Young Nats buying and burning Dirty Politics?

16:00, Dec 29 2014

Published 21/08/2014, 5am.

If you've heard enough about Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book and claims of Judith Collins' leaking like a sieve to blogger Cameron Slater, you're not alone.

Rumours doing the rounds on social media yesterday suggested a group of Young Nats in Hamilton might take matters into their own hands and dispose of a large stock of the dreaded book.

The Press Council has upheld a complaint against this article. The Council found the rumour of book-burning was not substantiated to a standard that met the Council's Principle for accuracy and fairness. See the full decision here

It's not exactly on the same scale as the book burnings of the Nazi regime or the anti-communist McCarthy era but social media was yesterday buzzing with rumours of an imminent book burning at Waikato University.

The head of the Waikato Students' Union and a former member of the Young Nats is alleged to have bought 202 copies of Hager's book to burn.


Aaron Letcher has denied the claims, but the leader of NZ First Youth and a Waikato University source, who asked not to be named, said he did.

Letcher said the claims were false.

"There is nothing to it. I saw the allegations on Facebook by a NZ First person"

The Facebook page Letcher was referring to belongs to NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson, who posted: "So apparently, the CNI Young Nats (and, assumedly, the NZ Young Nats) are buying up copies of Nicky Hager's #DirtyPolitics . . . and burning them."

Rolinson said he stood by his post.

His claims have been backed by a Waikato University student who saw the books in Letcher's possession.

The source understood that Letcher had been given money from someone within the National Party to buy the books.

Letcher said: "I have one copy of the book and I haven't finished it yet. I'm not involved in this."

National Party MP for Hamilton West Tim Macindoe was surprised to learn of the allegations.

"This is the first I've heard of this. I know Aaron to be a straight-up guy, I would be surprised if he was involved."

Macindoe said if true, the allegations were puzzling.

"I wouldn't know why anyone would want to do that. It doesn't make sense."

David Bennett, National's MP for Hamilton East, also hadn't been checking his social media. He said the whole thing was "bizarre".

According to the university source, seven out of the 10 members of the Waikato University Student board are affiliated to the Young Nats group.

Central North Island Young Nats policy chairperson and campaign manager Jason Howarth backed Letcher, saying the claims were false.

Asked if he was 100 per cent sure Letcher did not have anything to do with the books, Howarth stated: "CNI Young Nats have not authorised or paid for any of Nicky Hager's books."

Asked what would be the consequence if a member of the Young Nats had been involved, Howarth said: "We would consider their involvement in the party."

Meanwhile, as Prime Minister John Key continued to defend his embattled Justice Minister Judith Collins, Twitter was thrown into a frenzy by a spoof resignation letter.

Collins has faced days of speculation over her future and when a tweet surfaced from talkback host Duncan Garner announcing her resignation mid-afternoon, it appeared she had finally caved into the pressure.

But no. A quarter of an hour later Collins herself tweeted to set the record straight. "Story from Duncan Garner quite wrong. Presumably, he's the victim of a hoax."

A spokeswoman for Collins also confirmed to Fairfax that she was not going to resign after it emerged she passed the name and contact details of a senior public servant to blogger Slater. Simon Pleasants then received death threats after he was vilified on Slater's Whale Oil blog.

Collins says she can't say any more because Slater has reported the theft of his emails to police.

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