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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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