Document dump keeps pressure on National

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2014

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Justice Minister Judith Collins survived another day yesterday, despite an online hoax purporting to be her resignation letter.

She was quick to quash speculation she had quit over revelations she supplied attack blogger Cameron Slater with the contact details of a senior public servant.

But allegations of dirty politics continued to be a headache for Prime Minister John Key. He was forced to deny Collins held "something over him" that prevented her sacking.

And the spy watchdog, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, launched an investigation into the release of declassified documents to Slater in 2011.

Key was campaigning in Wairarapa yesterday. But behind the scenes his party is fretting that a steady bleed of Slater's hacked communications will overshadow its campaign launch on Sunday.

The hacker thought to be the source for Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book dumped more documents yesterday.

Slater has reported the alleged hacking of his computer to police, but it hasn't stopped the source posting links on the whaledump Twitter feed.

Yesterday's releases appear to show years of personal correspondence between Slater and former Auckland city councillor and businessman Aaron Bhatnagar, which details gossip, attacks and innuendo about political figures, including ex-Labour MP Darren Hughes and former minister Richard Worth.

The social media messages also appear to back claims in Hager's book that Bhatnagar first tipped off Slater about a security breach in the Labour Party website.

Jason Ede, formerly a spin doctor in Key's office, faces allegations he accessed sensitive information on the site. In the messages, Slater says he is "working with senior Nats for release".

Key says he doesn't believe that Ede broke the law. He also stressed support for Collins yesterday. Asked if she was getting off lightly because she held something over him, he replied: "She doesn't, and she's not."

Collins acted quickly to scotch online speculation she was quitting. Talkback host Duncan Garner posted a spoof resignation letter which sparked a Twitter frenzy. She tweeted: "Story from Duncan Garner quite wrong. Presumably, he's the victim of a hoax."

A spokeswoman also confirmed Collins was staying put.

She has faced calls to resign from political opponents after it emerged that she passed the name and contact details of senior public servant Simon Pleasants to Slater. Pleasants received death threats after he was subsequently vilified on Slater's blog.

The privacy commissioner has declined to investigate a complaint from the Greens over this leak. However, the Greens succeeded in getting the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to look into why the SIS issued papers to Slater in 2011, but refused a request from The Dominion Post.

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