Norman to defend Craig comments

Russel Norman
Russel Norman
The Green Party's lawyer says co-leader Russel Norman will "vigorously defend" comments made about Conservatives leader Colin Craig, who is threatening defamation action.

Mr Craig said Dr Norman had until Friday at 5pm to issue a public apology and retraction for statements he made at the Big Gay Out in Auckland.

During his speech, the Greens co-leader said Mr Craig "thinks a woman's place is in the kitchen and a gay man's place is in the closet".

The Greens released a letter this afternoon from barrister Steven Price - who is representing Dr Norman - to Mr Craig's lawyers.

Mr Price said Dr Norman's comments were metaphorical and were not meant to be taken literally.

"They were colourful political rhetoric, delivered to a crowd with a particular interest in diversity issues."

Mr Craig said the comments were taken to mean that he held sexist, derogatory and offensive views about women and gay men.

Mr Price said they should be interpreted as a "colloquial suggestion" that the Conservative leader's attitudes to women and gay people were outdated and disrespectful.

The letter cited previous comments by Mr Craig, including his assertions that gay relationships were "not normal" and that Prime Minister John Key was "too gay" for his Helensville electorate.

The Greens' lawyer said Mr Craig had failed to understand that the legal threshold was higher for defaming a politician.

He said if Mr Craig wished to pursue the matter further, he should preserve any evidence of comments made about women or gay people, including emails, that could be relevant in the discovery phase.

Mr Craig, a millionaire property manager, has sought and received retractions and apologies from media organisations, individuals and a satirical news website for comments made about him.

By Isaac Davison of the NZ Herald

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