Key 'lying by omission' – Labour
Wednesday 3 Apr 2013 5:16 p.m.
The Prime Minister has made yet another admission in the Kim Dotcom case.
John Key says he "forgot" about a personal phone call he made to his childhood friend, Ian Fletcher – a phone call that led to Mr Fletcher's appointment as Mr Key's chief spy.
It's seen Labour accuse Mr Key of "lying by omission".
Mr Fletcher is top spy at the GCSB. Mr Key's known him since they were children and wanted him to get the job so much he rang him directly.
"I knew his number," says Mr Key.
Mr Fletcher came on board immediately after the Dotcom raid, and reports directly to the Prime Minister. His role is crucial as to what Mr Key was told, or not told, about the case.
Mr Key only revealed their history last week. When asked how much he had to do with Mr Fletcher's appointment, he played it down, saying it was up to State Service Commissioner Iain Rennie.
"No, the State Services Commissioner made the recommendation," says Mr Key. "They interviewed him. He hired him. Only that the SSC came to me with a recommendation. It's normal. We know lots of people. I may have seen him from time to time. I can't recall."
But today came another admission – Mr Key revealed that actually he first suggested Mr Fletcher for the job.
"I'm sure I probably would have. I would've mentioned it to him, I'm sure."
The position was initially advertised. A headhunter was called in. Four names were shortlisted, then scrapped. Then Mr Key called Mr Fletcher, who was successfully interviewed.
He became the preferred candidate and the only candidate. But Mr Key still doesn't think he played a part.
"I wouldn't say so," he says.
Mr Fletcher's appointment was unusual. He doesn't have a military or spying background. He's a top-ranking bureaucrat who's worked around the world, including for Tony Blair.
"This isn't some bunny that's been pulled out of a hat," says Mr Key. "This guy is a very successful civil servant."
So why didn't Mr Key admit he shoulder-tapped him, even when asked in Parliament last week?
"I don't remember everything that happened in 2010," says the Prime Minister.
Mr Key's admission last week that Mr Fletcher and he were friends was a surprise. Today's admission that Mr Key actually shoulder-tapped him is equally surprising.
There are no surprises though that Labour's striking out, laying a complaint that Mr Key breached Parliamentary privilege by not fully answering questions in the House.