27 Mar 2012

MPs say teapot tape inquiry waste of time and money

3:00 pm on 27 March 2012

Opposition MPs say a police investigation into the so-called teapot tape was a waste of time and money.

Prime Minister John Key complained to police during last year's election campaign, about the secret taping of a conversation he had with ACT candidate John Banks at a cafe in the Epsom electorate on 11 November last year.

The meeting was widely seen as Mr Key endorsing Mr Banks in the electorate, which Mr Banks went on to win.

Their conversation was recorded on a recording device in a small bag left by freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose on the cafe table.


On Monday, police announced that, though the recording was unlawful, it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

The Prime Minister has welcomed the police's decision and a letter from Mr Ambrose to Mr Key and Mr Banks. In it, the cameraman said he regretted passing the cafe recording on to a newspaper.

Mr Banks accepts Mr Ambrose's letter and says it is time to move on now that police have made a decision.

"This is not about being vengeful; this is about unlawful behaviour by an individual that clearly now understands that what he did was wrong. He seeks to move on - and I support that."


New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says police were just humouring John Key with their four-month-long investigation and it is convenient for Mr Key that he was at a summit in South Korea when the decision was released.

Mr Peters believes the matter should never have been investigated in the first place.

"It begs the question as to why unlawful actions are not in the public interest to be prosecuted.

"The second thing is, it's awfully convenient that (the police) are making this decision when the Prime Minister's absent from the country and has let if be known within the last 24 hours before they made this announcement ... that he would not be concerned if charges were not laid."

Just a stunt, says Labour

The Labour Party says the conversation was never private and the whole thing has been a political stunt from start to finish. Leader David Shearer says the issue should have been resolved four months ago.

"Mr Ambrose has written this letter. The police have used that as an excuse to drop the case, when they knew that the case should have been dropped all along.

"And Mr Key conveniently goes overseas at exactly the same time as this becomes public. So the whole thing is a stunt which should have actually never occurred."

The Media Freedom Committee says the outcome is unsatisfactory and untidy.

Chairperson Tim Murphy says nothing has been resolved and questions still hang over matter, including why a police complaint was deemed necessary in the first place and why it was necessary for police to then raid newsrooms.

Cameraman Bradley Ambrose says his reputation has suffered since the incident and would welcome an apology from the Prime Minister.