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PM acknowledges staffer accessed Labour web server — but brushes it off with an All Blacks analogy

Mon, 18 Aug 2014

Prime Minister John Key  has conceded he knew one of his party's staffers accessed a Labour Party website, but has brushed it off with a sports analogy.

Asked on Breakfast, Did you know before the book that Jason Ede had gone through the Labour Party computer system?, the PM replied, "I didn’t know ... but, well I probably should have known because there was some correspondence between National and Labour that a person had.

"The point here is that somehow National hacked in. It didn’t do that. My understand of it – literally from seeing a few of the blog posts – is that the security was left off; nothing to do with us there . Jason became aware of that and he did have a look; I assume that’s right.

"If the Wallabies left up on their internal or their public site all their starting 15 on Tuesday, would the All Black management go and have a look at it? I think the answer’s yes."

Asked if in the same vein it could be argued Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager had all this information put in his lap - he didn’t go seeking it, the PM said: 

"Well probably that’s right but we don’t absolutely know that.

"When you go back and look at things …. I think Labour were involved in secretly taping our cocktail parties. They sent their president to Australia to try and dig up dirt on me. They went around looking at financial records that had no right to get into and goodness knows what they had to claim to get there. That’s a bit more serious than saying someone left their security off a public website. They went and had a look."

Mr Key denied Dirty Politcs' accusation he was close to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

"Cameron will tell you he’s a force unto himself. He attacks the National party as much as he defends the National Party," Mr Key said.

"I’m sure the various Labour leaders officers do the same with the left. Go and have a look at The Standard. Go and have a look at other left wing blogs

"If I didn’t have to deal with blogs my life would be great, but the reality is I get asked lots of questions about them and half the time I’ll go and look at them. I can’t help but deal with all this stuff. There’s nothing new in that."

He said of Justice Minister Judith Collins, "She has a strong relationship with Cameron Slater."

His own relationship was less close.

"I talk to David Farrar very regularly because he’s our pollster. I talk to Cameron a lot less. Occasionally I’ve rung him because I’ve had a particular thing I’ve been interested in asking him on a particular topic but that’s it.

Asked if there should be a police investigation into the hacking of Mr Slater's email and documents, which were then passed on to Mr Hager, Mr Key said. "It could be but ultimately that’s a matter for Cameron. It was his information that was accessed. They do say the information was stolen. That’s a very serious issue."

The PM called Dirty Politics, "Very politically motivated from the left from an ultra conspiracy theorist guy. He can claim all he wants

"But if you want to write a book about dirty politics in New Zealand then you’d have to pretty much include ever political party and certainly have all the tricks that Labour have got up to over the years

"It’s very selective. Some stuff doesn’t bear scrutiny. Some stuff’s been made up, and now there’s concern Nicky can’t back it up."

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PM acknowledges staffer accessed Labour web server — but brushes it off with an All Blacks analogy