27 Mar 2013

PM 'acquainted' with spy agency head but disclosed it

6:53 pm on 27 March 2013

Prime Minister John Key has admitted he and the head of the Government's spy agency are old acquaintances, with their mothers being best friends.

Mr Key was questioned by the Labour Party's Grant Robertson in Parliament about his relationship with Ian Fletcher, the director of the Government Communications Security Bureau.

Mr Key said he went to school with Mr Fletcher's brother and also replied to a question on whether he'd had contact with Ian Fletcher since their school days.

"Well, Mr Speaker I can't recall particular occasions; I'm sure I may well have done so. What I can say if the member wants to know is my mother was best friends with Ian Fletcher's mother. If that makes a conspiracy, fair enough."

He also said he wouldn't describe Mr Fletcher as a friend.

John 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.

Nepotism, say Greens

Green MP Stefan Browning says Mr Key is a lot closer to Mr Fletcher than he is letting on.

Speaking outside Parliament, Mr Browning said an acquaintance of his was a friend of Mr Fletcher's and Mr Fletcher had said he had regular meals with Mr Key.

"For John to sort of just say oh yeah, he knew him through his brother, they were all mates, they all went to each other's places together, they all hung out together, that is real close and I think it's sinister to have that sort of relationship with the head of the GCSB.

"They're about to revamp, for them to be, to have, that sort of relationship it's nepotism, it's more than that. It's something you might think in some sort of Third World country."

During the questioning in Parliament two Labour MPs - Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins - were kicked out of the House by the Speaker, David Carter.