Hager's claims dissolving: Key

AIMEE GULLIVER AND MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 14:32 15/08/2014
Nicky Hager

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Nicky Hager seized the headlines when he released his book, Dirty Politics, on Wednesday.

john key
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
BRING IT ON: John Key says he isn't worried about Nicky Hager's latest promises to release more information.

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Prime Minister John Key says he would welcome the release of more information relating to Nicky Hager's explosive new book, but will not investigate its claims further.

Key said today Hager's conclusions - including that there was widespread collusion between senior National Party figures and controversial blogger Whale Oil as part of a co-ordinated campaign of attack politics - were wrong and "dissolving before his eyes".

Key also confirmed today he had spoken with Justice Minister Judith Collins, whom Hager paints as a source of sensitive information for Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

Key said he would take no further action regardless of allegations she misused her ministerial power.

Asked if police were investigating Hager's claims, a police spokesman said any complaint received by police would be assessed in line with their normal process.

"We cannot provide a timeline for how long this may take," the spokesman said.

With several central figures in the book denying Hager's allegations, he is considering releasing the emails upon which the book is based.

The book, released on Wednesday night, is based on thousands of emails revealing the extent of the relationship between Slater and prominent National Party figures.

Hager said the documents which had been hacked from Slater's computer were sent to him on a USB flash drive.

After initially refusing to release them, he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report today he was reconsidering.

"I am considering releasing some of the material which is about the main things which are in dispute so that people can see the documents for themselves," Hager said.

"I haven't made up my mind on this yet, because I didn't expect this to be half as big as it's been."

The information in the book contradicted denials from Key. Releasing the emails would let the public see that, he said.

Key said this morning he would welcome the release.

"He really is having a bit of a problem now because most of the assumptions and accusations he's made are dissolving before his eyes and I think that's because he didn't do what a true journalist would do; he didn't go and check out the facts, he didn't get the other side of the story."

Instead, Hager had published the book in an attempted to "smear me and the Government".

"He should knock his socks off and release anything he wants and if he continues to do that he'll continue to demonstrate to New Zealanders that he's politically motivated with a very Left-wing conspiracy agenda."

As a result, Key said, he would not look further into the allegations, including that Collins leaked an email relating to ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar.

The book also suggests Slater asked Collins to have a prisoner transferred to a different prison.

"I'm not going to go into all of the details. I'm not really going to dignify much in the book now. In the end people can draw their own conclusions."

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Collins had "utterly refuted" the accusations "so unless I have a particularly good reason" he would not look into them further.

He was not concerned one of his senior ministers had a close relationship with the man he described as a "shock jock".

Key also rejected claims he had referred in a derogatory manner to the mother of a West Coast man Slater had branded a "feral" after his death.

Key said he had told Slater he "recognised the woman".

Collins has rejected Hager's claims.

"The conclusions Mr Hager makes from selected private exchanges between friends in this book are wrong," she said.
"If Mr Hager were a true investigative writer, as he claims, he would have checked accuracy of the information he received with me prior to printing.

"Instead, this book makes untrue claims based on stolen emails, what ifs and fanciful speculation. I strongly deny all allegations Hager infers against me in this book."

However, Collins confirmed one of the book's claims on Newstalk ZB this morning.

It was that she had passed on the name of a public servant who Slater then claimed was leaking information to Labour. The publication of the name led to threats against the man.

"What I was asked for was the name and the title of the guy and that's publicly available and I've simply given him that," Collins said.

- Stuff

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