Helen Clark, Andrew Little refuse to reveal if they've signed off on raids of foreign embassies as SIS Minister

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark and current Minister responsible for intelligence agencies NZSIS and GCSB Andrew Little have both been unable to rule out signing off on raids on embassies based in New Zealand.

According to reports from RNZ, the SIS worked with MI6 to raid embassies in Wellington during the 1980s. In 1986, spies reportedly searched to Czechoslovakian Embassy for codebooks that would help decipher encrypted communication between Soviet allies.

The alleged raids were set to a backdrop of protest - and eventually policy - against nuclear weapons and power.

Nuclear use was famously ridiculed by former Prime Minister David Lange, who joked, when asked for an answer during a debate, "I can give it to you if you hold your breath for just a moment. I can smell the uranium on it as you lean towards me."

Professor of law Alexander Gillespie told Newshub if true, the raids were extremely risky. 

If agents had been caught, "it would have been a rupturing of all trade relationships, social relationships and diplomatic relationships," he said.

In fresh revelations on Monday, former Prime Minister Helen Clark couldn't rule out signing off on embassy raids herself - and neither would the current Intelligence Minister, Andrew Little.

"I can't say the sorts of things the spy agencies ask for warrants on," he said.

Nor could he confirm the alleged 1980s raids took place: "I can't confirm or deny what's happened in the past... It's not for me to confirm or deny any operational matters the agencies have been involved in in the past."

While unable to confirm or deny the raids, the Government's implying the same isn't happening now.

"The 1980s was a different era and we have strict legal frameworks our SIS operate within now," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Little said: "We don't go around disrupting or disturbing our relationships with other countries."

The NZSIS told Newshub from the 1950s the perceived threat of Soviet totalitarianism was a major focus.

But despite three decades passing - and neither the USSR or Czechoslovakia existing any more - the SIS can't provide answers on allegations of 1980s embassy raids.