Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has set his lawyers
on Green co-leader Russel Norman, demanding an apology and
retraction of comments Dr Norman made at the Big Gay Out.
Mr Craig has asked Dr Norman for a public apology, claiming
the statements were defamatory.
Mr Craig said he had taken the step of getting his lawyers to
assess the claim and seek a retraction and apology because he
believed the comments were inaccurate and were widely
He said Dr Norman's comments did not reflect his views.
"So I find it quite an offensive statement to think I might
think these things, and certainly to publicise that
nationally has gone too far.''
A letter from Chapman Tripp "invites'' Dr Norman to issue a
retraction of the statements.
"Neither the context of an election year nor the occasion of
the Big Gay Out provide you with a licence to say anything
you like about Mr Craig ... They are also defamatory as it
harms [Craig's] reputation to say he holds such sexist,
derogatory and offensive views ...''
Dr Norman is yet to make a public statement about the letter,
but is expected to do so this afternoon.
Mr Craig said he was aware different rules applied to
politicians under the Defamation Act and it was an election
year, but said Mr Norman had couched his comments as
statements of fact rather than opinion.
He said if Dr Norman refused to apologise, he would consider
taking it further including going to court.
"Our assessment is that it does cross the line. We set that
standard that says things politicians say need to be more
accurate, or express an opinion. It's a reasonably polite
request, I think, and all we've asked for is a retraction and
Mr Craig is renowned for calling in his lawyers over comments
made about him - satirist Ben Uffindel was a previous target
after a blog post written about Mr Craig.
Mr Craig said he had so far sent about six letters relating
to defamatory statements and about two complaints to the
Broadcasting Standards Authority. He said he had received
apologies for each of them.
In December, TVNZ was required by the Broadcasting Standards
Authority to issue an on air apology for an item on Seven
Sharp about him.