statement. It is a fiction created by you to make him look ridiculous and the use of quotation marks is designed to give it the appearance of fact. The Statement cannot be dismissed as satire in the circumstances, particularly when it is published alongside quotes from Maurice Williamson which we understand may largely be accurate.
The Civilian makes everyone look ridiculous. It is a satire site. Only a moron would think Colin Craig really said those words.
The chance of a defamation law suit winning would be as close to zero as you can get. But the problem is defending such a lawsuit could cost you up to $100,000. And Mr Craig is a multi-millionaire. And Ben Uffindell is a just newly graduated student.
Colin Craig also tries to get some money out of Uffindell:
Mr Craig also seeks a contribution of $500 towards his legal costs and reserves all of his rights in respect of this matter.
It is a very sad day for democracy in New Zealand when an extremely wealthy political leader threatens an obviously satirical website for defamation, because they took the piss out of him.
The response from The Civilian is great, and is here.
And Danyl McLauchlan publishes a previously unknown interview with Colin Craig.