25 Nov 2014

Labour wants apology from PM

8:30 am on 25 November 2014

The new leader of the Labour Party says an apology about the release of information to a right-wing blogger should come from the Prime Minister, not the Security Intelligence Service.

Phil Goff

Former Labour leader Phil Goff. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

The head of the SIS , Rebecca Kitteridge, will this morning apologise to former Labour Party leader Phil Goff.

The apology is expected as the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, releases findings of her investigation into allegations in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics.

The book accused the Prime Minister's Office of helping right-wing blogger Cameron Slater to request information in 2011 which would be embarrassing to Mr Goff.

Radio New Zealand has been told that Ms Gwyn's report would confirm that

Labour Leader Andrew Little announcing Labour's new caucus

Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Labour Party leader Andrew Little told Morning Report the situation arose because of an unhealthy relationship between John Key's office and bloggers.

"It is part of John Key's smear machine that he has set up, he's been tripped up by it, and I think irrespective of where the apology's come from in terms of the SIS, actually there needs to be an apology from John Key for the state apparatus being put in this position."

In the lead-up to the election, Prime Minister John Key said neither he nor his office had anything to do with the information's release.

The inquiry was also expected to reveal that the-then SIS director, Warren Tucker, dealt with the request for information in an incomplete and unprofessional manner.

In 2011, Phil Goff said he had never been briefed about alleged Israel spies being caught up in the Christchurch earthquake in February that year. Both John Key and Warren Tucker disputed that.

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Warren Tucker Photo: RNZ

Dr Tucker's briefing notes were then released in a matter of days after Cameron Slater made a request for them. They appeared to confirm that Mr Goff had been briefed on the matter.

However, Cheryl Gwyn has found that Dr Tucker did not release all the relevant information. There is apparently a note signed by Mr Goff and Dr Tucker which confirms there was no briefing on the Israeli spies.

Radio New Zealand has been told the report shows that Dr Tucker regularly briefed Mr Key's then-deputy chief of staff Phil de Joux.

When the political squabble about the Israeli spies became public, Mr de Joux told another staffer, Jason Ede, that the office needed to get Dr Tucker's briefing note released under the Official Information Act.

The report was expected to show that Mr Slater was on the phone to Mr Ede as he filed his OIA request.

Author Nicky Hager.

Author Nicky Hager Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Author Nicky Hager told Morning Report it appeared a very respectable, organized review has found the same thing he did.

Mr Hager said he supposed the Prime Minister would claim he didn't know, but he had to face up to the fact his staff were involved.

"It was clearly part of an attack strategy against their opponents at that time and so he has to wear it, he has to face up to the fact it was his staff who he was in charge of and he was given the benefit of it."

TVNZ screengrab. Blogger Cameron Slater.

Cameron Slater Photo: TVNZ

Neither John Key or Phil Goff would comment before the release of the report, but the Green Party has demanded a Royal Commission. Co-leader Metiria Turei said the report had found the most damning allegation in the Dirty Politics book to be true.

"John Key at the time he denied the validity of the book, was wanting to win the election campaign under any circumstance. And so he misled New Zealanders about what he knew about the smear campaign that was being run out of his office."

The report is to be released at 10am, shortly after Mr Goff receives an apology from SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge.

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