“Not to the best of my knowledge – that is absolutely correct – I wasn’t even aware these emails existed until I heard about them yesterday” a flustered Key said in Parliament today in response to another question from Grant Robertson about the Radio Live PM’s Hour – watch it here. I wasn’t aware
Key steadfastly denied yesterday that his office had anything to do with the programme’s control, particularly stressing that “to the best of his knowledge” he did not know that his Communications Manager had anything to do with writing the late approach to the Electoral Commission for an opinion on the show’s legality, sent in Radio Live’s name.
He can’t have talked to his Chief of Staff. Wayne Eagleson wrote thus to Peter Radich, Chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Authority:
Radio Live made it clear that the show was neither an election advertisement nor an election programme, and that the show would be editorial material. They approved the show’s content and provided a detailed written brief that made it clear that the Prime Minister must not tell listeners who to vote for. Following a suggestion from this office, they sought and obtained advice from the Electoral Commission.PM response to RadioWorks complaint
Key’s office were donkey deep in planning the programme. They knew they were skating close to the wind. It was “useful” that the Electoral Commission’s advice appeared to put the onus for any breach of the law on the broadcaster. If Key expects Parliament to believe that his Chief of Staff did not brief him on any of this, and he only found out about it yesterday, he’s in la-la land.
Also if he thinks this is just a matter between the broadcaster and the Electoral Commission, he’s also mistaken. This issue has a way to run yet. Watch this space.