19 Sep 2014

John Key rejects Customs claims

6:35 pm on 19 September 2014

Prime Minister John Key has rejected accusations of political interference in the Customs department.

A former Customs lawyer has told the New Zealand Herald he quit in March after being ordered to deny legitimate requests for official information.

Curtis Gregorash said he believed the directive came from former Customs Minister, Maurice Williamson.

But Mr Key said the allegations had been looked at by Crown Law and disproved.

He said it was the day before an election, and that the claim should be seen in that context.

"The head of the agency that controls the process has rejected it and the Minister has rejected it."

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said he too understood the allegations were unsubstantiated.

But if anyone had concerns about how Government agencies responded to official information requests, they should contact the Ombudsman, he said.

Mr Key said Government agencies take the law very seriously regarding requests for official information.

Internet Party leader Laila Harre said the allegation was evidence of systemtic corruption under the National Government.

Labout Leader David Cunliffe also said it may reflect a wider problem with the process.

Maurice Williamson refused to answer questions about the claims today.