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The CV of a Spy Boss

Written By: - Date published: 5:14 pm, April 3rd, 2013 - 85 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, iraq, john key, slippery, uk politics - Tags: , ,

What was it about the short listed candidates for GCSB boss that was lacking?  And what was it about Ian Fletcher that made him a more suitable candidate?

The cronyist element of Key’s role in his appointment is very concerning, as Eddie shows.  This suggests that Fletcher was someone he knew and felt he could trust. But it is also necessary to look at why Key and Rennie considered Fletcher to be a more suitable person.  Chris Trotter argues that a change under Key award from the low profile grey men, towards more high profile men which began with the appointment of Jerry Mateparae.

Fletcher’s background is also worth looking at.  His profile on the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s website says he began his career in the NZ diplomatic service in 1989. Until 1991, he was in the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

He then worked in Trade Policy at the end of the GATT Uruguay Round, and continued this work during a secondment with European Commission, negotiating in the World Trade Organisation on Free Trade Agreements.

Mr. Fletcher returned to the UK in 1998 and, after working in DTI’s HR area, he joined the then Overseas Trade Services organization at the time the Wilson Review of Export Promotion was being finalized and British Trade International was being established, working on finance HR and corporate policy issues. In 2000, Mr. Fletcher undertook a secondment with the UN Administration in Kosovo as Head of the Customs Service and Department of Trade & Industry. He returned later that year to head DTI’s Directorate responsible for electricity and gas policy.

During 2002, he moved to the Cabinet Office as Principal Private Secretary to Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service.

Since 2004, Ian had been Managing Director, International in UKTI, managing the UK’s foreign commercial service.

Following that,

Mr. Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property in March 2007.

So, he has experience in patents and intellectual property issues as well as free trade.  This is very relevant to the Dotcom case that was becoming particularly significant just before Fletcher was appointed.  This is also strongly connected with the TPP negotiations currently in progress.

This was said about his role when he was appointed chief executive for the UK patents office:

“I am pleased to welcome Ian to the Patent Office at this exciting time. The recent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property redefines the Patent Office’s role both in the UK and abroad, seeing intellectual property rights as vital for British businesses. I look forward to working with him and the Office as it develops in the light of the planned name change to UK Intellectual Property Office on 2 April.”

Ian Fletcher said;

“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”

It’s interesting to look at what Sir Andrew Turnbull was up to when Fletcher was his private secretary (2002-2004). According to the Wikipedia page on Turnbull, there was the small issue of Turnbull and the Blair government’s role in Iraq:

Turnbull became involved in controversy when on 28 February 2004 he wrote a formal letter admonishing ex-minister Clare Short for making media statements alleging that British intelligence had intercepted communications from (amongst others) Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Short made the confidential letter public, and in turn rebuked Turnbull for allegedly allowing the government decision-making machinery to crumble in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war. Short suggested that the government’s legal expert, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, had been “leant on” to provide advice that war would be legal.[1] She argued that Turnbull had been responsible for what she alleged was inadequate Cabinet scrutiny of the legal advice, of the basis for the decision to go to war and the alternatives:

“He allowed us to rush to war in Iraq without defence and overseas policy meeting, looking at all the military options and the diplomatic options and political options. (He) allowed the Joint Intelligence Committee to meet with Alastair Campbell chairing it.”[2]

 

In March 2005, Lord Turnbull revealed that Lord Goldsmith’s opinion on the legality of the Iraq War was only one page long.

So, not only has Fletcher got an NZ background but he has been involved in overseas operations involving intellectual property, globalisation and business.  He also was working for Turnbull in the period when he mislead the public about the UK’s decisions to go to war in Iraq.  There’s also the issue of intercepting UN communications.

85 comments on “The CV of a Spy Boss”

  1. seeker 1

    Wow! Fantastic investigative work Karol. if only our msm were up to the same standard!.
    What a right couple of little unsavoury so and so s Key’s old school was unwittingly nurturing. Yuk.

  2. xtasy 2

    Karol, great that you picked this up! I read the CV of Fletcher somewhere else before, I am not sure whether it was on the NZ Herald online or idiot Kiwiblog, but yes, some things in it struck me.

    He worked in diplomatic posts, in trade and negotiations on it, he worked for the UN and in other jobs. NONE of his previous jobs would appear to make him qualified to run a “spy agency” or investigating agency.

    One might have looked at a former senior cop, or one from SIS or whatever, to qualify, not someone with Fletcher’s background. It is really odd. And this is where the appointment and selection become unstuck. There is clearly insufficient evidence that Fletcher was the “best suited” person for heading GCSB. And for those saying a foreign person would not be suited, we had top jobs given to UK persons before, and that was due to them having particular qualifications that was asked for.

    So the question arises, very justifiably, why did Fletcher get the job, lacking intelligence and investigation experience, was it not perhaps, because he had mates or friends in high places?

    There is nothing else that shows me, why he would have got the top job in that agency.

    Key has a damned lot to answer to, after inviting him to apply, so to say. This is a huge scandal, if only useless NZ media would realise and accept it. I am waiting for them to do their bloody job now!

    • karol 2.1

      Yes, xtasy. I first saw Fletcher’s previous jobs listed on NZ news sites – articles back when he was appointed. This was before the Dotcom story got big, so it probably didn’t really compute with many of us.

      seeker, the research was easy. I just googled to get more detail on his jobs and the ones I linked to were among the first up.

      • seeker 2.1.1

        It is still great that you bothered karol. Thanks. The way I ‘m feeling at the mo I just would not have got round to it and besides I would probably have had to return this computer to my son just in the middle of links. Am having to borrow his machine when I can, as mine has finally had it. Am hoping that the same can soon be said of mr key.

  3. yeshe 3

    Thanks Karol .. xclnt. Seems as though he might have been a ‘spook’ for quite a while if one reads between the various lines … and I didn’t know he is now “Lord Turnbull’ !! Cronyism of the most egregious kind !

  4. Huginn 4

    Thanks, Karol. That’s a very useful background.

    Andrea Vance has reminded us that:

    ‘Fletcher was appointed in September 2011 and took up the position early in February last year.

    One of his first jobs was to attend a joint police-GCSB briefing about the raid on Kim Dotcom’s rural Auckland mansion.

    At that briefing the bureau learned it may have illegally spied on the internet mogul, who is accused by the US of internet piracy.’

    Which puts Key’s ‘glittering’ civil servant in charge of the GCSB at the time that it was covering up its illegal actions.

    This raises so many ugly questions.

    Source:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8500613/What-did-Key-know-about-spy-boss-appointment

    • The industry position against piracy has its own dark side. In a nutshell companies like CBS and Disney have been involved with distribution of file sharing software for the distribution of their own digital media, and then pushing for legislation to punish file sharing.

      In 2009 the Obama administration had appointed five RIAA lawyers to the US department of justice.
      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/04/obama-taps-fift/

  5. xtasy 5

    Yes, ok, he is supposed to be an expert on intellectual property, but one would think that to run a spy agency, more is needed, which Fletcher lacks.

    • karol 5.1

      I think, as Trotter points out, the appointment involves a shift to someone who has a public political profile. Key has effectively politicised the role, and recommended someone who is sympathetic to his & US intellectual property policies and free trade policies.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Exactly what the US corporates and banksters wanted.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1

          Exactly. Reading what Karol has quoted it seems obvious to me that he was chosen because of his political reliability and not because of any ability to do the job.

          • UpandComer 5.1.1.1.1

            Haha! No ability to do the job, why because that very long list of major responsibilities is public sector?!

            • One Tāne Huna 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Baby steps, UpandNohesfallenoveragain, the point being made is that Fletcher has the political skills required, as opposed to the practical or operational. Do I need to use fewer syllables?

              • Colonial Viper

                But good manager leaders can run any kind of outfit. You can move a good manager between a nuclear power plant, MI5, a chocolate biscuit factory, a Formula One team and a Hollywood movie set in turn and they’d good results at everything they touched! No prior industry experience needed.

                Yay for the wealth creators!

                • Colonial Weka

                  So true! Look how well that has worked in health, welfare, ACC etc.

                  • xtasy

                    It is going to work even “better” soon with outsourcing work capability assessments from WINZ, so turnover, profit and gains will set the agenda to get the lazy layabouts in wheel chairs and without sight off their bludged benefits and get real jobs, right?

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1.1.2

              Where did I say that he had no ability to do the job?

              • xtasy

                He did the job just fine, exactly as the master expected, so he even shot over target, by not listening to stupid Police advice that Dotcom and his Dutch colleague were NZ residents, supposedly not to be spied on by GCSB.

                Doing the job is one thing open to interpreation DtB.

                Whether rules are followed or not, the target and goal may become more important than abiding by small print and the law.

                That would be a job well done, same as Putin would see it in Russia.

      • Huginn 5.1.2

        Trotter also points out that the focus of the GCSB itself has shifted, and that it has been politicised as a result of that shift.

        By the way, if we take Key at his word, and accept that he and Fletcher weren’t close, then we should be asking who recommended Fletcher to Key – who brokered those breakfast meetings? And whether Key still rates that person’s advice because Fletcher truly cocked it up for Key when he green-lighted the GCSB’s cover-up.

        And whether Key has asked Fletcher to resign for the GCSB cover-up.

  6. xtasy 6

    Having watched the news on ONE and 3News, I already see that the ground is laid to let Key off the hook again. It was just brief mention, although amongst the top topics, but they did present it as not to question Key’s words. It was Robertson against Key so to say, and then the public will again think, oooh, John Key is such a nice face, he is smart, he has “business experience”, I’d rather trust him. Forget it, this will again lead to nothing, the screwed up media in NZ NOT doing their jobs again!

  7. ianmac 7

    Campbell Live tonight for his take on the issue.

    I thought that Mr Fletcher had been recently working in Queensland?

    • karol 7.1

      Yes, he was. I left that bit out, but it is in the news articles.

      Fletcher will quit his post as the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland State’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and take over running the GSCB early next year, for five years.

      • xtasy 7.1.1

        Employment and Trade, yeah those are core areas that offer skills to lead a spy agency, for sure???!

        • handle 7.1.1.1

          Spying is also about corporate interests these days. Fletcher might be a good manager for the job, but why would Key tell porkies about the recruitment process if it was all above-board?

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.1

            Spying is also about corporate interests these days

            It always has been partly about commercial interests. And if you use facilities like gmail and facebook, consider everything you’ve ever entered as open access.

          • Ugly Truth 7.1.1.1.2

            Fletcher spent about three years as comptroller of the UK Intellectual Property Office. Copyright enforcement can be used as a cover for internet espionage.

    • Anne 7.2

      Further to ianmac’s comment:

      Watch Campbell Live tonight! In a brief excerpt I recognised an interviewee, Sir Bruce Ferguson.

      A former Air Force chief who became Chief of the Defence Services during Helen Clark’s era. He went on to become Director of the GCSB and – if my memory serves me correctly – followed that with a short stint as Director of the SIS. I think he retired before his term was complete.

      I knew Ferguson (slightly) when he was in the RNZAF. As a civilian on base, it was part of my job to give weather briefings. He came across to me as a man of honesty and integrity. Since that time nothing has happened to cause me to change my mind. Whatever he has to say it will be straight-forward and well worth listening to…

    • karol 7.3

      So a short list was drawn up. The candidates were notified, then one of them was notified to say not to come to interview because they’d chosen someone.

      Key says Rennie came to him with a shortlist but they weren’t up to scratch. Rennie wouldn’t recommend any of them. I thought if no applicants were suitable, the employers wouldn’t draw up a short list …. ?

      And on CL, when Key said he was totally happy with the process he was slightly shaking his head in contradiction…. some say that is a tell a person is lying.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    So, not only has Fletcher got an NZ background but he has been involved in overseas operations involving intellectual property, globalisation and business. He also was working for Turnbull in the period when he mislead the public about the UK’s decisions to go to war in Iraq. There’s also the issue of intercepting UN communications.

    It appears that he can see immoral actions and not be bothered by them – the right background for helping to screw over NZ.

    • emergency mike 8.1

      Yep now it becomes clear that Key chose him for the job because of his proven immoral weasel experience.

  9. gobsmacked 9

    Bruce Ferguson’s interview on Campbell Live is one of the most damning indictments of a PM ever seen on NZ television. All the more so for being restrained, authoritative and to the point.

    It’s a must-see, and should lead to resignation(s) forthwith. Should, but I’m guessing, won’t.

    • karol 9.1

      Yes. the fact that Ferguson has come forward is significant. Plus he reports that morale at the GCSB is quite low right now, mainly due to the Dotcom case.

      Key says 4 candidates were short listed but, presumably after the candidates had been notified, Rennie went to Key and said the candidates weren’t up to it. So Ferguson’s contact was then told not to come to interview because a candidate had been chosen…. strange.

      • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1

        It’s all on.

        Let’s not forget that the report into the GCSB was handed to the PM a few days ago, and now we have a former head spilling the beans on the PM in public.

        Frankly, at this point, citizens are fucked if they know what to think. It’s an omnishambles, fucked that it was allowed to get this bad.

        • andy (the other one) 9.1.1.1

          when insiders like Duncan Garner are calling it a major hit on Key’s credibility, it tells us mere mortals that shit has gone seriously sideways.

          I got the impression from the Ferguson interview that the convention of the past of high up old school military types running the GCSB had been shit canned by Key and his shoulder tap of Fletcher, putting NZ spy agency and our collective interests in harms way.

          Also from Ferguson, he looked ashamed and disgusted by the current ‘Omnishambles’..

          Drip, drip, drip…

          • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1.1.1

            Almost forces one to ask questions about why the recently appointed Mateparae was ‘promoted’ over to Government House doesn’t it?

            So soon after the DotCom raids, not that the PM knew anything about that of course, yet.

            All just a big co-inky-dink.

            • andy (the other one) 9.1.1.1.1.1

              promoted to a position where he only answers to the Queen, can’t answer questions because he works for House of Windsor…

              Not the highest court in NZ can make him testify, and Lizzy is least likely to ask questions next to Larry Williams…

              Be interested to know, does the GG become an automatic British citizen with diplomatic status??

              • karol

                This guy reckons that it is the responsibility of the Governor General to appoint the head of GCSB – which would mean Mataparae was the person to appoint Fletcher.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  It’s appointment on recommendation though, like with Ministers etc.

      • Anne 9.1.2

        Plus he reports that morale at the GCSB is quite low right now, mainly due to the Dotcom case.

        He followed that up by saying its the lowest it’s ever been.

        Ferguson chose his words carefully but he was obviously appalled and disgusted at the process that was followed. The whole mess tells me that Rennie was effectively told who to appoint to the position.

        Key thinks he owns this country!

        • Treetop 9.1.2.1

          The GCSB will probably spy on Ferguson to keep one step ahead of being exposed or having Key exposed.

          • karol 9.1.2.1.1

            But that would be illegal – Ferguson is an NZ resident/citizen, isn’t he?

            • Anne 9.1.2.1.1.1

              Ahh yes karol but there’s four other ‘eyes’ in the Echelon spy system – Australia, Britain, USA and Canada. Any one of them can do the spying with relative impunity. I mean I’m sure Warner Bros. will have already been in touch with the FBI, NSA, CIA whoever… 😎

            • Treetop 9.1.2.1.1.2

              Yes I know that spying would be illegal, it would not be the first time.

      • geoff 9.1.3

        mainly due to the Dotcom case.

        Is it just Dotcom or has the GCSB suffered the same cuts that all the other departments have?

        • karol 9.1.3.1

          Ferguson said it was mainly Dotcom but also the Fletcher case a bit too. He didn’t say anything about cuts.

          • geoff 9.1.3.1.1

            So many of the other government departments have had staff and funding cut, I would be suprised if the GCSB has been untouched. Speaking from personal experience, from my time at the MOH a few years ago, I can say that the process of cleaning out a department is, unsuprisingly, very harmful to morale.

            Look what happened to McCully after he tried to muck with MFAT. Those bureaucrats are connected and McCully had to retreat significantly. Perhaps Key will face a similar situation?

            • Arfamo 9.1.3.1.1.1

              The whole thing stinks. Ministers and Senior appointees to government departments have no loyalty to their staff. So staff are proving quite quick to reciprocate. Will be interesting to see if the GCSB winds up in the news a bit more often now.

      • Shane Gallagher 9.1.4

        That does not make sense to me… why would you shortlist people who were not up to the job? You only shortlist people you think are good enough. You would just re-advertise the position and get a bigger candidate pool if no-one was up to the criteria stated…

        • Colonial Weka 9.1.4.1

          The headhunters gave Rennie a list of people they thought were suitable. That’s what is being called teh shortlist. Rennie thought none of the names were suitable, and presumably didn’t want to interview them because of that.

          • karol 9.1.4.1.1

            But already at least one candidate seemed to know they had been shortlisted. Then this candidate was contacted and told they wouldn’t be interviewed, according to Ferguson.

            Key is trying to pass it off as though the process hadn’t got beyond a short list list of names drawn up by the agency. Actually, I think Rennie could have been involved in drawing up the shortlist. His statement from a few days ago says this:

            “The position of GCSB was advertised in May 2011. In addition, a recruitment consultant was appointed to assist me,” Mr Rennie said.

            “Mr Fletcher was interviewed by a selection panel in July 2011, chaired by me. The other members of the panel were Mr Maarten Wevers (now Sir Maarten), the Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Mr John McKinnon, the Secretary of Defence; and Ms Helene Quilter, a State Services Deputy Commissioner.”

            Why did he omit to mention the recruitment consultant drew up the shortlist list?

            There seems to be some fudging going on.

        • Blue 9.1.4.2

          It seems to be a product of the way Key views government agencies. The shortlist drawn up was no doubt composed of the usual suspects – the people who actually have the military experience that is the worldwide standard prerequisite for this type of role.

          The reason none of these candidates was considered ‘suitable’ (without even bothering to interview them) obviously stems from the fact that Key was looking for a manager, not a spook. (For ‘manager’ substitute ‘cost-cutting bureaucrat’).

          It’s quite an embarrassing spectacle, really, thinking about our ‘top spy boss’ communicating with other spy bosses around the world. They’re probably thinking ‘who the fuck is this guy?’ and wondering why they are dealing with a civilian paper pusher.

          • Yorick 9.1.4.2.1

            +1

            • Anne 9.1.4.2.1.1

              Exactly right Blue.

              Setting aside what we already know about him, there are two things about Key that have been revealed over this Dotcom/spy saga.

              1) His approach is so one eyed and immersed in a wheeler/dealer mindset that he is oblivious to other essential considerations. In this instance he doesn’t really understand the nature of the position and the kind of specialist qualities and experiences that are required for such a high tech/sensitive area. It may well be this Ian Fletcher comes with brilliant CVs and is very competent, but not in the sphere of activity commensurate with a govt. spy agency.

              2) He thinks he’s above the law of the land and doesn’t have to follow due processes, especially if it means he mightn’t get his own way. That these processes have been developed over many decades and are tried and true methods mean nothing to him. The spy agencies belong to him and he’ll do what he likes with them. The last PM who operated like that was Rob Muldoon and in the end it did him no good.

              I don’t know what’s going to happen over this affair, but full credit to Sir Bruce Fergusson for having the courage and tenacity to stand up and be counted.

      • xtasy 9.1.5

        Ferguson will soon be summonsed to answer to the PM, and agencies, I suppose, that is how dictators work, I think.

    • Colonial Weka 10.1

      The reporter Dan Hunter was interesting to watch. I don’t see much TV, is he who TV3 usually use? Loved the smirk.

      • xtasy 10.1.1

        He’s recently been doing more jobs for Campbell Live, and so far, I think much has been useful and good. I just wonder, where does this leave our “publicly owned” state media for independent reporting and asking the harder questions?!

  10. trcaey 11

    Is anyone suggesting that his IP experience was important because of the Dotcom investigation? Remind me of the dates again of his appointment and the timeline of the spying on Dotcom?

  11. Bob Tambling 12

    I would be well fucked off if I was on the short list and just heard the PM saying I wasn’t up to it. I would be even more fucked off that the PM then gets his mate appointed. who clearly isn’t (if the stories about morale are to be believed)
    Be really good to know who the four people were . I bet they regret they didn’t go to school with the right people..
    Be a great job though just think of all those emails and phones you could tap with no oversight
    or maybe a lot of oversight, thinking about it 🙂

    Jeez so many targets for Labour like shooting fish in a barrel, and yet…
    I bet Key goes up in the next round of polls

  12. Major stink 13

    Hello I am one of the persons who was on the shortlist. I believe that I was ‘unshortlisted’ because of a particular question on the application form

    Would I continue managing the spy that had been put in a “very high position ” in the NZ Labour Party. whose principal aim is to prevent Labour from being elected in the foreseeable future?

    I now know that this was a trick question and I should have answered “yes” instead of the no which was obviously the wrong answer.

    I guess to be the top spy you have to be devious and cunning . Thats why I then applied for the job as the race relations commissioner.
    I was obviously not devious enough this time around,as I didn’t get the job because apparently “I really didn’t have the knowledge ,experience and suitable sporting achievements”
    Where to now? Any suggestions?

  13. Major stink 14

    Dear John,
    How I hate to write
    Dear John
    I must let you know tonight
    that my love for you is gone
    so I’m sending you this song
    tonight I’m with another
    you went to school with his brother
    Dear John

  14. xtasy 15

    Just get rid of this democracy rubbish, we need order and obedience, now, right now.

    Judith or John, the agenda is set, for more ORDER.

    Bring in the stiff medicine and resolute hit troops, to “protect” us from disorder. That is most important. Democracy is making us ill, it is not good, same as human rights stuff. And the media better keep it up, they are doing a good job now, so says Hone Key and Judith, the next leader.

  15. Murray Olsen 16

    That CV says to me that Fletcher has been appointed to make sure the TPAA goes through without significant opposition. He has already shown that he has as much loyalty to our country as Key does. The unsuitable people probably believed in something outdated such as sovereignty.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      yeah this too.

    • Treetop 16.2

      Birds of a feather flock together. Throw in the TV 3 reporter (Hunter) that Cambell uses and those birds just might have their wings clipped.

  16. AmaKiwi 17

    Our top military spy has no investigative, military, or spying experience.

    We ask our soldiers to risk their lives for us. Then the PM gets a blind man guide them through the dark.

    The PM has intentionally put our military personal in danger.

    Main stream media (except TV3). Do any of you give a damn?

  17. joe90 18

    Bloody marvellous post Karol, thanks.

  18. Populuxe1 19

    His expertise is relevant to electronic espionage which is how most of it is carried out these days.

  19. Instauration 20

    Oh dear
    Mr Fletchers judgment has been questioned in April 2011;

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/sunday-mail/queenslands-buy-local-t-shirts-made-in-bangladesh-and-the-us/story-e6frep2f-1226040191601

    “I considered this to be misleading, and would serve only to compound the gross error of judgment.”

    And then the wrath of the Ombudsman’s report in November 2011;

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/row-over-claims-in-hendra-judgment/story-e6freoof-1226185213963

    He was probably quite pleased to escape the Sylvanic-Waters of Brisbane

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