Key's 'position correct' on SIS briefing

HAMISH RUTHERFORD AND AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 14:27 22/08/2014
SCOOP/YouTube

Prime Minister John Key answers questions on Warren Tucker and the release of SIS information.

Key
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ
FEELING THE HEAT: Prime Minister John Key.

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Prime Minister John Key says he has made a "very thorough check" and was not personally briefed on the release of SIS documents to WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

"I know my position's absolutely correct," Key said. "There'll be a full inquiry. People will have a look at all that."

He spoke after a video resurfaced today of him answering media questions on the matter, days after the release of the documents. It included a reference by Key to his being briefed by then SIS director Warren Tucker.

"What happened is Warren Tucker didn't come to me, he went to his legal adviser and his legal advisers told him this is the process they have to follow and when he was going through that process it was at that point he told me he'd release it because he has to tell me that under the no-surprises doctrine," Key says on the recording of his post-Cabinet press conference on August 8, 2011.

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However, speaking after a visit to Mt Roskill Grammar in Auckland today, Key said there was no contradiction between the video and what he has said recently.

"In the context of that video, 'me' meant my office," Key said.

His account had been backed up by Tucker and the Chief Ombudsman, Key said.

He "probably should have [said my office] but to be perfectly honest that wasn't the big issue at the time", Key said.

He again tried to push the issue away, by saying it wasn't one the public cared about.

"Honestly, if Labour want to go trainspotting on this stuff, fair enough, but I think New Zealanders have got much bigger things to talk about." He had "definitely not" been briefed on the matter while on holiday in Hawaii, and he was happy to turn over his phone records to an inquiry into the matter, he said.

Key would not say who it was who was had been briefed on the SIS's actions.

There was "no dispute" that someone had been, he said.

The people who were briefed were staff who came into contact with information involving national security. He did not believe he should put their names in the public domain, but they would likely be interviewed by an inquiry.

Asked if those who were briefed discussed the detail with Jason Ede, the staffer long believed to pass information to Right-wing blogs, Key said: "I don't have any details on that."

Key was forced to answer questions yesterday on what he knew about the fast-tracking and declassification of Security Intelligence Service (SIS) documents released to Slater in 2011.

Slater used the documents to embarrass Phil Goff, who was then Labour Party leader.

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