Hager book contains leaked emails to 'obnoxious' blogger

Nicky Hager at the launch of Dirty Politics in Wellington this evening (Rob Hosking)

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Leftwing writer and activist Nicky Hager has released his latest election year book: this one containing allegations of a long-term dirty tricks operation run out of Prime Minister John Key's office.  

The book, Dirty Politics, alleges use of security services' information and communications against political opponents.

The book starts with what is already known: that a prime ministerial operative, Jason Ede, regularly feeds information to Cameron Slater, who writes the blog "Whale Oil" and who Mr Hager described as "obnoxious" at tonight's book launch at Wellington's Unity Books. 

The book builds on that information though: in an echo of Mr Hager's most famous effort, The Hollow Men, the book contains leaked emails between National Party figures. 

The book also alleges Mr Ede hacked into Labour Party computers and fed the resulting Information to Mr Slater. 

Mr Hager says he got the information through "a lucky break" because, after Mr Slater’s blog attacked West Coast residents as "ferals" earlier in the year, the Whale Oil blog was hit with a series of denial of services attacks.

As a result of these attacks – and here Mr Hager has been somewhat vague – emails were obtained and these found their way to Mr Hager. 

"The book is based upon a large number of internal communications between the National-aligned blogger Slater and a network of National Party figures," Mr Hager says in a statement.

"The documents are very revealing about Slater and his collaborators, including much that is shocking and distasteful.

"But, much more important, the documents also cover politicians and Beehive staff, showing the highly coordinated National Party attack politics used year after year throughout Key's prime ministership.

"You are not going to believe how bloody awful it is."

Mr Hager's 2002 book, titled Seeds of Distrust, about genetically modified corn almost derailed Labour’s election campaign that year and that of former prime minister Helen Clark.

In The Hollow Men Mr Hager detailed private emails to and from former National leader Don Brash after the 2006 election.

Mr Key yesterday sought to discredit Mr Hager.

"Most people know that Nicky Hager is a screaming left-wing conspiracy theorist. He's hardly an authority on these matters … I'm not terribly worried," he told reporters.

Chapter 2 of the book relates email exchanges between Mr Ede and Mr Slater following the discovery by a member of then Labour leader David Shearer's office, John Pagani, that one of the IP addresses for hacks into the Labour database was registered to National Party headquarters.

According to the book's reprinted emails, Mr Ede emailed Slater on June 14, 2014, to note Mr Slater "stood out like dog's balls because of your damn Mac!" as Pagani tracked the hackers by "matching IP neighbourhoods and the types of computer we use."

"In my case," wrote Mr Ede, "I wish to offer a hearty sigh and celebrate dynamic IP addresses."

Mr Slater, who is about to launch a privately funded news service, was quoted publicly accusing Pagani and others of lying, when confronted at the time.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said she could not comment on whether Mr Ede still works in the Prime Minister's Office, saying "I'm not sure of his official title at the moment, but he's still involved."

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