28 Mar 2013

More details from top state servant on PM and spy chief

11:31 pm on 28 March 2013

More details from top state servant on PM and spy chief

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has provided more information on how the director of New Zealand's spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, was appointed.

On Wednesday Prime Minister John Key revealed his and Ian Fletcher's mothers were best friends and that the two men have known each other since their school days.

Mr Key said he'd disclosed that he knew Ian Fletcher to the State Services Commissioner, when Iain Rennie recommended him as head of the GCSB.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Rennie confirmed Mr Key told him he knew Mr Fletcher but says that did not prevent Mr Fletcher being considered for a top job in the state sector.

Mr Rennie says Mr Fletcher was selected for the job after a rigorous process in 2011.

Mr Rennie says during the recruitment process - and two years earlier when he first met him - Mr Fletcher was open about the fact that he had known the Prime Minister when he was young and had met him infrequently since then.

The Labour Party says the Prime Minister needs to be up front with the public about the relationship.

Deputy leader Grant Robertson says Mr Key needs to be more transparent about it.

He says on some occasions Mr Fletcher briefs Mr Key one-on-one and has been involved in the Kim Dotcom affair.

Mr Robertson says the Prime Minister needs to say how the conflict of interest is being managed now that Mr Fletcher is in the role.