15 Aug 2014

Key 'not worried' if documents released

8:49 pm on 15 August 2014

The author of Dirty Politics says he is considering releasing some of the original documents about the most controversial aspects of his book.

Investigative writer Nicky Hager largely based it on hacked emails, claiming senior National Party members and staff were involved in feeding embarrassing and potentially damaging information on political opponents to right-wing bloggers.

Prime Minister John Key

Prime Minister John Key says Nicky Hager has made accusations which are disolving before his eyes. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

At a media briefing this morning, Prime Minister John Key said he believed the book was based on assumption and would not be taking any action. He admitted he had not read the book, but said members of his staff had done so.

Mr Key described the book as a smear campaign from the left and said he thought New Zealanders were more interested in policy.

He says Mr Hager has made assumptions and accusations which are dissolving before his eyes.

"He didn't do what a true journalist would do. He didn't go and check out the facts, he didn't try and get that side of the story. He did exactly what I've been saying - he's politically motivated, left-wing person trying to present a particular agenda and smear me and the Government.

Author Nicky Hager.

Nicky Hager. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

"But he should knock his socks off and release anything he wants."

Dirty Politics focuses on the internal communications between bloggers Cameron Slater of Whale Oil and David Farrar of Kiwiblog and a network of National Party figures, including some of the John Key's own staff.

Nicky Hager told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme today he was considering releasing more details to back up his claims but he would need to go back to his source for the original material.

"I am considering releasing some of the material which is about the main things which are in dispute so that people can see the source documents for themselves."

He denied that he had broken the law over emails used as the basis of the book, saying they were leaked to him and he had nothing to do with the hacking itself.

Blogger Cameron Slater has said he is not worried about the book as its author Nicky Hager "writes works of fiction regularly". Speaking yesterday to Radio Live from South Korea, where he stopped en route to Israel, he said the author had been very selective.

"I have sources across the political spectrum and outside of politics as well and Nicky has selectively chosen ones that are damaging to the National Party and hasn't published anything that might be damaging to the Labour Party."

Take responsibility PM, says Cunliffe

David Cunliffe.

David Cunliffe. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe says Prime Minister John Key is insulting the intelligence and ethics of New Zealanders by dismissing claims in Nicky Hager's book and calling him a left-wing conspiracy theorist.

But Mr Cunliffe said today that New Zealanders have had a guts-full of that nonsense.

"These issues will not go away, they cannot go away, they should not go away. And if the Prime Minister thinks he can just grin at a camera and pretend none of this has been going on on his watch for the last six years - he's got another thing coming."

Mr Cunliffe said Mr Key must take responsibility for the actions.

Port company rejects payment claim

Ports of Auckland rejects a suggestion in the book that it paid Cameron Slater to publish material attacking the Maritime Union during an industrial dispute.

Dirty Politics quotes an email exchange between Mr Slater and another blogger, about how much he might charge the council-owned port company to run anti-union material.

Ports of Auckland's communications manager Matt Ball said that never happened, and he is reasonably confident that money paid to outside advisers at the time did not go to Mr Slater.

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