Craig could be in 'legal trouble' over confidentiality agreement

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Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has spoken out about the confidentiality agreement that currently conceals details of his relationship with his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Craig admitted that the entire situation currently remained “covered by confidentiality”, and that he had disclosed “more details than… Miss MacGregor will be happy with”.

However, he later told Radio New Zealand that both parties’ lawyers were in talks about lifting the confidentiality agreement, and that his former employee had agreed that the confidentiality could be lifted.

During the press conference, Craig claimed that the confidentiality agreement had not been the outcome of an extramarital affair, but the consequence of a $20,000 personal loan.

“The difficulty here is that because of media speculation we've had to come back and address these issues publicly,” he told Radio NZ.

However, MacGregor has since made her own statement, claiming that Craig had made “clear factual inaccuracies” during his press address.

Confidentiality agreements – the legalities

HRM spoke to Blair Scotland, partner at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, about Craig’s case.

“It appears that they entered into a confidentiality agreement through the Human Rights Commission,” Scotland told HRM. “When going through the Commission, you can resolve a dispute in a number of different ways.”

He added that the likelihood is, in this case, that the Commission would have recorded how the dispute was resolved in writing.

“Depending on which jurisdiction you’re in, there are particular legislations and legal requirements around the things you can do,” Scotland said. “In employment related disputes, a mediator and all involved parties would sign off on the settlement agreement – this then can’t be challenged.”

If one party breaches that settlement, they can be subject to a penalty of up to $20,000 for a company or $10,000 for an individual. Where a settlement was reached in the Human Rights Commission, you can seek to enforce those consequences.

“This would be done by running the alleged breach before the courts to obtain an order that a term of the settlement has been violated,” Scotland said. “Damages can potentially be sought for a breach of those terms.

“Generally speaking, if you enter freely into an agreement to settle a matter on terms that are agreed to by both parties, then one party breaches those, they can expect legal consequences to flow. [Craig] could find himself in some legal trouble.”

However, it all comes down to mutual agreements.

“If, as he’s indicated, both parties chose to waive the confidentiality terms, then it does take both parties’ agreement to vary the terms of the deal they’ve previously entered into,” Scotland said.

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