I honestly do not know where to start … if the release of Dirty Politics was devastating then the revelations from yesterday are mind blowing.
The release of the Cameron Slater email by John Key and the effective sacking of Judith Collins as a Minister marks a crisis point for National. Clearly they were in damage minimisation mode yesterday. The disclosure of the email raises many, many questions.
It appears that the Sunday Star Times was writing a story on Mark Hotchin’s links through Carrick Graham to a number of Whaleoil articles attacking then SFO Chief Adam Feeley and others. Hotchin was being investigated by the SFO and the Financial Markets Authority over his role in the Hanover collapse in 2008 which robbed many Kiwis of their retirement savings. As part of his campaign it appears that Slater had been paid to write these articles.
The reporter asked questions which led the parties involved to realise that information concerning the attack had been obtained from Whaledump. Cathy Odgers was asked for the “smoking gun”, sent that email to a staffer and then Key had to act. The Herald got to break the story and Key got to front foot the issue. They had no alternative. The fresh release of the information by the SST on Sunday would have been devastating. Key had to cauterise what was by then a gaping wound.
The “smoking gun” email detailed how Slater was briefing a number of journalists, including this reporter, about the anti-Feeley campaign.
Slater wrote: “I spoke at length with the Minister responsible today (Judith Collins). She is gunning for Feeley. Any information that we can provide her on his background is appreciated.”
Slater said yesterday the line about Collins gunning for Feeley wasn’t a lie, but “embellishing is a good word”.
The new documents appear to show PR consultant Graham paid Slater and Odgers to write dozens of posts attacking regulators and a possible witness.
In one email, Odgers said: “Remind him [Hotchin] he pays cam n I to f— w FMA so he can focus on important things.”
Another email appears to discuss plans to undermine the credibility of a potential witness in the Hanover investigation, property developer Tony Gapes.
Graham wrote in one email: “Just off ph to MH . . . Seems our friend Tony Gapes is thinking he’s a bit of a star witness for the SFO against our man.”
He added that Gapes “should have some sunlight shone on him. Enough to raise questions of credibility with the SFO”.
This issue shows the Herald and the National Party in a really, really bad light. The degree of cooperation between the two in the attacking of another innocent public servant is really disturbing. There is a degree of joint planning that is really disturbing.
And how is this for an unfortunate coincidence (ht Karol) that Oravida’s chief Stone Shi bought Mark Hotchin’s Paratai Drive palace. How weird is that?
Cameron Slater has reportedly laid a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner about the release of his email. Good luck with that Cameron. It is good to see that you now realise the importance of issues concerning privacy. Of course you believe that your work is perfectly legitimate and that you have been sinned against by a left wing conspiracy. But as Adam Feeley has noted there is a great deal of Karma in what has happened.
There will need to be an investigation into the matter. I think that the police should be the ones involved. Running paid smear campaigns with the help of the Minister of Justice against a public servant with the aim of persuading him not to prosecute someone and smearing potential witnesses with the intent of discrediting him should not happen here.