The Herald reports:
Colin Craig has admitted that some of his interactions with former press secretary Rachael MacGregor were “inappropriate”, but rejects accusations of sexual harassment.
Mr Craig also said today that he had forgiven a $20,000 loan to Ms MacGregor, but that this was unrelated to her controversial resignation from the party immediately before the election.
Mr Craig made the comments at a press conference alongside his wife Helen, who said she backed her husband.
Whenever a politician has a press conference involving himself and other women, I feel so sorry for the wife who not just has to deal with it, but then becomes a prop at a press conference.
Mr Craig said that in hindsight, some of his and Ms MacGregor’s actions may have been “inappropriate”. But he strongly rejected claims that he had sexually harassed the former staff member.
Mr Craig would not confirm whether he had penned a poem sent to Ms Macgregor, saying he would not go into any detail about his actions.
Mr Craig confirmed he had agreed to pay Ms MacGregor $16,000 for work she had done for the party, following her surprise resignation two days before the September election.
He also agreed to lend her $20,000 to cover outstanding credit card bills.
When Ms MacGregor was unable to pay this money back, he and his wife agreed to forgive the loan.
Mr Craig said this payment had nothing to do with allegations of inappropriate conduct between him and his former press secretary.
The question is would you lend $20,000 and write it off to any other former staffer?
It would be highly surprising to see Craig resume the leadership of the Conservatives after this. Also be surprising to see them remain a viable force – however they do have at least one other wealthy donor who can keep them alive. However they need a leader who can front a national campaign, and there seems no one apparent.
UPDATE: Rachel McGregor has put out a statement, which according to media on Twitter says:
- Colin Craig’s breached a confidentiality agreement reached in mediation with the Human Rights Commission.
- She’s checked with her lawyer, and is still bound by it herself. “I am therefore unable to correct the clear factual inaccuracies”.
- MacGregor says she wants to correct Craig’s “factual inaccuracies”, but wants an assurance he won’t take legal action against her.
- MacGregor says she’s also happy to brief Conservative Party board on what happened, but again, needs permission from Colin Craig
- MacGregor says until she gets confidentiality agreement lifted, she’s got no further comment.
If I were Colin Craig, I’d not try to regain the Conservative Party leadership. There is no way he will come out this well.