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GCSB Head, Ian Fletcher resigns

Written By: - Date published: 1:49 pm, January 13th, 2015 - 78 comments
Categories: Ethics, john key, law, Politics, Spying - Tags:

For family reasons he is stepping down… Nothing to see here says Chris Finlayson, great guy who did a great job

Of far more importance is the arrival in yesterdays post of speeding fines for national’s supporters. Woodhouse is moving quickly to say the enforcement is ambiguous. Ron Marks thinks it is the most important thing facing Kiwis…

Speed limit set by law is 100KM. I dont care what the police said, anyone doing more than that is right to be fined. Why is it even an issue? A human right to drive in excess of the speed limit?


Little said the Mr Fletcher’s resignation came as a surprise.

He had met with the GCSB boss before Christmas and said he appeared to be “on top of his job” and speaking about the future of the agency.

He questioned whether Mr Fletcher had been told of “something disagreeable” in the upcoming review of the security agencies and had left as a result.

“A lot of things are put down to family reasons,” Mr Little said.

“He certainly seemed to be well in control and very keen on the job just before Christmas. Now he’s going, and there’s reference to the review coming up.

“It would be helpful if the Government explained exactly what they have in mind for the review because that seems to be a big feature of the circumstances around Ian Fletcher’s resignation.”

Mr Little said Mr Fletcher’s three-year tenure had been a “rocky road” but noted that he had inherited some of the GCSB’s more problematic matters such as the fallout from the Kim Dotcom raid.





78 comments on “GCSB Head, Ian Fletcher resigns ”

  1. Ad 1

    The review of the intelligence services will be one of the biggest games in Wellington this year. As Bowalley Road put it: The Deep State Rises.

    Fletchers’ resignation gives his Minister and PM a chance to restructure or root out all those who don’t agree with the restructure that inevitably follows the full review .

    A generous PM wanting to take the skin out of the review would offer a Senate-style joint successor confirmation across the House.

    Stepping back, government’s task will be to compartmentalise and segment the review away from current themes about ‘freedom of expression’, ‘rights to privacy’, and ‘impartiality of the public service’. Our job will be the reverse of that, in particular enabling Parties to have effective attack-lines.

    We could also consider gearing up to do a submission from TS. If we are game.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      A crowd-sourced submission. Good idea.

    • tracey 1.2

      It would be politically astute to invite Labour into a decision about appointment but even that is fraught.

      I am keen to do a submission…

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1

        Suggestions for consideration: GCSB level spying to be defined as a military activity, with the implicit understanding that deploying military resources against the civilian population is a war crime.

        • Ad

          The structural step would then be to merge GCSB into NZDefence as another wing:

          – Army
          – Navy
          – Airforce
          – Online Defence

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            It’s a complex issue – what do we do about the NSA’s reach, for example – or the potential for John Key to take corporate bribes*. That’s why getting the founding principles right is so important.

            *and what about Russel’s links to the Dalai Lama? 😈

            • Ad

              This restructure won’t be challenging our membership of 5 Eyes.

              Corporate bribes would be a matter for the Police and SFO.

              I believe we should redefine and constrain the roles of the intelligence agencies – and we can debate exactly what those are from the current legislative provisions.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                By definition, any review of our spying policy affects, and therefore challenges, our membership. Otherwise what good is our membership in the first place?

                • Ad

                  Let’s wait until the Terms of Reference come out, but I would be highly surprised if a review of membership was on them.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Are you deliberately missing the point?

                    Our four mates may see our review in an entirely different light. I hope they do, and I hope we can explain to them that the course we (the five of us) are on is covered in wrongsauce, in time to change trajectory.

                    However, I expect that we’ll do nothing of the sort, on account of being paid to look the other way, or something.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          GCSB level spying to be defined as a military activity, with the implicit understanding that deploying military resources against the civilian population is a war crime.

          And deploying the GCSB against foreign powers or foreign diplomats would then be considered an act of military aggression?

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Not if you consider military philosophy: the purpose of spying is to avoid or minimise bloodshed.

            • Ad

              The attack by an ISIS affiliate upon the USDF Twitter and Youtube accounts yesterday being the most recent example.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Warmongers do their best to sow fear in any context. The Caliph too.

              • tracey

                is that proven? I only ask cos there was a report following the US pointing the finger at N Korea, that a disgruntled sony employee hacked Sony?

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The attack Ad refers to is one against the US army by ISIL. Publishing soldiers’ home addresses and threatening them (and obviously their families).

                  The Caliph, like any fearmonger, has far less reach than he thinks he does. Wingnuts flock together and share their chains, if you like.

        • Naturesong

          The GCSB is already a military institutiuon.

  2. adam 2

    Are not race tracks easy to hire – Sorry link is for the car heads – with money.



    If you got caught, you pays ya fine like everyone else, or are we a tin-pot semi royal worshiping democracy? Sorry to see you go Ian, must say as a public servant it seems you failed of the free and frank advice part in you job contract/obligation.

  3. Colonial Rawshark 3

    No doubt Ian Fletcher will be in another top six-figure job within 6 months, also for family reasons. See if he doesn’t join one of the other FVEY outfits, for instance, or one of the private contractors.

  4. Skinny 4

    Fletcher would be cursing the day he got played for a patsy by honest John Key. There is a lot more to come about this resignation. I would expect a whistle blower to come out, totally sick of the deceit. Panicked phone calls between Hawaii & National Party spin department in damage control.

    Winston Peters claims during the rushed GCSB bill of spy’s, lies and alibi’s is coming back to haunt crap happy Key.

    • tracey 4.1

      I wonder. I imagined that Key talked clearly with Fletcher before later asking him to apply about just want he wanted BUT Key is a serial liar, so why not dupe Fletcher too? Will Fletcher be a Tucker or not? Will have signed that secrecy thingy though which protects EVERYTHING

      • Anne 4.1.1

        The Herald take on the “surprise” resignation.


        Excerpt from Andrew Little’s comments:

        Labour leader Andrew Little said Mr Fletcher’s resignation came as a surprise.

        He had met with the GCSB boss before Christmas and said he appeared to be “on top of his job” and speaking about the future of the agency.

        He questioned whether Mr Fletcher had been told of “something disagreeable” in the upcoming review of the security agencies and had left as a result.

        “A lot of things are put down to family reasons,” Mr Little said.

        Little swiftly on the attack. Good on him.

      • Skinny 4.1.2

        A guy like Fletcher can command a lot more money for less hassle in Australia. When you think about the botched Dotcom raid and illegal spying.

        Then you add the sketchy conduct by Jason Ede, where John Key denies any knowledge of the unethical and highly likely illegal skullduggery goings on, is it little wonder Fletcher wants out with his reputation intact. It appears being tarred with guilty by association isn’t what he signed up for. Funny Finlayson has been left with his arse flapping in the wind, no one believes ‘family reasons’ for his resignation. Especially a hasty exist in February. Getting out while the goings good I’d say.

        • Ffloyd

          I agree with you Skinny. Bet he never got the full info on what would be expected of him. He must have been going flat out to cover key’s R’s on the run up to the election. If he has done it because of integrity, good on him. They’ll be spinning in Hawaii!!!

          • Chooky

            yes interesting….Fletcher has always given me the impression of being a fairly decent guy…could be quite wrong of course…but there are decent guys in the secret service …Edward Snowden was one

  5. coaster 5

    On the speed limit, its 100km per hour, if you are caught over that the police have a right to issue a ticket. There is a tolerance, margin of error that needs to be in place, but that doesnt make the speed limit higher than 100km per hour.

    on the ian fletcher thing, could he actually be resigning for family reasons?

    • tracey 5.1

      On speeding – agree 100%. Makes you think some well heeled NZF and NATS got some speeding tickets and want a different set of rules… mind you Woodhouse has been quick to back them, so must be a BIG constituency

      On Fletcher – of course he could be, and Little is being mischievious by suggesting “family” reasons” covers a multitude of scenarios…

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.2

      on the ian fletcher thing, could he actually be resigning for family reasons?

      The fact that no real explanation has been given has opened up questions. In contrast, when David Cunliffe pulled out of the leadership race late last year, news reports were quite specific on the “family reasons” that were involved.

    • gsays 5.3

      about the speeding thing, i agree it is a limit not a target.
      u go over you bear the consequences.

      this from a regular motorcyclist.

      the bit that stinks about this is mr woodhouse and having a crack at the constabulary for their message ref speeding.
      did he do this coz some polling said enough joe (and joanne) kiwi didnt like what the police were up to?

      i dont know about y’all but i want my leaders to aspire to higher things (like the law), rather than take their cues from how the sheeple react.

      • Murray Rawshark 5.3.1

        Yep, it could be looked at as more political influence on ngati poaka. I thought they were supposed to be independent, but given the name of the IPCA, they may not have a great understanding of the concept.

  6. Anne 6

    Nothing much to go on yet, but I do wonder sometimes if Dr Warren Tucker was made a scapegoat for the Goff/SIS/Slater affair and whether something similar is about to happen to Fletcher and he knows it.

    We’ll know one way or the other within the next little while.

    • tracey 6.1

      signing the secrecy stuff gags them… on ALL things.

    • politikiwi 6.2

      That’s a very astute observation, actually: Fletcher will know **exactly** what went on with the Goff thing and may be uncomfortable with the extent to which Tucker was hung out to dry. And looking down the barrel of a review, a wise person might think better than to wait around for a similar fate.

  7. Bea Brown 7

    Of course he might just have been offered a better job back in Australia.

  8. Clemgeopin 8

    ‘Family reasons?’ I am skeptical.

    Wouldn’t it be cool, highly patriotic and a great service if Fletcher were to become a conscientious whistle blower and spilled all the dirty evil beans indulged in by this dodgy Government and the GCSB?

  9. tracey 9

    His parting tome can be found here…


    NZ Information Security Manual
    by Ian Fletcher
    November 2014

    It appears this is the culmination of what he was “hired” to do.

    • Clemgeopin 9.1

      What is a ‘parting tome’?

      Or did you mean, tomb? Like in …’Beside buddy Key, here lies Fletcher’?

      [Also, your link is dead]

      • tracey 9.1.1

        A tome is

        ” a book, especially a large, heavy, scholarly one.
        “a weighty tome”
        synonyms: volume, book, work, opus, writing, publication, title

        early 16th century (denoting one volume of a larger work): from French, via Latin from Greek tomos ‘section, roll of papyrus, volume’; related to temnein ‘to cut’.

        Link is live for me, it is to webbased pdf?

        • McFlock

          It’s to a pdf file, it opens in a browser only if the browser has a pdf-viewer plugin.

          It’s a fairly large file (my grunty work machine took a wee while to download and open it), so that might explain why it looks dead to clem: it’s taking ages to download and open the doc.

  10. BLiP 10

    The lies John Key has told about New Zealand’s spy agencies and Ian Fletcher . . .

    Iain Rennie came to me and recommended Fletcher for the GCSB job

    I told Cabinet that I knew Ian Fletcher

    I forgot that after I scrapped the shortlist for GCSB job I phoned a life-long friend to tell him to apply for the position

    I told Iain Rennie I would contact Fletcher

    I haven’t seen Ian Fletcher in a long time.

    I did not mislead the House (13)

    I have no reason to doubt at this stage that Peter Dunne did not leak the GCSB report

    I called directory service to get Ian Fletcher’s number

    the new legislation narrows the scope of the GCSB

    the GCSB has been prevented from carrying out its functions because of the law governing its functions

    because the opposition is opposed the GCSB law ammendments, parliamentary urgency is required

    the increasing number of cyber intrusions which I can’t detail or discuss prove that the GCSB laws need to be extended to protect prive enterprise

    it was always the intent of the GCSB Act to be able to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of the SIS and police

    National Ltd™ is not explanding the activities of the GCSB with this new law

    cyber terrorists have attempted to gain access to information about weapons of mass destruction held on New Zealand computers

    the law which says the GCSB cannot spy on New Zealanders is not clear

    it totally incorrect that the Government effectively through GCSB will be able to wholesale spy on New Zealanders

    we self identified that there was a problem with the GCSB spying on Kim Dotcom

    the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was an isolated incident

    The advice I have had in 4 years as a Minister is that in no way ever has there been an indication of unlawful spying

    the Ministerial Warrant signed by Bill English did not cover anything up

    I wasn’t briefed about the raid on Kim Dotcom’s home.

    first I heard I heard about Kim Dotcom was on 19 January 2012

    first I heard about the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was in 17 September 2012

    I did not mislead the House (14)

    I won’t be discussing Kim Dotcom during my Hollywood visit.

    The Human Rights Commission couldn’t get its submission on the GCSB legislation in on time.

    it would cost too much to for the police and SIS to carry out the spying on New Zealanders that this new legislation will permit

    critics of the GCSB legislation, including the Law Society, the Human Rights Commission, and the Privacy Commission, are all uninformed

    no, I did not mislead the House (15)

    I do not know how Mr Henry is conducting the Enquiry

    no, I did not mislead the House (16)

    the Henry Enquiry had permission to view Ministers’ emails

    no, I did not mislead the House (??)

    we do not spy on journalists

    the passing of phone records to the Henry Enquiry was an error on the part of a contractor

    I wasn’t aware that my own Chief of Staff was instructing Parliamentary Services to hand over information concerning journalist Andrea Vance

    National Ltd™ has never tried to impinge on the role of the media

    I had nothing to do with information on a journalist being handed over to the inquiry into the leaking of the GCSB report

    the terms of the enquiry made it clear to everyone that it was only the phone records of parliamentary staff and ministers that were to be provided

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      …coming home to roost.

      No. Being hidden from immediate scrutiny.

    • tracey 10.2


    • adam 10.3

      Again it’s a long list…

      Welcome to NZ, a lying PM and a corporatocracy very full of itself – of late.

      • tracey 10.3.1

        but…but…but… he is popular and stuff so it cant be bad

        • aerobubble

          Popular for only so long as he does not look like a waste of space, and so by association voters feel vindicated for voting for him. Thats why its so telling, that Key hired a bureaucrat without militrary or spy experience, and could not fathom why highly intelligent spooks ran rings round his office, exposing Key to years of security crisises, data leaks, dot com, Collins, everyone was having a laugh at Key for leaving our security services open to abuse. And so by associatihe cabinet, the national party and suppose bastions of good decision making National voters. Key, forced out of his role as intelligence minster, wow, he really f.up. How does a PM do that, paryially sack himself from the serious sp ministry.

    • gsays 10.4

      jeez blip i would not want to get in your bad books.

      thanx heaps for the work in compiling the list (catalogue) of inconsistencies.
      it will be refered to many times by myself.

      • Chooky 10.4.1

        imagine being BLip’s partner or kids …it would be bloody scarey having all your lies/fibs/half truths /exaggerations/falsehoods / dissemblings documented …honesty would definitely be the best policy

        ….but the politicians deserve BLip!…and BLip does us all a great service…BLip would make a great intelligence analyst…maybe BLip should apply for whats- his- name’s job

        • Clemgeopin

          There is a vacancy at the GCSB. Ideal for BLiP!
          May be he should include his invaluable great list and apply for the job, just for fun, to see what happens!

    • You’re a national treasure, BLiP.

    • mickysavage 10.6

      Cheers BLiP. Please keep it up!

    • hoom 10.7

      I hate these lists.
      I love that you make them, but hate that Key is such a crook they exist.

      You should get them up on a website somewhere so they can be more easily tracked/pointed to.

    • Treetop 10.8

      I am sure that BLip could add to the list were he to have seen Fletcher on Campbell Live in the last quarter of 2014.

  11. Eralc 11

    It is for family reasons. Give him some space.

    • Colonial Rawshark 11.1

      You’re calling on reserves of trust and goodwill that he and his organisation never built or cared about building.

    • tricledrown 11.2

      Eralacky After all the controversy around Dirty Politics and KDC raids and his Dodgy fastracked appointment!
      Give me a break,it means he won’t have to answer questions about corrupting the GSCB by John Key for political gain by his childhood buddy who Key denied maintaining a friendship!

    • Tracey 11.3


      “give him a break”? What? he is not even reading here is he?

  12. ghostwhowalksnz 12

    My theory is that he missed out on the top job at Foreign Affairs that we know is open( the current head is going to the TAB)
    I bet he heard the result just before Xmas, and thought it over and handed in his resignation in New year.

    Normally head of GCSB is seen as an end of career job, but Fletcher isnt finished yet and wanted bigger and better things. He didnt leave his Queensland job to go to a dead end in Wellington.
    As well all previous heads of GCSB reported directly to PM, but Key is too lazy for that and was fobbed off on to his minions. Now its reporting to a middle ranked minister. In public service terms this is kiss of death, so time to go upwards or get out.

    Now the pretence of GCSB not spying on NZ citizens has been shown as a big lie, its likely to be folded into some sort of super agency ( its nationals DNA to create bureaucratic monsters)

  13. Papa tuanuku 13

    I’m finding Tracey’s posts a little incoherent. A bit of time on editing please

  14. Truth Will Out 14

    It appears that the Prime Sinister is running out of friends, and corners to hide in…

    • Sable 14.1

      Nice notion but I doubt that is what is happening in this case. Indeed even if Keys is forced out and he might be in time, the hydra that is National will just grow another head..

  15. Sable 15

    Why do we even have a GCSB or for that matter foreign intelligence services such as the NSA and CIA in NZ (anyone who does not think they are here is fooling themselves)?

    More than anything else this threatens not only human rights but also the sovereignty of this country by placing our freedoms in the hands of foreign interests.

  16. Clemgeopin 16

    Could be leaving for conscience driven family reasons of distressed families who were/are being spied on unethically, unfairly and illegally! That is perhaps what he enigmatically really meant by the phrase, ‘family reasons’!

    • Chooky 16.1

      @ Clemgeopin….very good rationale….and excellent reason for resigning

      ….i wonder what Winnie’s sources are telling him

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