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Justice Minister Judith Collins is on her last chance, Prime Minister John Key says.
Mr Key’s comment came after the new screen shots were posted by Whaledump, who claims to be the source of the stolen emails and documents that form the basis of Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics. The hacker's latest posts to Twitter include an email in which Ms Collins sends Cameron Slater phone contacts for Internal Affairs official Simon Pleasants.
Ms Collins has previously said she only forwarded Mr Slater the civil servant’s job title.
On his Whale Oil blog, Mr Slater accused Mr Pleasants of leaking details of Bill English's accommodation allowance to Labour in 2009. Mr Pleasants denied leaking the information, and said he received death threats following his "outing".
"I think the passing of the private information, in terms of phone numbers, was unwise, it was unwise of a minister. Look in the end it's one of those things," Mr Key told journalists at a stand up press conference after the Maori King’s anniversary event in Ngaruawahia.
"What she's on is on her last chance after what happened last time. But at the end of the day she's also subjected to a left-wing smear campaign. And people will actually see that as well for what it is."
Labour leader David Cunliffe said Ms Collins had violated her judicial responsibilities, and that civil servants could not function effectively if “they fear the political layer of the day they can’t provide free and frank advice.”
Another final warning
Five months ago, after the Oravida controversy, the PM said Ms Collins was on her “final warning”.
In May, the Justice Minister went on a week’s leave after first accusing reporter Katie Bradford of requesting help for her (then) husband’s bid to get into Police College, then apologising and withdrawing the accusation.
English distances himself from Collins
Pundits are split on whether Mr Key will risk sanctioning Ms Collins ahead of the September 20 election. But at least one of her colleagues is already distancing himself from the Justice Minister.
Talking to reporters after his pre-election economic and fiscal update yesterday, Finance Minister Bill English said it was not his style to leak information to bloggers and he wouldn't do it.
"It's not a style I like. I don't participate in it. I wouldn't do it - it's not my style of politics, it's certainly not John Key's style,” Mr English said.
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