Nothing new in Hager’s book, PM says

The Prime Minister has been briefed on the allegations of Nicky Hager's book and says it's nothing new.

Prime Minister Bill English says he has had a briefing on Nicky Hager’s book but won’t be rushing into an inquiry.

“The threshold of anything that is going to be worthy of investigation is pretty high,” he told reporters this afternoon.

Mr Hager’s much-anticipated book was launched last night. Called Hit and Run, the book alleges a possible war crime was committed by New Zealand troops in Afghanistan in 2010.

Hit and Run – which was co-authored by Jon Stephenson – alleges that after a raid by Afghan insurgents in 2010, the New Zealand SAS organised a retaliatory action that went horribly wrong and led to civilian casualties.

Mr English said this morning he would be meeting Defence Force officials today.

Asked this afternoon what officials said to him, he said “it’s become clear that they believe the inquiries have already been conducted have covered this issue.

“There does not appear to be anything new in these allegations and a lot of them are couched pretty conditionally, even by the authors themselves.

“We’ll get further advice.”

He says Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and the chief of defence are on their way back from Iraq and he will be speaking to them when they get back.

 “At this stage, we’re not rushing into an inquiry – it’s a book that was published less than 24 hours ago in a pretty politically motivated sort of way,” he says.

“It covers some serious issues so we’re not going to be rushed into something that could have an impact on the reputation of our armed forces.”

But he says the “threshold of anything that is going to be worthy of investigation is pretty high.”

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has rejected the book’s conclusion, saying it stands by an investigation carried out by Afghan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

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