The Cheryl Gwyn report into the SIS release of information concerning the Goff briefings is a brave principled report. The Herald announced former Auditor General Kevin Brady as the New Zealander of the year in 2006 because he criticised Helen Clark’s pledge card. This year they should confirm Gwyn as the New Zealander of the year. Her bravery should be rewarded.
Her report is startling. Since when has the head of the SIS been told to apologise to a left wing (in the broadest sense of the term) politician? Name me one instance.
SIS head Tucker breached pretty well every rule the Public Service has. He declassified and disclosed to a National Party attack blogger misleading information during an election period which was then used to attack the credibility of Phil Goff. In the middle of a very tight election the head of the country’s security apparatus gave the right incorrect information that was used to attack the leader of the opposition. Maybe in a third world nation like Zimbabwe this would happen but in New Zealand? An apology three years down the line does not seem enough.
John Key’s response is desperate. He wants us to think that there was no link between his office and the attack on Goff. He says that the claim his office helped Slater with the OIA response is “contested”. This is an insult to Gwyn. Her finding is clear. She reported that Slater received guidance and preferential treatment from Key’s office so that Goff could be smeared.
Who should we believe? Ede who deleted his emails to hide the evidence and gave Slater draft blog posts? Slater who Gwyn essentially accused of lying? Or Gwyn herself who has obviously dug deep into the evidence?
Here is the passage of the report where Gwyn essentially said that Slater was lying about having a source within the SIS to protect Ede:
214. Mr Slater also later provided a series of emails to and from Mr Ede, in which Mr Ede expressed his concern that he “might be in the shit” over his use of the NZSIS information. Mr de Joux explained to the inquiry he was not happy Mr Ede had chosen to work through Mr Slater rather than mainstream media because it would create an unhelpful perception. Mr Slater’s email reply to Mr Ede was that he would simply state that he had an NZSIS source. In the context of Mr Ede’s evidence, I interpreted that email to mean that Mr Slater would claim to have an NZSIS source in order to protect Mr Ede.
Radio New Zealand had a poor start to yesterday’s news with Suzy Ferguson and Guyon Espiner claiming that the early release of the report’s conclusion was the same as the institutional use of the country’s security apparatus and the presentation of misleading evidence to undermine the political opposition. They are important parts of the nation’s media. They should not be parroting National attack lines. They should take lessons from Mary Wilson who nailed Key with as a direct a line of questions as you could ever ask for.
Today in Parliament presents an opportunity to ask Key what he means by “contested”. He should be asked if he believes Slater or accepts the findings of the Gwyn report. On Planet Key it may be that Slater is right and Gwyn is wrong. But Planet Key seems to be far away from reality.
Update: Question time in Parliament promises to be very interesting today. Questions will include the following:
2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that parts of the Gwyn Report are “highly contested”; if so, which parts are contested and by whom?
4. Dr MEGAN WOODS to the Prime Minister: Does he agree with Judith Collins that Cameron Slater “manufactured a story and he wanted to believe it” and the findings of the Chisholm Inquiry that Cameron Slater is “prone to exaggeration”?