The Key-Fletcher trail

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 am, April 11th, 2013 - 76 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, Ethics, film, grant robertson, International, internet, john key, slippery, Spying, telecommunications, trade - Tags: , , ,

I have been doing some digging to try to find answers to some questions raised by John Key’s role in the appointment of Ian Fletcher as chief of the GCSB.

Why did Key try to cover up the fact that he had intervened in the appointment process?

Why is he vague about when and where he had met up with Fletcher since their school days?

Why was Fletcher, lacking the usual military/intelligence background, appointed to the GCSB as a “change manager”?

Intellectual Property and Commerce

The evidence indicates that Key was interested in Fletcher’s background in intellectual property, and international trade and economics.

Any more recent suggestions that Key wanted Fletcher to give the GCSB a “shake up” are not supported as Key seems to have only recently been aware of illegal operations at the GCSB.  Further more, Key’s lax oversight of the GCSB indicates that he was not concerned about disorganisation or disarray at the department. (See also Selwyn Manning on the GCSB problems and the Kitteridge Report)

Fletcher’s management of his department in Queensland has come in for some criticism (as in my post last week), indicating that he was not appointed for having exceptionally good managerial skills.  The evidence seems to confirm Trotter’s claim that it is Fletcher’s background in intellectual copyright and commercial information that Key was most interested in.  John Key’s announcement of Fletcher’s appointment in 2011 do not mention his generic change management skills.  Key focuses on Fletcher’s expertise in international trade and commerce, explicitly mentioning his background in intellectual property.  Key then summarises Fletcher’s expertise:

“Mr Fletcher has extensive policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters. ….”  says Mr Key.

An interview of Fletcher conducted for his alumni at the INSEAD: “The Business School For the World”  (a kind of post grad school for experienced high flying business execs, where Fletcher did a course in 2005) provides some confirmation of Fletcher’s relevant experience in the operational and management of intellectual property and copyright piracy.   In the interview, Fletcher stress the growing importance intellectual property in relation to business in a globalised world.  He cites an example of a case in which his team worked closely with the police and local authories:

INSEAD: Have you encountered many counterfeit or piracy cases?

IF: Yes, we actually have an enforcement team in our office which includes a police officer. This team coordinates police work and works with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and with local authorities. One case that highlights their work involved a famous singer whose name I cannot mention for confidentiality reasons. Just before the singer was about to release a new recording, a physical copy was stolen. Due to the enforcement team’s diligent work, we found out where the recording was being kept whilst the thief was intending to sell it on the internet. The police officer in our enforcement team drove half-way across the country to recover the recording before it was sold and arrested the thief. We believe that the singer in question was saved from a substantial financial loss.

INSEAD: Are there standard IP regulations/procedures that exist on a global level?

IF: … The creation of an efficient global system for patent and trade mark protection, and improving the copyright system is a major challenge as ideas move very quickly in a globalised world. IP rights are territorial and can be extremely long to administer. One of the roles of the WIPO is to establish a forum for the development of new global intellectual property rules to comprehensively address the challenges of globalisation.

The Key-Fletcher Trail

I have not been able to establish when Key (and/or Iain Rennie) became aware of Fletcher’s interest in this area.  Key and Fletcher were working in London at the same time (Key for Merrill Lynch 1995-2001: Fletcher for various organisations).  By the end of 2001, Key had decided to return to NZ, and he was the successful candidate for Helensville in 2002.

When Grant Robertson recently asked in the House (of parliament) whether Key met with Fletcher while in London, Key’s answer was, not unusual for him, was vague and, suspiciously, immediately followed by a deflection (Question Time 27 March 2013):

Grant Robertson: … can he enlighten the House as to whether he has had further contact with Mr Fletcher since their school days, perhaps in London?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, I cannot recall particular occasions; I am sure I may well have done so. What I can say, if the member wants to know, is that my mother was best friends with Ian Fletcher’s mother. If that makes a conspiracy, fair enough.

The next day he was reported in the Dominion Post as having flatly denied any such meetings:

Key denies the pair were friends when they both worked in London. “From the best of my memory, from the age of about 18 to the age of about 48, so for 30 years, or three decades, I didn’t have any dinners or lunches or breakfasts with Ian Fletcher, nor do I actually recall actually seeing him in that time. So, I’m not a great and close friend of him.”

In recent years Key has shared “breakfasts” with Fletcher, in his previous role as director-general and chief executive of the Queensland State’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, he said.

Fletcher, on Campbell live on 9 April, is also vague about when he “cross paths” with Key in more recent years. The timing of the alleged renewal of their acquaintanceship is a little strange because it seems very condensed into a short period.  John Key (born Sept 1961) turned 48 in Sept 2009.  Fletcher left his job in England to work in the Queensland Department of Employment, Development and Innovation  in 2009).  There were opportunities for Key and Fletcher to “cross paths” in 2009.  Key visited Australia in August 2009.  Curiously, Rennie and Key claim Fletcher was on their radar for a possible NZ “public sector chief executive” role.

The most likely time for Key and Fletcher to meet up for some “dinners, lunches or breakfasts” would have been in the period including 10-11 March 2010, when it seems Fletcher attended a conference in Auckland.  Key was also in Auckland during those days, as listed in his diary which included an official visit to Counties-Manukau.

Fletcher was given funding to attend a convention on international investment in NZ in March 2010. The Annual Report 2009-2010, for Fletcher’s Queensland Department  on the bottom of page 207, lists Fletcher as having incurred a cost of $ 3592

To accompany the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade to the “Open for Business” New Zealand—Australia Forum and key trade and investment meetings in New Zealand.

The “Open Business” conference was held in Auckland on 10 and 11 March 2010. The NZ Trade and Enterprise Press Release for it states:

Investment specialists from the United States, China and Singapore are among the international speakers featuring at next month’s New Zealand-Australia Investment Forum in Auckland.International Investment Experts to Provide Insights at Auckland Forum

Investment specialists from the United States, China and Singapore are among the international speakers featuring at next month’s New Zealand-Australia Investment Forum in Auckland.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), in partnership with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), is hosting the forum from March 10-11. The event aims to bring together New Zealand and Australian companies seeking investment, corporate leaders from around the world, global investors, senior government officials, and academic opinion leaders.

The Programme for conference lists Bill English as first speaker. Gerry Brownlee also was a speaker, plus speakers and panelists from various NZ and Australian government departments plus some from relevant areas in the business/corporate world including IBM, NZ and Dell, Australia, and Phil O’Reilly.

So, it is Fletcher’s intellectual property and international trade experience that seems to have been his attraction for Key.  They may or may not have renewed there acquaintanceship before 2009, but, as Key knew of his background, they probably were moving through inter-connected networks prior to 2009.

Intellectual Property, the Hobbit and Dotcom

This is where the Fletcher issue links in with the Dotcom case. Yesterday, in the House, NZ First’s Andrew Williams raised questions about John Key’s meetings since 2010 with Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros and a director of the Motion Picture Association of America.  Tsujihara was photographed as being part of the Warners’-NZ government Hobbit talks in NZ as reported in the NZ Herald on 27 October in 2010.  As Andrew Williams states, it’s intriguing that Tsujihara has specific interests and expertise in relation to intellectual copyright, and that,

 on 28 October 2010 – a day after Mr Key met with Mr Tsujihara – the SIS lifted a hold on Kim Dotcom’s residency application.”

There is some evidence that it would be worth doing some further digging around the intersecting networks between Warners, Dotcom, Key, Fletcher etc, in relation to the moves by the elites to take control of the globalised world of intellectual property, and corporate and financial interests.  For instance, Tsujihara was appointed as one of the non-executive directors for the SCi Entertainment group plc, at the same time as Aaron Brown in June 2008.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Global Maze

Aaron Brown worked at Merrill Lynch in London and New York (1996-2002), at the same time as John Key worked for Merrill lynch in London.  Brown has been implicated, but not found guilty of dodgy dealings in relation to his partnership with  Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, “billionaire property moguls”.  The brothers were arrest in 2011 in relation to investigations by the US Serious Fraud Office and the collapse of an Icelandic bank in 2008.   Brown’s interests are more in interactive gaming than property. The Simon Watkins’ article says:

Robert Tchenguiz’s two right-hand men, Aaron Brown and Tim Smalley, were also questioned. Brown has declined to comment, but Smalley denied that he was formally arrested.

American-born Brown began his career as a corporate lawyer and later worked at investment bank Merrill Lynch. He first teamed up with Robert Tchenguiz in 2004 to buy 200 pubs  –  long since sold.

At this point I felt like I had disappeared down a rabbit hole into the global money maze, of ethically dodgy, sometimes illegal, wheelings-and-dealings that favour the wealthy and powerful.

Such networks may or may not be inter-related to the Key-Fletcher-Dotcom-Hobbit complex – hard to tell at this stage.  however, if Key didn’t ac so suspiciously with his memory lapses, diversions and questionable dealings, there wouldn’t be an incentive to dig further.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

76 comments on “The Key-Fletcher trail”

  1. r0b 1

    You’ve written recently in praise of investigative journalism, and now you’ve started out on a project of your own! I look forward to the next installment…

    • lprent 1.1

      Likewise – wow!

      • karol 1.1.1

        Thanks, guys. I thought it was a bit info-intensive and long for a post, and ended with a further line of enquiry to follow. But I thought it was already long enough, and included stuff that needed to be out there, as part of the bigger picture, so it can be referred to in future – possibly in less dense and shorter posts.

        • McFlock 1.1.1.1

          Quite spectacular!

        • AmaKiwi 1.1.1.2

          Karol, I am pleased to inform you that you are a candidate for the Nicky Hager Investigative Journalism award.

          • Tigger 1.1.1.2.1

            More praise, Karol this is not just fascinating, it is utterly invaluable. Info heavy yes but that is a compliment, full of facts yet easy to read and digest.

            I hold hope that this may finally be the issue that sinks our PM. So much smoke here. If and when the fire is uncovered our leader may find himself burning.

        • Chris 1.1.1.3

          Please keep digging.Where there’s a key theirs a lie.

    • veutoviper 1.2

      And also my thanks, Karol, for an excellent piece of investigative journalism – better than most of the MSM.

      I had on my to do list to delve further into the Key/Fletcher timelines etc, but other commitments haven’t allowed this – so you have done this for me and provided a lot of very good links to boot.

      The waters just keep getting murkier and murkier. Next week could be very interesting with Dotcom back in the Auckland High Court on Monday at 10am and his mentions of his “White Paper” on his Twitter site.

      But need to get ready to watch another intriguing Question Time in the House. Robertson’s question on the Ministerial warrant signed by English last August should be interesting if English is again answering on Key’s behalf!

  2. ianmac 2

    Impressive stuff Karol. Read it all with interest. The Questions is the Answer, and Connectivity is the glue in Investigative Journalism.
    Anyway good stuff.

    • karol 2.1

      ianmac, I think in the relevant issues, it’s as important to attend to the networks (Connectivity as you say) as much as to one-to-one meet-ups. Some of us have been trying to work out when, in recent years, Key and Fletcher regained contact.

      Key’s answer to Robertson as to whether he had met with Fletcher in London was vague and suggested evasion and not wanting to commit himself on the record. The next day Key is reported in the media as being certain they hadn’t had formal meet-ups (dinners etc), but, he doesn’t “recall” ever seeing him at that time.

      It’s possible they had mutual acquaintances who mentioned each other, or that they attended the same events where they exchanged a few words. Ditto with Key’s other connections within some significant networks.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1.1

        It’s also possible that they met frequently but unofficially, and knowing there’s no record, Key feels no need to provide details.

  3. joe90 3

    Great post Karol, shake the tree – see who falls out.

  4. TheContrarian 4

    Good summary of facts. Looking forward to seeing how far down the rabbit hole this goes.

  5. One Anonymous Knucklehead 5

    There are no coincidences, only patterns. Whether this is a pattern of design, or incompetence and stupidity, remains to be seen. Great post Karol. I seem to be saying that a lot lately.

    • karol 5.1

      I think some of the “neoliberal” elite “patterns” are the evidence of loose networks of planned and unplanned interactions between people with similar values and aims.

  6. Treetop 6

    What is the difference between Dotcom and the 88?

    1. GCSB did not think that Dotcom was a permanent resident.
    2. Dotcom was arrested.
    3. There was footage of the raid.
    4. Dotcom is accused of copyright violations.
    5. Dotcom is to be extradited.

    I have come to the conclusion that even if the GCSB knew about Dotcom’s permanent residency status the GCSB still would have spied on Dotcom like they did for the SIS and police concerning the other 88 people.

    So I draw the conclusion that Key knew about the botch up in July 2012 re the GCSB spying on 88 people and he did nothing to remedy this at the time and the minute Key becomes aware of Dotcom being illegally spied on (two months later than the 88) Key reprimands GCSB and publicly apologises.

    • Tim 6.1

      “I have come to the conclusion that even if the GCSB knew about Dotcom’s permanent residency status the GCSB still would have spied on Dotcom like they did for the SIS and police concerning the other 88 people.”
      You’re not wrong TT.
      Buchanan summed it up beautifully when he remarked somewhere on the MSM (sorry for the lack of link – I can;t actually be bothered with most of it), when he described how the overseers (I mean in general) can get held ‘CAPTIVE’ .
      I have a relative – actually plural – that were/are/have been spooks. Intermittent though our meetings were – the most pertinent utterance from him/her was that ‘blood is thicker than water”
      Of the 80 something…… there are the obvious candidates.
      It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of the Murry Party vote though when shush comes to pufff and Wonder Boy’s legislation to ‘RECTIFY’ things hit the debating chanber.

  7. Anne 7

    Great post Karol. I seem to be saying that a lot lately.

    Me too. Incredible work karol.

    There are no coincidences, only patterns.

    There may be the odd coincidence intermixed, but the overall pattern is one of a planned conspiracy on a major scale. Key, Joyce, Fletcher and co. are just the local cogs in the global corporate machine.

    (Now watch the RWNJ’s swoop in at the mention of the unmentionable word beginning with c.)

    Edit: FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  8. JonL 8

    “….I look forward to the next installment…” as do I.
    Interesting stuff

  9. Mark 9

    Desperately digging but failing to find any evidence of anything fishy.
    Don’t give up your day job.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 9.1

      As the Auditor General says, Key has considerable latitude when making the appointment. It’s just that doesn’t explain why he perjured himself over it, lying to Parliament and the public.

      In light of the Prime Minister’s lies, there is bound to be speculation of this nature.

      PS: I feel for Fletcher: Key stains are very hard to get off.

    • Murray Olsen 9.2

      Mark: get a day job. Preferably one without internet access. I see plenty there that’s far more than fishy. Karol is doing great work, particularly bringing to light just how important intellectual property and copyright are to our “masters”, and the lengths of illegality they’ll go to to protect them.
      Anyone not worried is far more interested in property than anything intellectual. In good English, a pig rolling in shit.

  10. It would be interesting to know just how Kim Dot Com came to think of NZ as a place to live?

  11. Mark 11

    DotCon had heard about Shane Jones & Co, and how he could buy citizenship. He also heard he could get cheap tiling done. Mainly he heard there were a bunch of left wing fuckwits (as evidenced by The Standard) who would swallow all his bullshit. While the vast majority of Kiwis are starting to enjoy the fruits of good governance, sensible policy, economic & personal freedom etc, the serial failures remain consumed by hypocracy, envy & impotence, and desperately grasp at strawmen & hockeysticks. Hilarious.

    [lprent: Yep it is “hilarious”. The only thing you have done since the amnesty is troll. I can’t find one comment you have made that has any content worth reading. Obviously too stupid to learn and not worth wasting my time on. Banned again. ]

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.1

      Temper temper, sweety.

      There’s no need to throw your toys, all I’m asking is why it’s necessary for your Prime Minister to lie and lie and lie about his lies about it.

    • karol 11.2

      Tell that to the homeless, and people struggling to decide whether to pay the power bill, buy food, or necessary clothes for the kids.

    • McFlock 11.3

      Ah.
      Obviously you have no problem with the multitude of facts and linked sources that Karol provided. Otherwise you would have provided some fact-based rebuttals and counter-arguments rather than a delusional spittle-flecked rant.

    • georgecom 11.4

      “While the vast majority of Kiwis are starting to enjoy the fruits of good governance, sensible policy, economic & personal freedom etc”

      Roftl. Mark, please, no more, my sides are starting to hurt from laughter.

      The way you stated that with such a straight face would suggest you might be serious. But then you can’t be serious about such a load of BS, eh.

    • framu 11.5

      “While the vast majority of Kiwis are starting to enjoy the fruits of good governance, sensible policy, economic & personal freedom etc”

      i said this to walter the other day, but ill say it again to you mark

      Strange then that you support a govt that is centralising power, dismantling democratic representation (chch), bullying local govt, picking winners in the private sector, giving favours to foreign corporates, and running one of the most fiscally irresponsible economic platforms in recent history (remember debt has skyrocketed, new taxs, gst increases, unaffordable tax cuts, dodgy bailouts, dodgy financial rumors in CHCH)

      i know we like to call righties a bit thick, but you dont have to go and prove it now do you?

      Your shouting slogans from the kids table while the cousin you stick by is giving you a wedgie – its tragic and pathetic

  12. Huginn 12

    Thanks for this, Karol. Key has brought this on himself.

    The notion that the PM has subverted NZ law to spy on a NZ resident at the behest of a foreign interest is chilling. I would be interested to hear what Sir Geoffrey Palmer has to say about this, and also to hear what he might have to say about the role of the GCSB and its relationship with the Prime Minister in general.

  13. jim 13

    It is at the end of the day the P.M!s right to sanction the appointment.That said,the more important point “did he mislead the house! when questioned about “how well does he know Mr Fletcher,his response, my Mother was friends with their family, and i went to school with his brother.

  14. vto 14

    Why would Key go down this seemingly long path?

    • McFlock 14.1

      There is no assumption that he had this particular destination in mind when he started.

      • vto 14.1.1

        That’s right. So why would Key go down this seemingly long path?

        • McFlock 14.1.1.1

          Because he puts one foot in front of the other in whichever direction seems to be the easiest to go at the time, and this is how the chips fell.

          Easier to circulate with school friends in london rather than the colleagues you’re happily firing.
          Easier to do whatever the studio exec wants, rather than let the process handle itself
          Easier to hire a mate who you know is on the same page, rather than follow an unbiased recruitment process in the public service.
          Easier to lie about it and deflect when someone in parliament says it looks dodge.
          Easier to pretend he hired a “change manager” than admit he hired an IP gun to keep the corporations happy.

          • vto 14.1.1.1.1

            “Because he puts one foot in front of the other in whichever direction seems to be the easiest to go at the time, and this is how the chips fell.”

            Except that he doesn’t. One of the things about his own described childhood is how he runs long long term plans. He himself says that he learnt how to play golf because of the place it has in the networks world and in his aim of becoming PM.

            He is surely many things but an egg, in this context, he is not. The wheels have fallen off his carefully crafted long term plan (as they do with duplicity). Methinks he is more pissed off now than he has ever been.

          • Murray Olsen 14.1.1.1.2

            People are nothing if not contradictory. I think it could be entirely plausible that Key had a long term plan to get himself to the top, but once there, suffered from such an overblown ego that he thinks his farts are perfume.
            As PM, his planning seems to involve threatening something way over the top, and then retreating a little to make the previously unthinkable look like compromise. His carelessness and lack of planning shows up in the details, where the devil hides. Once he’s finished with Thatcher, let’s hope he comes and takes a few bites out of Key’s bum. I’ll lend him a knife and fork.
            I don’t see a total contradiction between what McFlock and vto are saying.

            • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1.2.1

              People are nothing if not contradictory. I think it could be entirely plausible that Key had a long term plan to get himself to the top, but once there,

              it may very well be that Key had a long term plan to get power but none around what to do with it.

              So he ad libs, tries on a few larks (royal weddings etc), and goes back to what he does know from the habits of a life time – cutting sweetheart deals with monied mates and corporates.

            • McFlock 14.1.1.1.2.2

              I’ll go along with that, murray.

              I think it’s highly likely that as a young man key had fairly clear objectives and achieved them over twenty years. Now he just seems to muddle from half-arsed response to half-arsed response, while taking every available opportunity to tick items off his bucket list.

    • BLiP 14.2

      Brand maintenance. GCSB is his personal ministerial responsibility. Look at all the other National Ltd™ fuck ups – ACC, Education, Police, Health, Conservation, inter alia – and there’s John Key backing up his ministers, issuing soothing statements that its all under control and he maintains confidence that while there have been some hiccups caused by the churn of change, keep calm and carry on. Then, when its his area where the fuck up is . . . where’s John? Gone. Look at how the BMW saga was spun . . . suddenly is not Ministerial Services ,its Internal Affairs, its not John Key backing down, its the government.

      Thing is – damage John Key and you damage National Ltd™ because he’s the only thing they got going for it. As it happens, IMHO, John Key’s value is actually quite flimsy because its emotional rather than rational. Get the public to fear or distrust or dislike the man and National Ltd™ is shot.

      EDIT: Ooops – meant to be reply to vto.

      • karol 14.2.1

        Actually, I think Key’s role goes deeper than that. We underestimate him at our peril. See Trotter’s analysis of the Kitteridge Report and it’s implications, just up.

        Under Key, various sections of the “intelligence community” have been organisationally integrated, with him being in sole control. It’s a scary picture.

        I disagree with Trotter, only on the matter of pursuing information the likes of Fletcher. It’s all part of the weft and weave of the bigger picture – pull one or two threads and see how much unravels. However, it’s also important to not lose sight of the bigger picture – and many of us already feel that Key’s hurried plans for changing the laws around the GCSB and SIS are a big concern.

        • BLiP 14.2.1.1

          Ahhhh . . . classic National Ltd™: what its up to is never as it frst appears and its always worse than you think. I’d better see if I can get past that review’s Executive Summary. Good to see Trotter ringing the alarm bells. Thanks for the link.

        • ianmac 14.2.1.2

          Another crikey moment for me this time from Mr Trotter! We thought the concern was just the GCSB and the SIS but there is a whole huge iceberg under water at the behest of the one and only John Key and is it mandated by Parliament, or not?

  15. BLiP 15

    Great work, thanks karol. This whole John Key/Fletcher/GCSB/DotCom caper definitely fails the smell test. Keep digging.

    I think what we are looking at here is something of collision between real public service, as per the protection of the state by the military and its intelligence gathering operations, on the one hand, and Planet Key and the other where there is no government, only benevolent corporations.

    Hamish Cardwell over at Scoop has compiled a time-line based on the affadvits presented at the Kim DotCom trial. According to Detective Inspector Grant Womald, a GCSB representative told him at a meeting on 14 December 2011 that it was illegal for GCSB to intercept the communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. The meeting is discussed in detail starting from paragraph 18 of Wormwald’s affadavit.. The difficulty here, though, is that it is Grant Wormald’s word and the affadavit was written *after* the shit hit the fan. Wormwald didn’t exactly demonstrate a firm commitment to truth when testifying in the Kim DotCom case earlier, and nor does his previous track record indicate much adherence to veracity or the sanctity of the courts, let alone professionalism.

    If, however, what Wormald said is true, the application of Occams Razor might lead to the conclusion that the illegal spying on New Zealanders by GCSB has been a “dirty little secret” for years. Provided the illegal spying remained secret, there was no need to have the law changed. To do so would alert possible targets and mean having to endure the fuss and palava such a change would undoubtably raise, as well as run the risk of having effective oversight being put in place. Can’t have that. The know-best, patriachal mandarins could quietly give each other the wink and get the job done without having to startle or otherwise worry the somnambulant proles, who wouldn’t understand anyway. How the spies must have chuckled at telling John Key everything and watching as the details sailed over his blithe head. Show off some gadgets, give him a cup tea, a chance to show the staff what a “nice man” he is, and then send him back across the road to the Beehive none the wiser.

    Still, while smiling and waving at the GCSB, John Key would have been thinking about what he considers the real game. Shortly after coming into power, National Ltd™ queitly seeded the entire public service with lots of “little” Fletchers. Their job was to identify the ways and means by which the functioning of the state could be shifted to the private sector. MoBIE is Stage II of that process. The GCSB, though, is a slightly different public service in that it is a small, albeit important, outpost of western imperialism and capitalism. Its functions are, ostensibly to look after New Zealand, but, by far, the bulk of its product goes directly to serve US and UK interests. Fletcher proved he could keep a secret when he was on the inside of the UK government’s manufacturing of consent to join the US in Iraq, proved he had no qualms about lying to the public in Queensland, and is undoubtably a lifelong aquantance, if not mate, of John Key. How unlikely is it that shortly after getting the GCSB job, Fletcher tipped John Key off that the illegal spying was about to be raised in the courts and now would be a good time to go watch a baseball game in the states?

    Heh! ‘Cept that Ministerial Certificate was trumped by our justice system. Or what’s left of it.

    • Anne 15.1

      How unlikely is it that shortly after getting the GCSB job, Fletcher tipped John Key off that the illegal spying was about to be raised in the courts and now would be a good time to go watch a baseball game in the states?

      And then those dammed soldiers went and got themselves killed in Afghanistan. That threw the cat among the pigeons didn’t it.

  16. ghostwhowalksnz 16

    Of course English had a previous ‘ministerial certificate’ , the one that said he didnt have a beneficial ownership of the house he lived in, so it was Ok for the taxpayers to pay him to live there.

    of course the auditor general- who was at the time , one of the old school say it like it is- threw that in the wastepaper basket of Englishs failed dreams.

    Would be interesting to know what the official ‘advice’ was from GCSB over that was.

  17. TruthSeeker 17

    An excellent post.

    The PM has chosen his words very carefully when talking about his knowledge of Kim Dotcom. Notice how he has always stressed the name ‘Dotcom’.

    See this for example: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QWA/2/0/d/QWA_09404_2012-9404-2012-Rt-Hon-Winston-Peters-to-the-Prime-Minister.htm

    Key basically admits that he knew of Dotcom before 19 Jan 2012 – just not as ‘Dotcom’ and not in his capacity as PM.

    In fact, Immigration NZ referred to Dotcom as ‘Kim Vestor’. This is almost certainly the name by which the SIS knew him. Key met the SIS on 12 October 2010. A day later, they put a hold on his residency application citing FBI interest.

    That’s the Key/Dotcom link which Labour seems to be overlooking. Maybe there is a good reason for that. But it seems pretty obvious to me – and it seems that is where Peters and NZF are going.

  18. Fletcher, on Campbell live on 9 April, is also vague about when he “cross paths” with Key in more recent years. The timing of the alleged renewal of their acquaintanceship is a little strange because it seems very condensed into a short period. John Key (born Sept 1961) turned 48 in Sept 2009. Fletcher left his job in England to work in the Queensland Department of Employment, Development and Innovation in 2009). There were opportunities for Key and Fletcher to “cross paths” in 2009. Key visited Australia in August 2009. Curiously, Rennie and Key claim Fletcher was on their radar for a possible NZ “public sector chief executive” role.

    This point in the saga has always bothered me – we need key to disclose the dates here because there is something not right about this bit and their supposed lack of contact. Key and Rennie were discussing Fletcher in 2009 for a job, any job at the top. That can’t have come out of nowhere.

    • karol 18.1

      Yes, marty, that’s one of the puzzles that spurred me to look further. It may be that Fletcher and Key did not have any significant contact before 2009, but that they were moving in some of the same circles, and Key had been hearing about him – also helped by the fact that Key would remember it because he knew him from his school days.

      Key maybe had him earmarked for an NZ public sector job, especially as Fetcher’s background involves intellectual property, commerce and globalisation – something that Key seems very interested in. Part of him getting his kind of people into key (can’t avoid the pun) jobs.

      In spite of all his other evasions and vagueness, Key has admitted to contacts with Fletcher specifically from about 2009, and said that this involved meals etc. And Key has explicitly said this was in some way connected with Fletcher’s job in Queensland. So, it is very likely that Key met up with Fletcher while he was in Aussie towards the end of 2009. I feel it is almost certain that Key would have met with Fletcher when he was in Auckland for the conference in March 2010.

      Then by the end of 2010, Key is linking up with a top Warner’s exec, also into intellectual property…. and on it goes… til some time near the Dotcom surveillance period, Key moves quickly to get Fletcher a job at the GCSB.

      I think Key is probably very much into networking with like-minded people (as indicated by the mention up thread of him learning to play golf to get in with the “right” people). So it just maybe that Fletcher was part of Key’s extended network of the wealthy and powerful, with similar interests.

  19. dumrse 19

    The AG (Helen’s appointment remember) has no interest in the appointment of Fletcher. However, what is significant is the determination that the PM is quite entitled to be involved in the appointment process. So, lets spend thousands of hours on this and see if we can establish if Key and Fletcher had spoken to each other in the last 2-3 decades. And, lets make sure if one or the other cant remember what they did 20 years ago, lets fucking hang them. If the Labour Party and its leadership take their leads and advice from this blog site then its state of disarray comes as no surprise.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Who cares how well Key and Fletcher actually know each other.

      It’s the fact that Key and his associates saw fit to lie about it on record, several times, which is of the real interest now.

      If the Labour Party and its leadership take their leads and advice from this blog site then its state of disarray comes as no surprise.

      Stay up to date mate. The Labour Leadership has already said that it thinks blog sites and online commentators are completely irrelevant 😈

    • framu 19.2

      “lets spend thousands of hours on this and see if we can establish if Key and Fletcher had spoken to each other in the last 2-3 decades”

      theres no need to – key has already admitted they had breakfast together several times. (after claiming he didnt really know him of course)

    • felix 19.3

      “The AG (Helen’s appointment remember) has no interest in the appointment of Fletcher. However, what is significant is the determination that the PM is quite entitled to be involved in the appointment process. “

      Exactly dumrse, there’s nothing unusual about any of that.

      And that’s why it’s so weird for Key to lie about it.

    • Pascal's bookie 19.4

      Jeez dumrse.

      Read what the OAG said. Closely.

      Did the OAG say there no issues or questions to be answered? (HINT: The answer is “no”)

      Who did she say should be answering the questions (HINT: You will need to use your Brainz just a little bit, but the Greens talking about something called a ‘committee’ at the moment is a clue).

  20. Pete 20

    My question is whether we should have faith in the Governor General. Did he oversee illegal activity in his tenure at the GCSB?

  21. woodpecker 21

    Spies, Lies and Alibis. I wonder if PJ will direct it?

  22. Epping Road 22

    What a load of tenuous nonsense. Karol’s argument is “both Key and Fletcher were in London at the same time, even though they were doing very different things. They might have met. When Fletcher came to Auckland to attend a conference, Key, although he was not at the conference, might have met Fletcher then. When Fletcher was in Australia, Key also occasionally went to Australia. They might have met then.”

    You get an F for silly conspiracies Karol. For it to be at all persuasive you have to prove that 1) there were actual meetings 2) they discussed Fletcher taking over the spy agency 3) Key knew about dotcom in advance 4) Fletcher was installed to go after dotcom 5) Rennie, McKinnon, Quilter and Sir Maarten are all lying in unison to protect Key. And despite all those things, that Key would risk his whole political career by somehow forcing them to lie.

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      Oh don’t be so pedantic, Karol’s still orientating the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle for fit and colour. It’s not quite time to put it together yet.

  23. karol 23

    You’re kind of missing the point ER. This is just a small piece in a much bigger puzzle. Key was clearly covering up something. If he was more honest and less evasive and manipulative, and if our MSM were more vigilant, some of us wouldn’t feel motivated to go digging around to find some answers to significant questions.

    I don’t think there is evidence of a carefully orchestrated conspiracy. It’s more doing some mapping of the networks of influence and the common aims of some central players.

    It’s not so much that people have explicitly told lies. It’s often what they haven’t said that is puzzling. Some of the people you mention are practiced diplomats.

    • Epping Road 23.1

      Yes they are practised diplomats, with more than a century of public service between them. They have no reason to cover for a prime minister. Two of them are now retired, and don’t even owe the government of the day for their jobs.

      There is no evidence that “Key was covering up for something”. These are potentially issues of national security. No Prime Minister has ever gone into greater detail on issues of national security than was absolutely necessary. Key was asked a question in Parliament which he had no time to prepare for. It was an off the cuff response.

      Yes there are maps of influence, but that applies to all politicians everywhere. Do you think Helen Clark never knew any of the people she appointed to office? Do you think she was never in Australia when a significant subsequent government appointee was?

      There is no evidence of a significant relationship existing at any point between Key and Fletcher. That is a fact, and anything else is just grasping at straws.

      • Colonial Viper 23.1.1

        Yes there are maps of influence, but that applies to all politicians everywhere. Do you think Helen Clark never knew any of the people she appointed to office? Do you think she was never in Australia when a significant subsequent government appointee was?

        There is no evidence of a significant relationship existing at any point between Key and Fletcher. That is a fact, and anything else is just grasping at straws.

        First you suggest that like Clark, Key appointed someone he knew to the position. Someone he liked so much that all others on the short list were cut.

        Then you say there is no evidence of a significant relationship with Key.

        So, which is it?

        There is no evidence that “Key was covering up for something”. These are potentially issues of national security.

        National security issues in Fletcher’s recruitment process? What issues of national security might they be?

        Do tell more.

        • Epping Road 23.1.1.1

          Key told Rennie that he knew Fletcher. There is no evidence that it was a significant relationship. There is no evidence from anybody that Key rejected the shortlist with anybody else in mind. All the evidence says that the shortlist was cut before Fletcher was ever asked to consider the job. Keep making it up as you go along though viper.

          There are always national security issues involved with answering any questions on one of the security agencies in parliament. That is why Clark never answered any questions on any of the security agencies ever. If you want to know where the lack of oversight and accountability lies, then you only have to look at the Helen Clark government that set them up.

          • Colonial Viper 23.1.1.1.1

            Yes, I certainly am making it up as I go along.

            So is Key – and that is clear for all to observe.

            The problem you have is your assertion that there is “no evidence”. The thing is, we’ve barely scratched the surface. And I’m comfortable betting that where there is smoke, there is fire. How about you?

            There are always national security issues involved with answering any questions on one of the security agencies in parliament.

            I’m sorry, but this is not carte blanche for the illegal operations carried out and deterioration of standards and morale of the GCSB under Key’s Ministerial watch.

            The people responsible need to be identified, fired, and criminal investigations conducted.

            I hope you don’t give John Key an easy pass on this mate. That would be most unbecoming.

            • Epping Road 23.1.1.1.1.1

              If you want to make things up you should at least keep up with the news. The illegalities at GCSB have been happening for years. It was under Key’s watch that they were identified, investigated, admitted to and stopped. When did Helen Clark, the last minister responsible, show any interest in investigating whether GCSB’s activities were illegal? Oh that’s right, she didn’t. When did she last stand up in Parliament and talk about the GCSB? Oh that’s right every time she did stand up in Parliament it was to say no comment.

              I hope you’re not giving Helen Clark and her key advisors an easy pass on this mate. That would be unbecoming.

              • felix

                Simple question for you: Would you prefer that these questions stopped being asked? Or would you prefer that the questioning continue?

                Bear in mind that there’s nothing to see here, so the longer the questioning goes on the sillier and more unelectable the questioners look, and the better John Key comes out of it.

                Surely this is the outcome you’d like.

                • Epping Road

                  I think that the fact that the GCSB may have been acting unlawfully for so long is very disturbing indeed and along with the many other issues identified by Rebecca Kitteridge, shows an organisation that is deeply broken. Kitteridge’s report clearly vindicates Rennie’s view that an outsider was necessary to fix the GCSB’s many problems. The lack of political accountability for GCSB’s actions is a long standing one. The easy route for Key to take would have been what his predecessors did and refuse to answer any questions on it. Instead he showed a firm commitment to fixing the problems.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Who gives a fuck about “a commitment to fixing problems”

                    If you are serious about what you are spouting, let’s see some criminal investigations started and an assessment if charges need to be laid.

                    You reckon Helen Clark is just as responsible as John Key? Fine, both need to be asked questions by investigators.

                    Responsibility starts with accountability mate.

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    There’s a German elephant in the room. Key isn’t doing this because it’s the right thing to do. He’s doing it because the crown acted illegally and got caught.

                    Besides, as the Kitteridge report makes clear, the GCSB is the least of our worries. There have been significant changes made to the whole State Security apparatus under Key’s watch.

              • framu

                hold on a minute “It was under Key’s watch that they were identified,”

                your trying to claim that Key should get the credit for this being identified arent you

              • Pascal's bookie

                It was under Key’s watch that they were identified, investigated, admitted to and stopped.

                It was under Key’s watch that they were identified, ignored, batted away, covered up with spurious legal reasoning, attempted to be suppressed while the PM was overseas watching a game of rounders, exposed in court, investigated, partially admitted to while lying about some others, exposed again, covered in a thickly sickly blanket of ‘but but but but laaaaaabour’, and planning commenced to pass legislation to make it all legal going forward; more like.

      • framu 23.1.2

        “There is no evidence that “Key was covering up for something”

        Well – except for Keys repeated lying about the issue.

  24. marsman 24

    You are a treasure Karol, great work!

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