John Key has for the past couple of days dismissed Nicky Hager’s book and has claimed that National has done nothing wrong and has nothing to apologise for. It appears that the defence is starting to unwind however and there must be questions about the veracity of what Key has told the country.
One of the claims was that Jason Ede, Ministerial and Parliamentary staffer had hacked into the Labour Party server when it was crippled and took information from it. Key has rubbished this claim. This is a report from Radio New Zealand two days ago:
But Mr Key told reporters in Dunedin today that National had nothing to do with that. “Yeah, this is Nicky Hager, one of life’s great conspiracy theorists … Cameron Slater’s made it quite clear it had nothing to do with the National Party.” He was then asked why the public should believe Mr Slater over Mr Hager and replied that the writer was “making stuff up.”
In the book, Mr Hager singles out National Party staffer Jason Ede as a key conduit to right-wing bloggers, especially Mr Slater. Mr Key said while National Party ministers and staff do talk to bloggers, they’re doing nothing untoward. He said he totally rejects claims in the book that he or his staff were involved in hacking the Labour Party’s website or information releases by the SIS.
Mr Key said Dirty Politics makes all sorts of wild allegations and joined a whole lot of dots that can’t be connected. He said Jason Ede no longer works in his office, but does for the National Party and he stands by Mr Ede and his actions.
In an ironic twist of fate a letter has emerged which contradicts what Key has said about the hacking of Labour’s computer. The Herald has just reported:
Speaking to media this afternoon Labour leader David Cunliffe said: “The Labour Party is today releasing correspondence from the National Party, dated 2011, which confirms that at least one of its staff were involved in infiltrating the Labour Party’s website.”
A copy of the email correspondence was sent to media this afternoon.
It consists of an email from National’s general manager Greg Hamilton, to Chris Flatt, then Labour’s general secretary, dated June 13, 2011.
“We do accept that one of our staff visited your public website via URL http://healthyhomeshealthykiwis.org.nz and read files that were publicly available,” it said.
“It appears that he downloaded a file named Labour Newsletter and several compressed files with the view of reading later. In fact the compressed files remain un-opened.”
“The National Party has not and will not be publishing any of it and has not and will not be releasing any personal information.”
Mr Cunliffe said he expected Prime Minister John Key to apologise to New Zealanders.
“I would now like to see an apology from the Prime Minister and an admission that he misled the public in the last 48 hours.”
The correspondence consisted of an admission from National’s general secretary that the party “actually did infiltrate our website”.
Mr Cunliffe would not confirm if the person he alleged hacked into Labour’s website was Mr Key’s close advisor Jason Ede.
“The person is not named [in the correspondence], but you can draw your own conclusion,” he said.
Maybe Key will try the defence that it was staff employed by National and not him that did the hacking. But is this is the first test then it is clear that Hager and not Key should be believed.
Update: Thanks Karol for this transcript which really makes it clear:
KEY: There’s a couple of allegations that Hager’s made that are completely and utterly wrong.
REPORTER: Which are?
KEY: A: National’s been nowhere near Labour’s website, as I said. Mr Slater’s made it quite clear this morning that he found the way in there and that’s because it was completely open and Labour didn’t have any protection on it. Nothing to do with National.
REPORTER. Hager has emails showing that Jason Ede was talking about tr0lling through the Labour Party website:
KEY: yeah, well that’s not correct. It’s nothing
REPORTER: Are you saying those emails are false?
KEY: What I’m saying is that it is nothing to do with us. What happened was – Mr Slater’s made it quite clear on his website today, that in fact it was nothing to do with the National Party.
REPORTER: [?] goes back to your office?
KEY: No I don’t think that’s right. Nothing to do with our office.