Who were the Nat leakers?

Written By: - Date published: 2:09 pm, March 9th, 2010 - 40 comments
Categories: bill english, john key, national - Tags: , , , , ,

Michael is dead right. The most important thing about the Hollow Men is not how Nicky Hager got the information but what the information is. It reveals National’s modern politics in all its unprincipled ugliness. It shows National as a party that wants power for its own sake and will use any of the dirty tricks in the Crosby-Textor handbook to get there.

Nonetheless, which Nats gave Hager the information is a subject of legitimate interest. People high in National’s ranks were prepared to deal with the enemy to hurt their party and destroy their leader. Public knowledge of who that is would be hugely damaging for the Government because some very senior figures would be exposed as traitors (albeit, noble traitors whose actions shed light on some very dodgy and dishonest, even corrupt, practices).

So here’s some wild speculation. In the spirit of John Key, I can’t back any of this up with solid evidence. It’s just my ideas:

The clues:
In the preface to Hollow Men, Nicky Hager thanks the six figures in and near National who gave him most of his material. He dedicated the book to the “principled conservatives of the National Party”. When asked if the leakers were still involved in politics, Hager said “yes“.

John Key rejected that:

“I think the computer system was hacked into. That’s my view, but I can’t back that up,”

He had his own theory on who did it, but would not name anyone.

“This is not Agatha Christie’s whodunit. I just don’t know.”

He rejected suggestions the leaks came from disgruntled National Party insiders. “That’s a great sort of nonsense, sort of fiction put out by the Left. `Bollocks’ is another way of putting it, if you want.”

To which Hager responded:

“If anyone doesn’t believe the police now, well, they’re cranky and not to be taken seriously.”

He said it was incredibly undignified that Mr Key had come up with such a wacky idea that the emails had been hacked.

“Anybody who understands computers and things like hacking will know it is completely impossible. For John Key to be raising that now is really surprising. He’s obviously not taking an evidence-based approach … because there is no grounds for that.”

We have no reason to doubt Nicky Hager’s word: he has not been caught lying on anything to do with the Hollow Men and he is far from being an agent for Labour. In contrast, we have every reason to doubt Key’s word: he has no evidence to back his claims that it was some outsider, he has every reason in the world to not want senior National figures revealed as Hager’s sources, and his response is irrational and angry.

Moreover, the only plausible way for this information to get into Hager’s hands was from insiders who were in authorised possession of the material leaking to him. David Farrar’s stupid last ditch ruse, that someone could have broken into Brash’s office and copied the emails on to a memory stick is laughable. That person would have had to get past a security door, past the office staff, and past the password on the computer. And that still wouldn’t explain Hager’s non-email materials.

So leakers it is, but who?

The suspects:
John Key: opportunity and motive, yes. Key was the big winner from the Hollow Men. In 2006, he had been trying to tip Brash all year (apparently there had been a failed coup), then the Hollow Men comes out and Brash resigns (before it’s even released) leaving the way open for Key. And Key gets off relatively lightly in the book.

But Hager dedicated the book to “the principled conservatives in the National Party” and I don’t think anyone would call Key a principled anything. And, somehow, it just doesn’t strike me as Key’s style. Too much work. Too much personal risk. Plus, while there isn’t much detail on Key he is implicated in dodgy and dishonest behaviour, including his meeting with the Exclusive Brethren. It’s unlikely he’d put that out there himself if he intended to follow up the book’s release with a tilt at the leadership.

Bill English: motive and opportunity as well. English had good reason to want to see Brash go down. More importantly, English would have liked to see Brash lose in 2005 or toppled (with himself as obvious replacement). That could explain why Hager started getting the leaks in 2004. You’ll recall that there was an effort to get English in as leader when Brash resigned, but it didn’t get far.

Mary English: the Lady McBeth theory. Mary was on the same school board as Hager. She wouldn’t have had access to the papers herself but could have acted as a bridge between English and others on the inside to Hager.

Female Brash staffer: You’ll recall that Brash turned out to the world’s most unlikely Casanova. It seems that Brash though the Hollow Men was going to reveal his affair with Diane Foreman, which it didn’t. But why would he think that? The scuttlebutt has always been that Brash was having a second affair with a staffer in his office (whose name, if I recall correctly, comes up a couple of times in Hollow Men but whose role is never explained). When this staffer got wind of the Foreman affair she decided to leak to Hager. I find it a little hard to believe she could have done it all alone over two years, but if she had been recruited by English…

David Farrar: He is close to the English family and ran the numbers for English during the Brash coup. He thought he had them sown up too but then Key switched sides at the last minute. In the Hollow Men documentary, there’s video of Farrar and English at Backbenchers the night before the caucus vote celebrating their impending victory, which turned out to be Brash’s victory. Farrar worked in Brash’s office on IT. Bomber highlights some inconsistencies in his story here.

Others close to English: Hager refers to six people. So far, we have four likely suspects. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would have come to Hager independently of the others, so we’re looking for people close to English.

People like Nick Smith and Tony Ryall, English’s fellow brat packers, and experienced practitioners of the ‘dark arts’ that English had largely steered clear of until then.

Or Katherine Rich. She was close to English, and left mysteriously, and quickly, before the last election. What if Rich couldn’t handle the pressure, or even if she was caught out somehow and her position became untenable? They certainly wouldn’t release it to the media – and it would explain why she resigned for no apparent reason just as she was reaching the prime of her career.

So there’s my pick for the half dozen – Bill and Mary English, the female staffer, Farrar, and others like Rich, Smith, and Ryall. I see Whaleoil has a post up suggesting the same names: the Englishs, Farrar, and a ‘rogue staffer’.

What are your theories?

40 comments on “Who were the Nat leakers?”

  1. gitmo 1

    I suspect it was Lord Voldemort.

  2. Bored 2

    There is something rotten in the state of Denmark

  3. complicit corruption 3

    i like the pretty paper wrapping my cheeseburger
    but i eat the burger

  4. Yes to all of them but McCully’s and Joyce’s roles also need to be investigated.

  5. sweetd 5

    Col. Mustard with the candle stick in the library.

  6. Rob 6

    The Illuminati

  7. Oh god look at all the wingnuts.

    Feeling a bit sensitive are we? The issue is actually really important and goes to the heart of the quality of this current Government.

    Captcha: lied

    How appropriate.

  8. IrishBill 8

    I don’t think it would have been Farrar. English wouldn’t trust him not to boast about it and Hagar would be unlikely to deal with him given his reputation for unfounded smears.

    I also don’t think it would be Key for the reasons suggested.

    Mary was on the same school board as Hagar so there’s a social connection. Yep, I’m picking Mary and Bill. I wonder if Key knows who it was?

  9. the sprout 9

    nice work Marty.
    i agree the contents of those emails is very important, but the identity of the leaker is now a significant story for sure, especially considering the likely suspects.
    a VERY bad lose-lose look for National 😆

  10. cocamc 10

    I say, “who gives a shit”.. lets focus on some real problems for once.

    • Bright Red 10.1

      lolz. ‘don’t look says the tory, don’t look’.

      if you want to talk about ‘real issues’ why not comment on the post about wages?

      In fact, I think it says something that you came here to say you wanted to talk about real issues rather than commenting on real issues when you have the chance.

  11. I think English gained the most and probably was the most ambitious. Having stuffed up ( MR 23%) he would have wanted another go but needed to pick his time. I am picking having sunk Brash, that a deal was done eg If John is PM you can be Deputy PM and have finance. Remembering Englishes career was going no where (so it was a good option at the time) a bit like now really but the current situation pays better.

    This would explain the underlying resentment English has towards Key and the undermining of Key by English. Key then making English do public apologies ” oh sorry it was as John said, I got it wrong,”stuff like the 50million cycleway etc.

  12. BLiP 12

    Follow the money.

  13. Joel Walsham 13

    After reading the book, Rich is definitely portrayed as a “principled Conservative” compared to the rest, also the fact that she was one of the few that didn’t accept money from the Exclusive Brethren?

    I would say Rich… hmm or maybe Simon Power? Just putting it out there, he was also portrayed well and he didn’t take the money either…

    • Daveo 13.1

      Also, Simon Power is very close friends with Jon Johannsen, in fact Johannsen’s his closest confidant.

      You’ll recall Johannsen, a principled Tory, was virulently anti-Brash and wrote papers and spoke in the media against him.

      Power is also firmly in the English camp. It all starts to fall into place.

  14. Roflcopter 14

    The flash of emails you saw in the book was not a hack. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.

  15. tc 15

    The wingnuts are indeed nervous because their beloved lords in power can’t organise a piss up in a brewery let alone be an effective gov’t/run some consistent lines of subterfuge or to paraphrase an old saying…you can’t tell a single lie without aligning many others to make it look plausible.

    This is a critical issue as public office demands integrity and honesty (some ministers will have to look that up) and we pay them so the relevance couldn’t be more so……it’s not as if Blinglish/ Johnny clown etc have earned some benefit of the doubt….tranzrail shares/housing rorts/I want wages to drop etc etc,…….bring it on I say, the honest have nothing to fear.

    DPF must be exhausted from all this leaping to their defence he keeps doing….’hacked emails’ yet another airhead statement from the PM but that’s a banker for ya.

  16. Tiger Mountain 16

    Mr Farrar was just on RNZ seemingly lying his jowls off, the inbox material he opined could have been nabbed in 2-3 minute bursts during lunchbreaks from Brash assistant’s computers, for goodness sake…

    • toad 16.1

      Agreed, TM. I know of no flashdrive that will enable you to copy 60+MB, which is the size an MSOutlook mail file is likely to be, to it in 2-3 minutes.

      You can move that amount of data that fast via FTP, but can’t do it without leaving evidence of having done it behind.

      Mind you, I am a Luddite who may have not caught up with the technology, but I am sure that was the case back in 2004.

      • Lanthanide 16.1.1

        USB2.0 allowing speeds up to 480Mb/s was released in 2000. So by 2004 USB devices capable of copying 60MB in 180 seconds were theoretically available, disregarding the speed of the target device; flash drives available in 2004 that could hold 60+ MB wouldn’t have been cheap and would likely be slow, but external hard drives wouldn’t be impossible and would get decent speeds. The greater time constraint would have been navigating to the location to copy the file from, which could easily take 5-10 minutes to find, especially if it was stored on a network drive (likely).

        So there’s no technical reason why it couldn’t have been done onto a physical drive of some sort in a short period of time, but it’s not very practical.

        • lprent 16.1.1.1

          Two points.

          In 2004 it was uncommon to have too many USB2 ports, most machines then still only had USB1.1 except for the high end systems.

          Depends on how the files were stored. USB sticks are really slow at writing when there are a number of small files.

  17. tc 17

    Yes TM….sleep with dogs, wind up with fleas. It’d be second nature to DPF or he’ll lose his nat gravy train….I hope it runs and runs until the truth emerges…..to keep lying you need to keep sharp or be caught out…….mmmm my moneys on the truth.

  18. Anne 18

    a furious leader of the Nats who was ousted by Brash and Co.
    a vengeful wife of the leader of the Nats who was ousted by Brash and Co.
    a bunch of senior Nats (not all parliamentarians) angry their party had been hijacked by the extreme right.

    All very simple really.

  19. Anne 19

    and the irony is: the right wing agenda is happening anyway so it’s time for one of them to nark!

  20. Dan 20

    The irony is that they prevented a lurch to the right with Brash but are now allowing Wodney and friends to call the shots on Auckland, education, three strikes, tax rates, etc.
    I would agree with others the issue is not how the info got public but the details of how the NACT party works these days.

  21. D 21

    Female Staffer, yes!
    I encountered a female staffer speaking to Brash very much as if she was an extremely pissed off former lover… and like he was a silly little man.

  22. Bill 22

    Who were the Nat leakers?

    Aren’t they all essentially old white men with prostate issues?

  23. Bill 23

    Not sure.

  24. Pretty obvious all along that it was English. Think about it from the parties point of view, there is no way that they would risk the internal implosion of outing him that late in the electrol cycle. Waiting till after the election to out him would have been poisonous for their brand. Outing him now after so many police hours would be equally as bad.

    In realty it was only Brash pushing for continued investigation, as if names were going to be named, it had to come from the police, who are in no way part of the party.

    Brash has always been a better fit into act, but smart enough to chuck in his lot with national cause thats the only way to the top. Farrar, Key, every one else in National just has to keep playing the “we honestly don’t know” card to keep up appearances.

    But when Key was quizzed about it by the media at the press conferance the other day, that has to be the shiftiest he has ever looked.

  25. Steve 25

    Key knows who the plotters are and we have been basically told they’re still there and probably sleepers. So, Key takes them to and thru the next election (with support from Crosby Textor). The plotters are now feeling confident but can’t wait so tip Jonkey out about midway thru T2. The dark forces will be “outed” then either by themselves or the media will have worked it out.
    Nact, if not already a spent force, will start to implode and Lady MacBeth’s husband will croak for the 2nd time at a general election.

  26. Anne 26

    @ D
    It sounds as if you are aware of something. Can you not tell? If not here… someone appropriate?

  27. What I cant understand is Brash’s sucess with women.bloody Hell!The blokes a wimp but is outdoing Casanova.

    If I wasnt happily married I would be jealous .

  28. randal 28

    a few bucks will work on any of the screamers in little black numbers that hang round the gnats like fruitflies over a rotting mango.

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  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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