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Key tries to save face over tea tapes

Written By: - Date published: 3:37 pm, March 26th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: john key, Media, uncategorized - Tags:

Throughout the teatapes affair Key has received special treatment. Huge police resources have been wasted. Today’s announcement of no charges is even timed for when Key is overseas. Key claims to be vindicated but no court has ruled Ambrose broke the law. The ruse of the warning and the letter of regret is clearly intended to allow Key to save face. Key literally asks us to “move on” but he must answer for the resources he had wasted and the chilling effect on the media of his strong arm tactics.

42 comments on “Key tries to save face over tea tapes ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    Eddie, you are getting sloppy today. This time no link at all!

    Here you are. Fixed it for you.

    deleted. defamatory

    What will be interesting now will be the Crown Law claims for costs. If there is a prima facie case against Ambrose, will Crown Law have justification for their claim for costs?

    [ the police don’t decide whether there was an offence or not. That’s for the courts. Ambrose has been found guilty of no offence. By saying he was you’re guilty of defamation. I won’t have our website legally exposed like that. Take a month ban. Eddie.]

    • Pete 1.1

      Any first year law student would tell you that unless it’s a strict liability offence (like most driving offences), both the action and the intent have to be there for this activity to be criminal. Ambrose was always very clear that he had inadvertantly left the microphone there – thus lacking the intent for this to be a criminal act.

      • tsmithfield 1.1.1

        Pete: “Ambrose was always very clear that he had inadvertantly left the microphone there – thus lacking the intent for this to be a criminal act.”

        Thats not what the police seem to think. From the article I cited above:

        “In the view of police investigators, the recording was “most likely” on purpose, but at the least “reckless”.”

        • Pete

          “Most likely” is not the criminal burden of proof (although it is enough for taking a prima facie case to trial). Have a read of Ambrose’s letter of regret, it is quite credible in terms of how he came to leave the microphone on the table.

          • Pete George

            Perhaps. But this part is also credible:

            Later that day when the existence of the recording became public I was requested to pass on what I had recorded. I accept that I did so without thinking properly about the effect this would have. I regret this decision.

            As stated I do regret passing this audio on to the Herald on Sunday due to the effects that this had had on those involved including yourself. Contrary to what has been said by some people, this was not intentional…

            Regardless of intent to record, he admits the obvious, passing it on.

            I presume his claim that it “was not intentional” refers to “the effects that this had had on those involved”, as obviously passing it on was intentional.

            I think most journalists would be usually be well aware of the possible effects of passing on information.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Pete. you say he ‘admits the obvious’, like he is saying there is something wrong with it

              He says that he regrets giving it to the HoS, not becuase he is admitting that doing so was wrong, but because of the consequences that had.

              His letter is simply a statement of his position, there is no real apology about it. He maintains that the recording was accidental, that the conversation could not have been reasonably assumed to be private, and that he has therefore not acted unlawfully.

              The consequences I suspect he was refferring to was the reaction from the PMs office, comparing him to News of the World journos and the like, with this impacting on his reputation and work.

              Do you think journos should expect that sort of consequence?

      • Pete George 1.1.2

        There’s also been questions of credibility for that version of the story. Some choose to totally believe journalists when it suits and disbelieve politicians, and vice versa.

        In this case the police seem to have a different opinion to Armbrose. That’s not unusual between prosecutor and accused.

    • McFlock 1.2

      The police seem to have a view that the law was broken, but that it was a first time offence and not serious enough to warrant prosecution on this occassion.

      Isn’t that what diversion is for?
      Just to clarify, your position is that they think the dude bugged the prime minister, but they also think it’s unimportant?


      • Pete George 1.2.1

        “While Police have issued a warning in this instance we are clear that the actions of Mr Ambrose were unlawful. ”

        So the police clearly claim an offence occurred.

        “This sends a clear message to media that the recording and distribution of conversations that are considered private is likely to lead to prosecution in the future.”

        But also seem to think it was important enough to send a message that if it happens again they are likely to take action.


        • McFlock

          Oh please. 
          If someone intentionally bugs the prime minister (particularly as a media employee), that is not a trivial offence.  The UK is having an enquiry about that sort of thing right now.  
          This police “warning” is bullshit – it’s a way of pretending he’s guilty without having to prove it. Personally, I think they should investigate Key for wasting police time.

          • ianmac

            And in the UK the accidental leaving on of Brown’s microphone during his election was in the Public arena in no time. Threat of police unlawful? Nope. Them’s the breaks!

    • queenstfarmer 1.3

      Ambrose has been found guilty of no offence. By saying he was you’re guilty of defamation.

      I have no problem with that, but I wonder if you will also be taking down the articles, and issuing bans for comments, that say Ports of Auckland has broken the law, the National Party has broken election laws, various MPs are corrupt (a criminal offence), etc despite no-one being convicted in a court of law (and yes, companies can sue for defamation too).

      [lprent: You are lying. Point to actual misstatements of fact in posts that are required to pursue a action of defamation. Note that opinion and even speculation are not a basis for defamation except under some quite specialized circumstances. I’m sure that if the Ports of Auckland, National party, or anyone else had an actual case under our current actual defamation laws (ie not the ones in your head) then they would have done so

      In the meantime, while we wait for those actions, take a month off for asserting that we have been misstating facts without even bothering to point to any instances. ]

      • queenstfarmer 1.3.1

        Where in my single sentence did I assert that “you” (the site?) have misstated facts? And what facts did I assert were misstated??

        [lprent: Oh I don’t know exactly how I got that impression? Perhaps you should read your sentences again and consider that I’ve been reading such insinuation and association attacks for decades. I really can’t be bothered with such transparent silliness when it comes to this site. And when you talk about the site, you enter directly into my sysop area of judgement. That has a presumption that you are guilty of wasting my time until you prove that there something I need to look at.

        You can point to instances that I can look at, act on or refute. Don’t make vague statements that I can read anything into. As a matter of policy, I always read the worst possible case into any ambiguous statements about the site and act accordingly.

        BTW: I really despise the tiresome offended ‘innocence’ routine. If you didn’t know the sentences would look like to me, then you need even more time to reflect on it. You very nearly collected another month for using it.

        Your best approach would have been to point to borderline cases. But you’re still pretty new with online forums. You probably don’t realize how boring it is to read that dumb technique yet again… ]

        • Peter in Papua New Guinea


          [You don’t get to tell the site owners how to run it. ..RL]

      • Pete George 1.3.2

        – Throughout the teatapes affair Key has received special treatment.
        – Today’s announcement of no charges is even timed for when Key is overseas.
        – The ruse of the warning and the letter of regret is clearly intended to allow Key to save face.

        I doubt anyone would consider defamation on any of these but they aren’t presented clearly statements of opinion. They imply deliberate political collusion between Key and the police, that’s serious. Evidence or opinion?

  2. Treetop 2

    So Key thinks that no independent inquiry is warranted regarding the ACC fiasco (6700 breaches of privacy, Pullars account in her dealings with the privacy breaches), but when it comes to his rear he feels that huge police resources are justifiable. I just hope that the police are up to the part they play in regarding the ACC fiasco, in particular what Key knew about Smith’s letters and the ACC email breach.

    In future how conveinient for Key to misled or dodge questions, as his defence will be “It was a private conversation.”

  3. tc 3

    A conversation in a public place, at a booked front table next to the outdoor area, where more private tables exist, between 2 public figures, with invited media, police, protective services and David Parker, for one to publicly endorse the other is considered private by the police.

    Fails the reasonable test IMO by some distance but then the PM’s good at these ‘other opinions’.

  4. I think this is a reasonable outcome, but yeah, a shame it took up police resources and was a totally unneccesary diversion in the election campaign.

    I hope that the “the chilling effect on the media” is that they don’t resort to secretly recording conversations of politicians from any party. And I hope they also don’t resort to secretly record the conversations of party operatives and union officials to try and find sources of totally unsubstantiated accusations.

    Suggestions that the police have given special treatment to John Key casts potential aspersions on any politician involved in any police action.

    Has political inteference in any case involving politicians ever been proven?

  5. Rosemary 5

    The cops say “Ambrose’s actions were illegal” but have decided not to prosecute. So far, fine.

    Cops say “Future occurrences were likely to be prosecuted.” Still, all fine.

    “We were satisfied on this occasion that there was (prima facie evidence). Yes, no doubt supporting the view that Ambrose’s actions were illegal, still okay.

    But look at what the cops say here: “In the view of police investigators, the recording was “most likely” appropriate but at the least “reckless”.” Well, in this case without intent there’s no criminality, but the cops still think what Ambrose did was a crime, just that they’re not going to prosecute, which of course they’ll allowed to choose not to do. But they can’t say this while at the same time they believe Ambrose lacked the intent.

    This is clearly an attempt at a stitch up to allow Key not to lose face but at the same time making it unnecessary to go through a silly trial of Ambrose the cops know they’d lose because they wouldn’t be able to show Ambrose had intent, which they admit, but at the same time saying Ambrose committed a crime! It’s absolute bullshit.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1


      In that part of the statement they are saying that in their view the proper verdict for a jury to return would be “Not guilty”

    • starlight 5.2

      yes there is total confusion in their statements,this could mean that Ambrose if he had the
      funds could take it to court to clear his name for defamation purposes.

  6. Anne 6

    Key said the Crown Solicitor sought his views on whether Ambrose should be prosecuted.

    “In light of Mr Ambrose’s letter of regret, I indicated that I did not believe a prosecution was now necessary

    So, the CS asks Key “do you still want Ambrose to be prosecuted?”

    “Nah” says Key. “don’t bother, the election’s over now”.

    “Righto” says the CS “I’ll let the police know not to bother”.

    Jesus wept!

    • hawk 6.1

      Link for this inforamtion please….

      So, the CS asks Key “do you still want Ambrose to be prosecuted?”

      “Nah” says Key. “don’t bother, the election’s over now”.

      “Righto” says the CS “I’ll let the police know not to bother.

      • Anne 6.1.1

        I inserted extra line space to indicate that part was my cynical/humorous interpretation, but for some reason it won’t work. Never had no trouble before…

        Acceptable my dear Mr Hawk?

        • ianmac

          I think your comment Anne is politically very near the truth.

        • Lanthanide

          Don’t worry, hawk obviously has no sense of humour.

          • hawk

            Well I do as it happens but this was not that funny…to me.

            Interesting that when some people give info they are called for links or are banned but others dont have to…..

            Double standards much.:)

            [lprent: Read the policy. The primary reason for people getting bans for “assertion of fact” is because they are asserting something that is either likely to be defamatory within the current scope of defamation law, or they start talking as if the site was a single entity rather than dealing with the individuals who write here. If you want to assert something that falls under either of those two categories then you can expect moderators or me to fall on you from a great height if you do not make it clear if is just your opinion or offer up substantiation with your assertion.

            This protects our site and we really don’t care if you think this constrains your freedom to posture and sprout reheated bullshit … Now I realize that this doesn’t leave much room for unsubstantiated fantasy, but you can always go to whale’s site if you simply want a place to lie in. Your best idea here is to argue your opinions offering up supporting material for people to disagree with, and avoid attracting my attention by addressing the site. ]

            • McFlock

              Interesting that tories seem to be less aware of what constitutes “defamation” (or even “supported assertion of fact”) than those who dress to the left.

  7. PoliticallyCorrected 7

    From the article

    “But police decided there was not sufficient public interest in the matter going to court, he said.”

    Really? Plenty of us would like to see this matter run it’s course. Ambrose can’t defend a position if the Police don’t give him the opportunity to. We think your guilty of an unlawful act and will maintain that position in every piece of media but in the spirit of f$&# you we’re going to refuse to give you the opportunity defend yourself? All this does is leaves the Police able to assume intent and infer intent but never have to actually prove it. I’m might go smell my s&$* – apparently s&$* is smelling like roses today.

    • starlight 7.1

      I agree with you,how dare the police decide what is in the public interest, the public
      still have a right to decide whether its in the public interest or not,or are we in a
      dikyship already.

  8. Blue 8

    I’m happy that John Key now feels no further need to persecute an innocent cameraman.

    But I am really fucking angry at the police for implying that he is guilty anyway. What sort of ‘investigation’ can they have run if they state that his actions were ‘most likely’ deliberate? Ambrose should sue them for defamation.

    Either the investigators are absolute fucking morons or they are too scared of John Key’s wrath if they clear Ambrose completely.

    This scummy little smear on Ambrose’s reputation was completely unnecessary and will now continue to dog him forever in his chosen profession.

    It was an accident, and even if that accident had what some would say were ‘beneficial’ consequences (I’m sure Ambrose would disagree), it is still an accident. A paranoid, egotistical shithead of a PM who thinks every single little thing is all about him is one thing, but the police should know better.

    • starlight 8.1

      Looks like we just have to add this to the mounting list of political interferance actions
      taken by the incumbent lot, as they try to put them to rest in the closet,this time around
      however there is a growing disquiet about the integrity,honesty of the JK led govt so all
      of those hidden files and folders may just have to be salvaged and taken out of the closet.

  9. Anne 9

    Ambrose admitted at the time he was a National voter. I hope he has reconsidered…

    He was hung out to dry for political expediency and to prevent any public scrutiny of the contents of the tape. The irony is, it showed up what a couple of peasants both of them really are, but there was nothing sensational.

  10. The veiled warning to the media is a concern,is this a sign that the media are still only
    going to let us have ‘key friendly’ snippets or stories.
    Pehaps this is the start to a slippery slope and i bet ‘keytator’ will be writing a new
    law on his way home.

    • Pascal's bookie 10.1

      Yes, the warning will have a chilling effect.

      When this went down, lots of people were arguing that if there was anything of consequence on the tape, then the HoS would have published it. I think key made this argument himself, and I’m pretty sure we saw it here from a number of rightward leaning commenters.

      The implication was that if the story was in the public interest, then the HoS would have been justified in publishing the tapes.Tthis warning says that doing so would probably result in prosecution, public interest or no

      And we can probably also say good-bye to hearing what are known as ‘open mic gaffes’, where a politician says something not meant for broadcast, without knowing the mic is on. these gaffes are quite often quite revealing of character.

    • lprent 11.1

      Explains all those 391021 accepted comments? They must be a virtual quantum effect. Sort of like the thousands of people who read here each day and the hundreds of comments and commentators?

      Nah. Some people like yourself just don’t like property rights when others are exercising it to lay out boundaries. Amusing really.

    • fender 11.2

      Is that a poster to promote the Nact Govt plans for the public service?

  11. Eduardo Kawak 12

    It’s a sham.

    I question the motivation behind Mr Ambrose’s letter dated March 18, 2012, written many months after the event.

    Q: Why now Mr Ambrose?

    A: Is it because the constabulary, having completed their investigation, and acting upon legal advice, realised that there was no chance their beatup would lead to a conviction in a criminal court because there was no crime?

    B: Is it because they contacted you Mr Ambrose and told you that if you wrote this this letter it would all go away?

    C: Is it because John Key had already achieved his goal of re-election long before the police investigation concluded and was no longer interested in pursuing his complaint?

    D: Is it all of the above?

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Ambrose probably would have no idea of your options A, C and D so why are you asking him. Except for rhetorically of course. Those same options should be put to John Key however.

    • Pascal's bookie 12.2

      Police said yesterday that Ambrose would receive a warning but would not face charges.

      Mr Key said he felt “totally vindicated” as police deemed Ambrose’s actions unlawful.

      “As part of the conditions I agreed to a letter of regret. The reason I did that is I think I have made my point and it was a very serious principle that I believed in.

      “But it’s time for me to turn the other cheek and move on.”

      The letter was sent to Mr Key’s lawyers last Monday after Crown prosecutors had telephoned him to say there was a prima facie case against Ambrose, but he said he “wanted to make it go away”.



      So the police tell Key what they think, ( ‘we’ll press charges’),

      Key says, ‘If I see a letter I’ll be happy to let it lie’

      Police tell Ambrose.

      Ambrose writes letter outlining his position, and denying he did anything unlawful.

      Key says he’s satisfied with that.

      Police don’t prosecute.

      Spin commences.

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