Journo quits over link to Dotcom party

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 09:21 16/01/2014
Alastair Thompson
QUIT: Scoop Media co-founder Alastair Thompson.

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A political journalist resigned yesterday after he was linked to the formation of Kim Dotcom's new party.

Scoop Media co-founder Alastair Thompson quit the internet-based news service after it emerged he was lined up to be the party's general secretary and had registered domain names on its behalf.

Former Mana Party strategist Martyn Bradbury, a Left-wing blogger, was also linked to the yet- to-be launched party.

Dotcom unveiled a logo yesterday, revealing his new vehicle is to be named the Internet Party. But the news was quickly overshadowed by claims about individuals behind the venture.

In a "white paper", leaked to Right-wing blog Whaleoil, Bradbury suggested himself as a candidate for Auckland Central. He also advised the party to stand in the newly-created Upper Harbour seat - and to offer free wi-fi in the area as a sweetener.

It was claimed he was paid $8000 plus GST for the advice - and asked for a $5000 technology upgrade and a city centre office if he was to be a candidate. Bradbury, nicknamed Bomber, also suggested the party could return three MPs to Parliament at this year's election and could be a "kingmaker" in the formation of the next government.

It is understood that Bradbury was dropped by Dotcom after Thompson became involved late last year. Public law firm Chen Palmer also provided advice to the fledging party. One of its lawyers, George McLellan, is a former Scoop editor and is Thompson's stepson.

Thompson also resigned as an associate member of the press gallery, which forbids journalists from lobbying for a political party.

Controlling shareholder Selwyn Pellett said Scoop was unaware of the extent of Thompson's involvement until the blog was published yesterday.

Mr Pellett, an internet entrepreneur, said he was "surprised" and had told Thompson there was a "clear conflict of interest. It was unfortunate. But we understand Alastair's passion on this particular subject for internet freedom, surveillance and all those things. There is no ill-feeling on either side."

Neither Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the United States on charges of internet piracy, nor Thompson responded to requests for comment yesterday.

Bradbury confirmed in a post on a Left-wing blog site that he wrote the paper, saying it was an "early draft" of a proposal.

"The idea of me as a candidate was more to kick around ideas," he wrote. "I am a political consultant, this is what I do, this was a proposal I was asked to submit.

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"The moment I start working for the Internet Party, if I am offered a role, I will be shouting it from the rooftops . . . But all it was was a proposal. If that changes, I will let you all know."

A Chen Palmer spokeswoman said the firm was "an expert in electoral law and we have provided preliminary advice on regulatory compliance under the Electoral Act".

- Stuff

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