Trash and butt photos 'stupid'

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 16:37 13/12/2013
Jason Ede
Fairfax NZ
SENIOR STAFFER: Jason Ede smacks golf balls onto the surf on Wellington's south coast in this 2006 photo. He was today seen taking photos of rubbish which later ended up on a blog site.

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The prime minister has called the behaviour of one of his staff members, who was caught out passing information to the Whale Oil blog, "stupid".

Jason Ede, a senior adviser in John Key's office, was seen crouching among cigarette butts, taking photos after Parliament's press gallery party early yesterday.

Key said Ede, whose role includes "getting out National's message to a range of bloggers," had been reprimanded by chief of staff Wayne Eagleson for his behaviour.

Ede was seen taking the photos about 7.30am

They show some food, broken plastic cups and cigarette butts left on the ground after the party, which finished about 2am.

The photos appeared a short time later on the Whale Oil website, run by Cameron Slater.

Slater used the photos to attack the media as "sanctimonious hypocrites".

They had "gone into bat for the parliamentary cleaners to be paid more, calling MPs and staff messy" and had criticised smokers for lighting up in the parliamentary precinct, Slater wrote.

Key said today he thought Ede's behaviour had been "unwise".

"I'm not sure he's leaking them, I think he's [Ede] actually just sent them to him [Slater] but I think it's pretty stupid.

"I haven't actually spoken to him about it, but I'd say if there's a bit of a mess after a party, well, when you invite 600 people to a courtyard in Parliament there is a mess."

Key said he didn't see any point in him reprimanding Ede.

"My chief of staff has spoken to him," Key said. "I'm sure he won't do it again. He's been told off by the chief of staff, I think that's probably enough."

Key said he didn't know if Ede had passed information to Slater in the past.

"You'll have to ask him, I don't have that information."

Slater yesterday refused to name who he got the photos from.

"I have no idea who I received images from, I don't disclose who my sources are," he said.

"I get many, many things from many different people across the political spectrum."

Asked by Fairfax Media in October about Ede's relationship with Whale Oil, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's Office said Ede was a senior adviser in the National leader's office. He provided communication advice and support to the prime minister and to National Party MPs, including in the area of social media and other media.

The press gallery party included ministers, leaders and senior MPs from across the political spectrum and other invited guests.

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After it finished gallery members stayed behind to clean up.

The gallery had an arrangement to make a contribution to the cost of cleaning if the mess was considered excessive. As of this afternoon no request had been made.

The gallery also provided a small gift to the cleaners to thank them.

Ede refused to comment yesterday but later sent an apology to press gallery chairwoman Claire Trevett.

"I want to apologise to you as chair of the press gallery for passing on the photo I took outside Parliament today," he said.

"It was a silly, spur of the moment thing to do, and I consulted no-one."

The spokeswoman for Key's office ignored questions about whether it was appropriate for an adviser to the prime minister to be supplying such information to the blog. She confirmed Ede was the photographer.

"It is our understanding Mr Ede took pictures of the aftermath of the press gallery function and sent them to a blogger," she said.

"Mr Ede did this off his own bat.

"In terms of the function, a number of staff from the prime minister's office attended and enjoyed themselves and we appreciate the media putting on such a good function."

- Stuff

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