Labour MP Charles Chauvel has accused National affiliates of hacking his email and trying to paint him as a gay "rich prick" after a Right-wing blog claimed that he asked fellow lawyers to put their names to a self-congratulatory letter he penned.
Blogger David Farrar has published a copy of an email allegedly written by Mr Chauvel which appears to have been intended as a letter to the editor.
Farrar says it was sent just before 2am on September 25 from a Gmail account in Mr Chauvel's name.
The email was headed up, "Hoping you would be comfortable with something like this to the Dompost - if not, lets discuss (sic)".
The letter was written as if it came from Auckland lawyers and attacked a political column by Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance about the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill that appeared in the Dominion Post.
It said the lawyers were extremely concerned about the Government's handling of the bill, which passed last week.
The letter said Mr Chauvel had "authored a stout defence of the right to silence" and highlighted significant concerns raised during submissions on the proposed legislation.
It also spoke approvingly of the role of ACT MPs Rodney Hide and John Boscawen in getting the law changed.
Yesterday, Mr Chauvel refused to say whether he wrote the letter, saying he did not comment on the content of "stolen correspondence".
He said he had no idea how Farrar got hold of the email but said it was either taken electronically or obtained through a Wellington consultancy firm that was working with the lawyers.
Mr Chauvel believed Farrar had a copy of polls showing him ahead in the Ohariu electorate and the blog post was part of a smear campaign and dirty politics.
"This is what they have to resort to, try to paint me as a rich prick, or gay, or somehow devious, or all three and try to blacken my character and make me less attractive for election."
Farrar said to the best of his knowledge there was no hacking involved in obtaining the email.
"I can't say where I got it from, but what is obvious to me is that one or more of the people he sent such entreaties to forwarded it on to someone and these things sometimes take a life of their own and get forwarded on to other people."
There was a small chance it was a hoax, but Farrar did not believe that to be a case.
"It's pretty nasty stuff actually, I mean it's one thing to promote yourself . . . but I think having a swipe at, or in fact calling for a journalist to be pushed aside just because you feel you didn't get enough credit, I thought is not a nice insight on character."
The letter in full
Date: Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 1:44 AM
Subject: Hoping you would be comfortable with something like this to the Dompost - if not, let's discuss
We are lawyers/I am a lawyer practising in Auckland who are/is not aligned to any political party. We were/I was extremely concerned about Simon Power's assault on the right to silence - and other fundamental liberties - and so we involved ourselves/I involved myself in the debate and the lobbying effort to reverse those changes.
We were/ I was, frankly, amazed to read Andrea Vance's opinion piece in your newspaper on Saturday. Her account of what really happened here is completely off-beam.
Labour's Justice Spokesperson, Charles Chauvel, authored a stout defence of the right to silence in a minority report when the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill came back to Parliament.
His work picked up on significant concerns raised during the submission process. Rodney Hide and John Boscawen took a long, hard look at the Bill in light of these concerns, and were instrumental in ensuring that ACT re-examined its position on the legislation.
Chauvel, along with his caucus, and Hide and Boscawen, are the MPs who merit credit in this process. We/I have found them willing to examine the arguments for and against reform, and to work patiently, often behind the scenes, to reject the extremes in the argument and bring National around to a position that works going forward.
In contrast, Simon Power, Christopher Finlayson, Hilary Calvert, Peter Dunne and other government-aligned MPs have pretty much toed the party line, failing to do what we/I expect of our parliamentarians - examine legislation dispassionately and in light of the evidence.
Parliament is likely to pass criminal procedure reform in the next fortnight. It won't be perfect law by any means. But thanks to Chauvel, and to Hide and Boscawen, it will be much better than it otherwise would have been.
Maybe your newspaper should get a reporter who understands the law to report on it from now on.
From: Charles Chauvel <email@example.com>
- The Dominion Post
Where do you stand on political coat-tail riding?Related story: Voters reject riding on the coat-tails