15 Aug 2014

PM continues to stand by Collins

11:00 pm on 15 August 2014

Prime Minister John Key is standing by Cabinet minister Judith Collins after new allegations she may have misused her ministerial power.

Judith Collins.

Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager's latest book, Dirty Politics is largely based on hacked emails and claims that senior National Party members and staff were involved in feeding potentially damaging information on political opponents to right-wing bloggers.

The book has a whole chapter dedicated to Justice Minister Judith Collins and accuses her of regularly feeding a stream of information, gossip and documents to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

It says that about a week before news broke that ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar had mistakenly received thousands of ACC files, Mr Slater was assuring a friend, who was worried the files might contain information on her, that he'd spoken to Ms Collins about it.

Judith Collins admits passing on information to Mr Slater, but said today that's no different from when she deals with other reporters and flat out denies allegations that she may have leaked a letter concerning Ms Pullar in 2012.

She said she has been fully investigated and exonerated in relation to who leaked Bronwyn Pullar's name to the public.

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. Photo: SUPPLIED

"I don't know what else I'm supposed to do to protect myself from these sorts of statements. But Nicky Hager has used his position by receiving stolen emails to further slur me, and, more importantly, the Prime Minister and people in his office. That is deplorable behaviour, and I am sure the legal situation he's in is quite interesting."

Ms Collins said today that Mr Hager has no moral fibre or ethics because he wrote his book using stolen emails.

Earlier, the minister told TVNZ's Breakfast News this morning the book is wrong on all counts. "It's actually full of lies and Nicky Hagar has been very careful to use at least twelve times words like 'she could have', 'might have', 'there's a possibility'. But it's a real smear campaign and I'm quite disgusted with it."

Prime Minister John Key said today that Nicky Hager's book was a smear campaign. He said Ms Collins had refuted its suggestions that she may have misused her ministerial power.

Mr Key said he accepts the senior Cabinet minister's word and would not look into the allegations any further.

Question over public servant's details

Labour Party MP Grant Robertson says there are implications that Judith Collins was involved in disclosing a public servant's details to blogger Cameron Slater to use in a smear campaign.

Dirty Politics accuses Ms Collins of providing details so that Mr Slater could suggest a public servant had been giving Labour MPs information to question National MPs' spending in Parliament. Mr Robertson said the book makes it clear that Ms Collins does pass on details.

"It's quite clear that Judith Collins has provided this information to Cameron Slater as part of effectively a smear campaign against a public servant who there is no evidence has done anything wrong at all."

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