The wheels of coverup spin right out in the open these days.
Yesterday Key had to feed McClay his lines – Tracy Watkins: Brain fade embarrassment averted
When McClay was door-stopped on Tuesday over whether he knew Whitney worked for Key at the time the lawyer contacted him about a review of New Zealand’s trust laws, the minister was difficult to pin down.
After a circuitous route around the question of whether McClay did or didn’t know Whitney was Key’s lawyer, the minister eventually offered up that he probably didn’t know but couldn’t remember for sure. For more than 16 minutes McClay veered between being almost certain he didn’t know to being somewhat unsure because it was a long time ago.
Not having had his instructions on what to say, McClay was trying to say nothing. The concept of just telling the truth probably never occured to him. He must have been relieved when he got his lines soon after –
It was only half an hour later that Key fronted up to media and categorically and unequivocally confirmed that he was quite explicit in his conversation with McClay that Whitney was his lawyer.
Pretty good memory for Key, who usually can’t recall what he said 5 minutes ago. He must know that evidence exists, and could come out. But you can still see McClay’s evasions in other coverage yesterday. Compare the now deleted Minister didn’t know who PM’s lawyer was and the revised I told McClay about lawyer, says Key.
Key has changed his own tune too. When this story broke he said he just referred Whitney to McClay –
There’s nothing unusual about it. People ask me about particular issues. I don’t live in a vacuum. I do what is absolutely the correct thing to do, which is send them off to the minister. There’s nothing I wouldn’t have done on a million of other occasions which was to direct them to the minister and let the ministers get on to do their work.
I said to go and see the minister. After that I never had any involvement.
But now it turns that he did have further involvement, he told McClay that his lawyer would be in touch. Does he set up those connections for his “million” other casual conversations too? Of course he doesn’t.