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Collins raises question about TVNZ reporter's ethics, then apologises

Justice Minister Judith Collins has apologised to TVNZ's Katie Bradford after raising questions about the political reporter's ethics.

Ms Collins said Ms Bradford made an inappropriate approach in 2010 on behalf of her (then) husband, who was trying to get into Police College.

In an interview with rival TV3 at National's northern region conference this morning, Ms Collins was asked about a Herald on Sunday story that said when Police Minister, she was approached by Labour MP Ross Roberton for help. Mr Roberston asked about leave entitlement of his daughter, who was a police officer and a serious athlete. Ms Collins subsequently did make inquiries of the police, the story said.

Rather than comment on the Herald story directly, Ms Collins turned the question around and said, "I think it's very important that when media want to raise issues about behaviours that they need to understand that sometimes they can be very inappropriate as well. It' just like when a member of the Press Gallery approached me about how her then husband was having difficulty becoming recruited by New Zealand Police?"

Asked what the reporter wanted, Ms Collins said, "She had been told that was a problem and that her husband wasn't going to be acceptable as a Police recruit because of her family connections."

Ms Collins said she shut the conversation down at that point.

Later in the interview she added, "I'm just really surprised you haven't asked me who it is ... I think you should talk to Ms Katie Bradford."

TVNZ reporter Katie Bradford — at the time of the approach a Newstalk ZB reporter — is the daughter of former Green MP and veteran protester Sue Bradford.

As she walked away from the TV3 interview, Ms Collins said, "Let's see if you hold your own people to account, shall we, after what you've done to Maurice."

On Twitter, Ms Collins baited TV3 to follow up her comment, saying Ms Bradford's approach was "Very odd and wrong."

There was already bad blood between the pair. A TV report by Ms Bradford last night said she had not seen Ms Collins at the conference. On Twitter, the Justice Minister called Ms Bradford a "liar".

Katie Bradford released a statement saying, "I've had a good working relationship with the Minister in my years covering politics in parliament but I have never asked her for a personal favour. Back in 2010 my ex-partner was considering applying for the police force — at the time it had been suggested to him that he might have an issue being accepted. I recall that this came up in informal conversation between the Minister and me but I never asked her to intervene. As it was, my then partner never formally applied to join the police."

At a standup press conference, Prime Minister John Key said, "I don't believe every individual thing people say or every inference they make, but we have a good working relationship with the media. The media have got a job to do. We have got a job to do and that is where is should start and finish.

The PM said he had a "long conversation" wiht Ms Collins about her comments. Ms Bradford was "thorough professional," Mr Key said.

"There's lot of times that I might see coverage on TV that I either don't agree with or the way its phrased or the way its worded or the things that people say but in the end I soak that up and move on," Mr Key said.

Ms Collins uiltimately decided to try and move on, too, tweeting late this afternoon: "Katie I was answering questions abt wider public engagement. Yr example came to mind. Reflected on that.Shouldnt have.sorry."

Comments and questions

Collins has a good role model for dealing with media - John Key, the most successful National prime minister in two generations.

Instead, she's throwing back to Muldoon-style bullying and bluster.

The damage she is causing National is unacceptable

I think the public have had enough of our cabinet ministers looking after these rich foreigners because they have donated to the party.
I feel National have no idea how the public feel about this imported Chinese corruption.
This latest episode with Williamson and Collins will be the turning point for the election. .

"... about this imported Chinese corruption", one could just as well say "...about this exported Kiwi corruption" relatively. Corruption is corruption, it's about money and power, the influence is universal and the adjective is not necessary.

Collins is showing herself to be the classic bully.

Let's not forget John Key reported freelancer Bradley Ambrose to the police over the tea gate tapes. That was an outrageous abuse of power.

The PM going legal on Ambrose was over-the-top, in my opinion.

But I think the two situations are different.

Collins was questioning Bradford's ethics for something she (allegedly) requested outside her usual reporting work.

The Ambrose-Key stoush related directly to a reporting situation.

There were legitimate questions to be asked about the teapot tape, in some forum.

Did Ambrose record the PM's conversation with John Banks accidentally, or on purpose?

And once he had the recording, what was the right path for Ambrose to take - legally, and ethically?

You can see why the PM wanted to push those points. Though I think engaging lawyers was going too far.

Hi Chris.
I take your point. But there is no right to privacy while talking in a public place (cafe).
And one would hope that the PM would be a bit bigger than do what he did to Ambrose.
Particularly given Key's comments yesterday about not liking everything that's reported in the media but taking it on the chin - so to speak. So even here, we have double standards from the PM.
But we can't have MPs or Ministers trying to scare the pants off reporters.

For gods sake woman, GO!

Collins has lied about the journalist, she claimed she did not like her family being dragged into this and she goes and does it herself, involving two or three other families.

She has tried to silence the press by threatening to name names etc. Freedom of the press is paramount in any democracy, she has crossed the line yet again.

She clearly lacks any judgement, trying to liken an MP raising concerns about staffing levels at a police station or holiday entitlements with a Minster discussing a police investigation into a crime.

Yes shes a bully - thats what Key recruited her for

However they are all busting for Keys role

I agree media diggers & celebrity's are fair game all the time - they love taking the shots but not getting them. This is all TV & entertainment

Her mistake was to show arrogance & anger

Yes, Collins is seen, rightly or wrongly, as a bully-girl, and the public is perturbed by the whole Oravida saga - a highly dubious business.

The question that also needs to be asked is how much John Key, who has bent over backwards to accommodate an oppressive Communist Chinese government's officialdom and its extraordinarily wealthy inner-circle "princes" is now being leaned by these Chinese.

Is this why he daren't push Collins? Of course she should have gone.

Our assets and land land are being flogged off - and the very real threat to New Zealand is not being properly followed up.

No, not xenophobia - history, plus reality.

women bully, men assertive, strong!!!!!

My own view is only Simon Bridges is capable of giving National back to any sort of progressive, free market, libertarian, west aligned position. Collins is just a conservative feminists, in most ways less liberal than Clark and who likewise sees the army as a conservative institutional force. Anyone actually interested in a fair government for the educated middle class, women under 35 and checking the police should only vote for Cunliffe, little and Parker. Craig probably believes in half of my perspective. Collins and Brewer would have no common ground with me.
Except possibly in dislike Sue Bradford. Bradford is a hard left British type militant, ie she believes in nuclear power and psychiatry and the police rather than the CIA. I started writing articles in part to get a modern passenger oriented railways, minus the social derilicts, thick and useless that Muldoon,Bradford, coding ton and Waring wanted to waste money on employing. Secondly people should live for pleasure, sex and booze the best exercise and psychiatry a poor substitute except for fat old white haired sex hating women academics who need a Valium cos.