A recent ruling on costs in the high profile defamation case, Craig v Slater is informative as it shows how the Judiciary views unidentified psychiatric issues. Essentially the Judge noted the consequences of psychiatric conditions, without adjudicating on the root cause . . . undertaking the judicial role, not the medical or psychiatric diagnosis. This narrow view shows how “the law” is a poor substitute for “the Law” (i.e. the Truth) [capitalisation intended] and why it’s a happy day when justice and the law coincide.
I reported on a high profile scrap between businessman (and ‘wannabe’ politician) Colin Craig who sued blogger Cameron Slater for defamation previously. I shared my take on the courtroom antics at the time reporting from personal experience and focusing on the unique human relationship aspects of what I observed.
I suggested that the whole thing should be called off . . . it wasn’t. The Judge ruled mostly in Cameron’s favour, but Colin escaped a large penalty, the Judge basically saying that he got what he deserved.
In the process of sharing my thoughts, I suggested that Colin Craig suffered with something like Asperger’s Syndrome, and that Cameron Slater’s fearless, black & white personality invited trouble.
Quotes from the recent ruling on costs show how the Judge saw this uniqueness.
Self Justification Comes Easily
 In the Human Rights Act settlement and in evidence, Mr Craig conceded that aspects of his conduct over the period Ms MacGregor worked with him were inappropriate. But I am prepared to accept that it is probable that, up to the time of the delivery of the Court’s judgment, Mr Craig did not believe that he was guilty of sexual harassment. I need to explain why.
 Mr Craig appeared in person to argue a number of pre-trial issues before me and he addressed me at length (though not unnecessarily) on the issues in opening and closing his case. I watched him give evidence in chief and under cross-examination over several days and I heard Ms MacGregor’s evidence about his behaviour over the three years she worked with him. I had ample opportunity, therefore, to assess Mr Craig’s personality. He is plainly intelligent and articulate. There is no doubt, either, that he was highly ambitious politically and that he was single-minded in his approach to achieving his political aspirations. Although Mr Craig professed to be interested only in Ms MacGregor’s wellbeing, he did not act accordingly. The heavy demands he placed on Ms MacGregor during the 2014 election campaign demonstrated that he lacked real empathy for her. I assessed Mr Craig as being a man who is extremely confident in his opinions, self-absorbed, lacking self-awareness and insight and, to a degree, hypocritical. Self-justification appears to come easily to him.
Single-minded . . . lack of empathy . . . extremely confident . . . self-absorbed . . . lacking self-awareness & insight . . . hypocritical . . . easy self-justification.
What a list! All hugely indicative of psychiatric issues akin to ‘High Functioning’ Asperger’s Syndrome. For people who have knowledge or understanding of these kinds of psychiatric conditions, this list is a red alert, almost slam dunk.
It is interesting that with such labels the norm would be to write off such people as ‘nasty’ or ‘bad’, yet temptation to this line of thought shows little understanding of the real person, who can often be generous, kind and good to others, in their own way, despite their uniqueness.
The Judge continues . . .
 That may go some way to explaining why, although Mr Craig acknowledged to Ms MacGregor on several occasions that it would be inappropriate for him to act on the sexual and romantic feelings he harboured for her, he continued to mislead the Conservative Party board and the public about his feelings and the true nature of Ms MacGregor’s allegations against him. Mr Craig was a married man and the leader of a political party that endorsed traditional Christian values. He is also politically aware. I do not doubt that he knew that evidence of his apparent sexual and romantic interest in one of his employees would be professionally and politically damaging if it became known to his colleagues in the Conservative Party or reached the public domain. But that does not mean that Mr Craig knew he sexually harassed Ms MacGregor.
 I held in the judgment that Mr Craig went so far as to manufacture evidence designed to support his position, in responding to Ms MacGregor’s claims under the Human Rights Act, and to mislead the Court rather than to acknowledge to others that he had behaved badly. Ms MacGregor complained that Mr Craig deliberately manipulated and exploited her in terms of his demands for her time and effort in his re-election campaign and I held that his behaviour placed her under pressure and caused distress. I do not think it follows, however, that Mr Craig knew his conduct towards Ms MacGregor had reached the level of sexual harassment.
This is the judge defining what Colin Craig knew, in which he exonerated Craig from willful deception in regards to Cameron Slater’s claim that Colin Craig was covering up a known sexual crime.
This was the part that Slater got wrong. Cameron’s black & white, “Reds under the bed” thinking (a lot based upon Madeline Flannagan’s private words to him) set him up for his fall. If Slater had understood Craig’s psychiatric condition and how that was triggered then he wouldn’t have written what he did (the defamation); Colin Craig wouldn’t have done what he did (publish 1.6million booklets) and there wouldn’t have been an expensive court case.
Also, as a matter of completeness I’d add that if Madeline had been a little more open and honest in her feeding of information to her long-time confidant Slater, maybe Cameron wouldn’t have walked into the trap too!
The thing with people like Colin Craig (and to some extent me too) is that we live by principle. If somebody lies to our disadvantage, or attempted disadvantage we will naturally respond in kind regardless of the cost – the cost to us and often the cost to others. In this case the judge has been astute to determine that Colin Craig’s conduct is unusual (best described as self-centered if not selfish) but that it stops short of deliberate dishonesty. Yes, he can and did fabricate evidence to support his case because he feared damaging negative press. No, he did not intend to hide his “sexual abuse” conduct which he genuinely saw as simply “inappropriate” and potentially politically damaging. Thus the crazy persistence (to the point of fetish and perhaps insanity) to proceed with court action regardless of the costs.
 It is significant that Mr Craig’s initial advances and indications that he was romantically interested in Ms MacGregor were not rebuffed. Over a relatively short period after Ms MacGregor joined Mr Craig’s campaign team in August 2011, they developed a close relationship which culminated in physical intimacy on the November election night. I rejected Ms MacGregor’s evidence that she felt scared and awful immediately after the incident and that it marked the point at which she lost faith and trust in Mr Craig.
Woaah! That’s a big call. I wouldn’t have, but hey, he’s the judge, not me!
The positive communications Mr Craig received from Ms MacGregor in November and December 2011 laid something of a foundation for his ongoing perception of their relationship; it endured even when she ceased responding in that way …
And this is perfectly in sync with Asperger’s. Once something is learned, this reality remains (often permanently) for the afflicted person. Because the nuances of social interaction are missed, changes such as feelings up or feelings down are confusing. When their reality is threatened with changing circumstances (such as in the case of Ms MacGregor’s feelings, or emotional response and Colin Craig), they will often defend their take on reality despite what to us is common sense.
This defensiveness is akin to the awakening that occurs when we realise that Santa (or the tooth fairy) isn’t real and that our parents have lied; or that the Media or government routinely misrepresent reality; or that the advertisement was designed to sell something and not to value truth; or that the official story of 9-11 and men in caves with box cutters; or that the Holocaust . . . you get the picture!
Emotional matters can be hugely indeed impossibly confusing for people like Colin Craig who have to learn emotional reality from indirect clues rather than from our natural “sixth sense”. That’s because they either don’t have it or it is limited. Weird, I know, but when you understand this, then you can get on with life and deal with it constructively.
Note now as the judge continues to explain this all in a non-psychiatric way, describing what is the normal life for those around sufferers.
 Although it may have been apparent to an objective observer, therefore, that Ms MacGregor never entertained the notion of rekindling the romantic aspects of her relationship with Mr Craig, it is apparent to me that Mr Craig was so absorbed with his own views that he did not recognise this. Even when cross-examining Ms MacGregor on these matters, and receiving negative responses, he clung to the notion of a mutual attraction and emotional closeness – a special relationship – between himself and Ms MacGregor, thwarted by circumstances that required them to keep their relationship professional. I am satisfied that, at least until part of the way through the 2014 election campaign, when Ms MacGregor began to complain about the way Mr Craig was treating her, Mr Craig failed to appreciate that any resumption of romantic intimacy was an entirely unwelcome prospect for her. That is likely to have been contributed to by Ms MacGregor’s belief that she could not admonish Mr Craig because she was bound to a working relationship with him by career and financial considerations. The aspects of Mr Craig’s personality I have described above played a key role in maintaining his delusion…
 These comments are relevant to my assessment of Mr Craig’s motives in bringing the proceeding. I also described Mr Craig as “a man who was not only singleminded but also extremely confident in his own judgment and in the correctness of his views”. Although made in the context of outlining his political aspirations, that comment is equally applicable to Mr Craig’s self-focused perception of his relationship with Ms MacGregor.
The words “delusion” and “self-focused perception” are brutal but factual. Colin Craig will hurt from this description if he takes them to be a criticism. The reason is that Colin Craig likely did not see his “delusion” as stupidity and/or ill-will. He simply didn’t understand. Likewise with his caring for his staff. He did – in his own eyes – but he simply didn’t understand the consequences of his actions and leadership.
Thanks to this judge for reporting his observations so well. It’s a tough life working for, in and around those with psychiatric conditions on the Asperger’s/Autism scale. One has to give emotionally beyond the call of duty, and understanding is not easy when we live in a less than perfect world.
It helps hugely when a victim of these afflictions admits their problems because this then opens the door for scaffolding and support. Unfortunately human pride intervenes and particularly the rich and intelligent can make life bl**dy difficult for others around them. Cameron Slater paid a high price for his engagement.
Now in case you’re wondering whether I have Asperger’s Syndrome or some form of Autism because of what I do roughing up others like I do, the answer from a specialist psychiatric quack was, “No! I don’t have that kind of thing, but I just am a black and white guy who lives by principle and am thus most likely a real pain in the *rse to live with!”
That is unless you enjoy straight-shooting!
Thanks for swinging by today, and . . . get on with life, people!