The leader of New Zealand’s Conservative Party has taken offence at a satirical news story written about himself, and another MP, who made a now famous speech around equal marriage, and has threatened legal action.
Colin Craig, founding leader of the minority party, took offence at the story by thecivillian.co.nz, which quoted him to have said that floods in the Nelson and Waikato region had been the result of the New Zealand parliament passing equal marriage last week.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Craig, wrote to the website, demanding a retraction, NZD$500 (£270) in legal costs, and an apology, reports Yahoo.
The article quoted Mr Craig to have said New Zealand had angered God through legalising equal marriage, and had sent floods.
“We are instructed that Colin Craig never made the statement. It is a fiction created by you to make him look ridiculous and the use of quotation marks is designed to give it the appearance of fact,” the letter from Craig’s lawyer, John Mckay said.
“The statement cannot be dismissed as satire in the circumstances, particularly when it is published alongside quotes from Maurice Williamson which we understand may largely be accurate.”
The article also quoted Maurice Williamson, who made a pro-equal marriage speech following the parliamentary vote to legalise equal marriage last week.
“It was a bit of a silly thing to say, in retrospect,” said Williamson before getting into a car this morning. “Of course rain is a bad thing,” The Civilian’s article, published on Monday, quoted him to have said.
The Civillian has been compared to the US website The Onion, as both sites publish satirical articles, which are at times provocative.
The Civilian’s editor Ben Uffindell on Tuesday published the letter from McKay.
Maurice Williamson, made a speech in parliament following its third and final reading for the bill to allow equal marriage, which passed by 77 votes to 44. It was hailed by Gawker as ”a speech for the ages”, and quickly went viral on social media and other sites.
During the speech, he said: ”I had a Catholic priest tell me I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.”
Craig, a millionaire, has previously made defamation claims about other satirical pieces about him.