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Craig asks lawyers to slap Norman with defamation suit

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is following through on his plans to slap Green Party leader Russel Norman with a defamation suit for comments he made at Big Gay Out and, now, statements made on TVNZ.

"Unfortunately Mr Norman has not seen fit to apologise for his comments against me at the Big Gay Out. His comments were provably untrue, and in my view defamatory," Mr Craig says in a just released statement.

Mr Craig set a deadline of 5 pm today. At 4:30 Dr Norman tweeted "I believe in a tolerant inclusive society w free speech. I will cont [sic] be intolerant of intolerance. No apology Craig."

Dr Norman did not return a call from NBR ONLINE seeking comment. Mr Craig only issued a statement.

Mr Craig says he today asked his lawyers to draft a statement of claim, and provide estimates on costs and timeframes for legal proceedings.

Breakfast TV comments could spark additional action
"I expect to have detailed responses on all the above from my legal team late next week," Mr Craig says. 

He’s also asked them to review comments Dr Norman made on the TVNZ Breakfast programme this week.

“Preliminary legal advice is that part of those comments may also be defamatory. Once this assessment is made they may be added to the claim," Mr Craig says.

According to the February 17 letter from his lawyers at Chapman Tripp, Mr Craig would likely sue Dr Norman under section 24 of the Defamation Act 1992, which relates to declarations.

Section 24 only calls for a declaration plus legal costs. A plaintiff can’t sue for damages under this section.

Stacey Shortall, a partner with Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, says Section 24 doesn’t make it easier to win a defamation claim. Plaintiffs still have to file the statement of claims and affidavits, defendants still have to respond and the hearing commences.

“It is an avenue in the act by people who may wish to vindicate themselves when they have taken a position they have been defamed,” Ms Shortall says. 

Dr Norman's lawyer Steven Price told NBR ONLINE he was unable to comment.

RAW DATA: Colin Craig's lawyer's letter to Russel Norman (PDF)425.83 KB

More by Stephanie Flores

Comments and questions

All the best Colin!

I hope you're able to rub the communists nose in the defamation and defecation he spouts.

Remember - a vote for tricky, CunningCV is a vote for Norman as Finance Minister!

Colin Craig has just buried his political aspirations - I doubt anyone will vote for him now bar a few loony in the religious righteous corner

Reminds me of a nerd at school who tells the teacher every time someone annoys them instead of dealing with the situation.

This defamation suit shows what a pussy this guy is. How on earth could he cope if he actually got into parliament - he would be a target every time he was in the debating chamber - and an easy one.

Not a smart move Colin and you have also cost National a potential partner

On the contrary - Colin is standing up to the school bully and hypocrite.

Good on you, Craig - all power to you.

Diddums to Colleen - sorry Colin

I agree. This will be an excellent and much needed lesson for the Greens and others of that ilk. You can say whatever you like about people or companies, but it must be the truth.

Goodness me Doctor, from your comments, you yourself should be facing a charge of malpractice.

Go ahead, waste your vote on Wussel if you must. Personally, I believe Colin Craig may well be the panacea this loony country actually needs...

couldn't agree more..

I will.

he at least seems to have a principle or two he will stand up for.

Wussel, wemember "Loose Lips sink ships/"

A plague on both their houses.

makes me yearn for the green party of old, principled, intelligent and robustly debating their point of with anyone who espouses a different set of values but always with the utmost respect, Rod and Jeanette left a void yet to be filled

In no way am I, or ever would be a Green voter, but I entirely agree with you. They were/are good people.

History has many examples of good people making lousy politicians

Agreed. I've never been a Greens voter, but at least the leadership of Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons had respect and integrity. This Norman wally has neither. Worse, he proposes destructive communist-type unworkable economic policies.

These defamation threats are only made by wannabe lawyers and wannabe school yard bullies that never had it in them. Colin Craig would be better off spending his money on psychiatric help for dealing with his inferiority issues. I hope he gets nailed for wasting precious court resources on massaging his ego.

There is an error in paragraph 3 of the letter. 'Woman' is used instead of 'Women'. How ironic.

If it's ok for Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson to bring a defamation suit against some guy for calling them "crooks" then how can we begrudge Colin his day in defamation Court too. In fact I'm surprised the manufacturers of kitchens and closets aren't suing Norman too.

I Like the subtle way Colin Craig deflated Russel Norman's self-importance by calling him "Mr Norman" instead of "Dr Norman" in his statement.

You have to laugh at the fragile egos of academics who insist on using their PhD qualification in their title to remind everyone that they must be intelligent because they went to University for 7-years some 20-years previous.

So this what MMP & NZ politics has bought us to. Pathetic!

I support Colin's right to have a court assess the validity of Mr Normans comments. Colin Craig is obviously a challenge to the Greens aspirations. I am pleased to see Craig investing in raising the standard. Politics in NZ is pretty shabby at times

It's ok when the Greens do it. Let someone call Norman a Communist, and there would be hell to pay.

Good on Colin Craig, the migrant should be held accountable for his untrue statements.
Wussel would be better off stacking shelves at countdown, rather than leading the "nasty party"

I agree it is about time we started debating the real issues with good research and knowledge of the subject matter which you Norman and your team seem unable to do.
If it had not been for your cheap point scoring no one would be wasting time with litigation. Craig, good on you for having a crack at the waste of time Greens but don't spend your life with your lawyers - it might be good for your ego when you get an apology however the only winners will be the legal team!

Excellent. We're fed up with bulling by ridicule and spreading disinformation.