30 May 2013

Dunne denies leaking secret spy report

6:23 am on 30 May 2013

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has flatly denied leaking a top-secret report into the Government's electronic spy agency after New Zealand First leader Winston Peters made accusations.

A report into illegal spying by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was leaked to Fairfax Media in April this year.

Peter Dunne.

Peter Dunne. Photo: UNITED FUTURE

In a series of tense exchanges at Parliament on Wednesday, Winston Peters accused Peter Dunne of being the source of the leak.

Mr Peters hijacked a hearing of the finance select committee where Mr Dunne was appearing to discuss Inland Revenue.

Under questioning by Mr Peters, the Revenue Minister confirmed that he had been spoken to by the man investigating the leak, David Henry, but denied leaking the report to news media.

Mr Peters continued to push the point, saying he believed Mr Dunne had leaked the report and demanding that the minister answer yes or no.

"With respect," Mr Dunne said, "you asked the question earlier and I gave you an answer of no."

"And you're prepared to say that is a matter that you would say on oath before this committee?" Mr Peters asked.

"Well, Mr Peters, I'm not on trial by this committee," Mr Dunne responded.

Mr Dunne's chief of staff Rob Eaddy has also categorically denied being the source of the leak.

David Henry's deadline for reporting back about the leak is on Friday.

Peters defends actions

Outside the hearing, Peter Dunne described Winston Peters' tactics as a scurrilous stunt. He said he kept the report in a locked briefcase in his home until the day after it was released publicly.

Winston Peters.

Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ

Mr Dunne said only one member of his staff saw the report the day after he received it.

When asked if the report could have been copied, he replied: "Well, it's very difficult when it's in a locked briefcase in a house that I'm not in because I'm overseas at the time."

Winston Peters told reporters that he is entitled to make the allegation, but wouldn't be drawn on the wider issue of how serious it would be for a minister to leak a report.

"Look, I'm not responding to those sorts of questions which are designed, in the end, to get me into a defamation suit. I've been around far too long for that.

"You'll just have to go with what you witnessed at a select committee, with respect to all the questions that were asked today, and that's the end of it."

PM has faith in Dunne

Prime Minister John Key says he has complete confidence in the Revenue Minister and this is stock standard behaviour from Winston Peters, who should show his evidence if he's got any.

Mr Key says he accepts Peter Dunne at his word and has found him to be extremely trustworthy after several years of working together.

But the Labour Party says it is legitimate to ask whether Mr Dunne or a member of his ministerial office leaked a copy of the confidential report into the GCSB.

Leader David Shearer says there was a very small circulation of the document, so therefore it's fair to ask whether Mr Dunne is responsible and Mr Key should seek an assurance from him that he didn't provide the document.