Slater pushes back against Hager

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 12:03 16/08/2014
Cameron Slater
Fairfax NZ
WHALE OIL: Blogger Cameron Slater
Nicky Hager
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ
REVELATIONS: Author Nicky Hager launched his latest book, Dirty Politics, in Wellington.

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Cameron Slater has dismissed Dirty Politics allegations relating to himself and Justice Minister Judith Collins, while former Labour leader Phil Goff compared the scandal to Watergate.

In an interview this morning with The Nation's Lisa Owen, Slater ripped into the book, saying author Nicky Hager "didn't even have the common journalistic courtesy to contact a single person contained within these emails, while he breached everybody's privacy".

"I never released any credit card details, unlike Mr Hager I redacted people's personal information. I respected people's privacy."

The book claims to reveal widespread collusion between senior National Party figures and controversial blogger Slater (of Whale Oil) as part of a co-ordinated campaign of attack politics.

Hager painted Collins as a source of sensitive information for Slater.

Responding to the allegation the prime minister's office used secret SIS documents to tip off Slater to attack the Labour leader in the 2011 election campaign, Slater said that was old news.

He said the Labour Party laid a complaint with the Privacy Commission and the police at the time, and nothing came of it.

"The fact remains that Mr Hager has used illegally obtained data, illegally obtained details, and has then gone out and sold a book.

"Mr Hager is making substantial amount of money from the proceeds of a crime."

Regarding the book's reference to Collins as his main source for political attacks, the blogger said he and Collins were friends and spoke "regularly".

He said it was fair to call her a friend. "She supported me after my mother died, she's been with me through thick and thin."

Collins yesterday admitted giving Slater the identity of Internal Affairs official Simon Pleasants, who she thought was responsible for leaking information to the Labour Party about Finance Minister Bill English's taxpayer-funded accommodation allowance in 2009.

Whale Oil identified Pleasants in a series of disparaging blog posts, which lead to abuse including death threats directed at him and his family.

Slater today said he now moderated comments on his site more carefully.

Pleasants has denied leaking anything. 

Owen then hosted a panel including Hager, former Labour leader Phil Goff, and Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei.

Regarding the book's accusations around hacking of the Labour Party website, Hager confirmed an associate of Slater's alerted him to the site's security weaknesses.

Slater and National staffer Jason Ede, labelled as the main conduit between the prime minister's office and Whale Oil, then took advantage of this vulnerability, Hager said.

He said the pair in Auckland and Wellington downloaded emails and other information, while emailing back and forth between each other.

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Turei condemned this as "illegal" activity. "If you have unauthorised access to information like this, it's illegal."

Goff said the book reveals the "underbelly" of National's politics.

"Quite frankly, it's pretty ugly.

"Most Kiwis would associate this with Richard Nixon. This isn't what we want. All credit to Hager for unveiling this."

He said Collins should be sacked for her role in the "smear campaign" of Pleasants.

Turei agreed. "It is never acceptable for a minister to behave like that."

Hager said it was obvious National were avoiding commenting on the book, "hoping the media will move on".

- Stuff

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