Green MP says spy boss link with Key 'sinister'

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 08:27 28/03/2013
Green MP Steffan Browning
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STEFFAN BROWNING: Green MP

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Their mothers were best friends - now there are questions over the relationship between spy boss Ian Fletcher and Prime Minister John Key.

Key outlined the nature of his friendship with Fletcher under questioning yesterday about the illegal surveillance on German millionaire Kim Dotcom.

Their acquaintance dated back to their childhood, when their mothers were "best friends", Key said. He also went to school with Fletcher's brother.

Labour MP Grant Robertson asked in Parliament if Key recommended the appointment of the Government Communications Security Bureau boss Fletcher, who took over the role early last year.

"His appointment was made by the State Services Commissioner, but if the member is trying to make some other allegation, yes, I knew him, I went to school with his brother," Key said.

Robertson then questioned if the pair renewed their relationship when they both worked in London in the 1990s.

"What I can say . . . was my mother was best friends with his mother. If that makes a conspiracy, fair enough," Key said.

The Opposition have repeatedly cast doubt on Key's claim that he first became aware of illegal surveillance on Dotcom last September. GCSB first became aware of Dotcom's residency status - which would have barred it from intercepting his communications - after a briefing on February 16 last year.

Key later stressed the SSC was in charge of the recruitment process and presented him with its recommendation. He cannot recall if he declared the relationship.

Green MP Steffan Browning said Key, Fletcher and Fletcher's brother "were all mates" who "hung out together" in their schooldays.

"I think it's sinister to have that sort of relationship with the head of the GCSB," Browning said.

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