Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has threatened a satirical news website with defamation after claiming it published a story designed "to make him look ridiculous".
The Civilian yesterday uploaded a story about Maurice Williamson's "big gay rainbow" speech, in which the Pakuranga MP admitted "he looks pretty stupid this morning after a series of floods in the Nelson, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions appeared to contradict his assertion that nothing bad would come of the passing of gay marriage legislation".
It also featured fake quotes from Mr Craig, having him say “God painted a giant rainbow across the sky, which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry. And we have."
Mr Craig hasn't seen the funny side however, and today through his lawyers at Chapman Tripp threatened editor Ben Uffindell with defamation unless he removed the quote, posted a retraction and paid him – a millionaire businessman – $500 for his legal troubles.
"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 letter reads.
In a post on Facebook, The Civilian acknowledged the "inaccuracy" and said they have taken steps to remedy the problem by "re-featuring the article at the top of our front page" with the retraction.
"We would like to note that we have also taken the additional measure of bolding the statement in question so that everybody knows which thing it was that Mr Craig did not say," The Civilian notes.
The Civilian, which has more than 6000 "likes" on Facebook, has published other satirical stories about New Zealand politicians, including "John Banks can’t wait to get gay married" and "Government to sell Peter Dunne".
This evening Mr Uffindell posted a message on The Civilian, which he said was his official email response to Chapman Tripp and Mr Craig.
In it, Mr Uffindel said he would "dream of making Mr. Craig look ridiculous. Indeed, we’re quite content to leave that up to him."
Mr Uffindell also said he hoped Mr Craig would take action on behalf of other politicians the site had "misquoted", including David Shearer and Russel Norman.
"We also hope you will seek legal action against us with regards to [an] opinion piece, which we erroneously claimed was written by Jim Hickey."
It is believed this is the first time the site has been issued with a legal notice.