Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Hacker dump: Emails released

The Whaledump Twitter account has released just a fraction of the information the hacker claims to have. Photo / Twitter
The Whaledump Twitter account has released just a fraction of the information the hacker claims to have. Photo / Twitter

Some of the emails to and from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater which investigative writer Nicky Hager based his Dirty Politics book on have been posted online by an individual who claims they were hacked from Mr Slater's computer.

The emails include one sent in 2008 some months before John Key became prime minister from his press secretary Kevin Taylor to Mr Slater, which Mr Hager claims marked the beginning of a political dirty tricks campaign run by Mr Slater with the help of Mr Key's former senior communications advisor Jason Ede.

Mr Taylor tells Slater "Our intention is not to engage with any blogs".

Read more:
HACKER DUMP: Ex-PM staffer in the spotlight
JOHN KEY: Ede has been 'briefing the bloggers'
DIRTY POLITICS: Hager's tell-all chapters
ELECTION: Race getting tighter and grubbier
FIGHTBACK: Kim Dotcom hits back at Slater claims

However he goes on to state: "Jason Ede asked me to mention he will be giving you a call in the next few days".

Facebook messages released by the hacker show he forwarded details of Green Party activists accused of vandalising National Party billboards to Mr Ede.

Mr Slater ran several blogs in 2011 trying to find those responsible for the vandalism, which consisted of putting stickers across National billboards.

He claimed one tipster gave him the registration numbers of two motorbikes seen at a billboard in Christchurch. He also received the names and addresses of two activists from somebody who appears to work in the motor industry. Mr Slater then forwarded them to Mr Ede.


Nicky Hager's (left) new book includes exchanges by politicians and Cameron Slater. Photos / Getty, Doug Sherring

Soon after that, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman apologised to Mr Key and announced his assistant had been stood down because one of the accused activists was her partner and she had not informed him of the campaign.

The released emails contain the names of at least two people who passed tips on to Mr Slater through his blog, names which were not used by Mr Hager in his book.

There are also messages relating to the Botany by-election selection in 2011 for National, in which Mr Slater was championing the successful candidate, Jami-Lee Ross.

Mr Slater took umbrage at being locked out of the selection meeting and wrote of National Party President Peter Goodfellow and another National official: "They will keep. For now I need to get my mate elected, but I won't be forgetting anytime soon the actions of tonight."

Mr Ede responded: "I don't know what's going on in their heads except to say I have never understood why the Auckland National Party is so frigging dysfunctional. We are on the same team (mostly)."

He also advised against Jami-Lee Ross doing too many media appearances after Mr Slater told him Mr Ross was on a radio show with Willie Jackson and John Tamihere the next day.
Mr Ede said it was "all risk with small reward".

"He will win if he shuts up and runs the messages."

He then said Mr Ross would have time with the PM on the next Monday.

"No imperative to gain media coverage."

Mr Slater replied: "he will do as he is told."

The emails also show Mr Ede passing on the wording for an Official Information Act request that Mr Slater was planning around the restructuring of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The Whaledump Twitter account.

'Spooky' way to release information - PM

The fact that emails linking Prime Minister John Key's office to attack blogger Cameron Slater have been posted online using Kim Dotcom's Mega file sharing service is "interesting" and could be seen as "very spooky" Mr Key said this afternoon.

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Some of the emails exchanged between Mr Key's former adviser Jason Ede and Slater which investigative writer Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book is based on were posted online by an individual claiming to have hacked them from Slater's computer.

The emails were posted on Dotcom's Mega service.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon Mr Key avoided directly addressing questions about whether Mr Ede's behaviour as depicted in the book and the emails was appropriate.

"There's nothing new today," he said.

"As I've said all along no one's contested that the emails were stolen. What we have always said is that the assumptions that are drawn and the conclusions that are drawn in our view aren't always accurate or it was old information.

"I do think it's vaguely interesting anyway that the dump of these has now been put up as I understand it on a site linked to the established one by Kim Dotcom - but that could just be very spooky."

Mr Key's comment comes after Slater yesterday accused Dotcom of being responsible for hacking the messages for his computer.

Dotcom has denied the claim.

Meanwhile, having this morning acknowledged Mr Ede did access information via a security flaw in Labour's website in 2011, Mr Key continued to maintain there was nothing wrong with that.

"If they leave their security off their site... that's their mistake it's not the National Party's mistake."

He also repeated that his office had nothing to do with the release to Slater of an embarrassing document about former Labour leader Phil Goff's briefing from SIS boss Warren Tucker on Israeli agents in Christchurch.

"The SIS have made it very very clear that they release things on their time table."

He also backed Justice Minister Judith Collins over her passing on details of public servant Simon Pleasants to Slater, opening up the official to unfounded allegations, abuse and threats from Slater and his readers.

Asked if stood by all the actions of his staff, Mr Key replied, "I'm not going to go through that blow by blow".

"What I'm concerned about is a smear campaign from the left."

Email dump "absolutely" backs Hager book claims - Cunliffe

Labour leader David Cunliffe said the contents of emails dumped online today "absolutely verifies" Mr Hager's book.

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"The claims in the book, to my understanding, have been proven by the emails that have been released - the Prime Minister now has a large number of questions he must answer in order to retain his credibility and to be seen to be fit to uphold his office.

"They prove that the claims Mr Hager has made in the book are based on actual emails. What more can you say? They are what he said they would be."

Mr Cunliffe said there was nothing in the contents of the emails - which he had not read but had been briefed on - that surprised him.

Asked of his reaction to messages showing Mr Slater forwarding details of Green Party activists accused of vandalising National Party billboards to Mr Ede, Mr Cunliffe said:

"That is in the realms of the truly bizarre, but nothing much surprises me after reading that book."

Asked about their authenticity, Mr Cunliffe said he would "doubt very much they would be made up... but by all means, they should be tested".

Asked if he had any message to the source of the leaked information, or whether he wanted them to release all of the material, Mr Cunliffe offered no comment, saying "it's none of my business".

He had not warned his own staff and candidates about what they said in email correspondence.

"I think our candidates and MPs know very well that good standards of behaviour are expected."

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson today released a list of questions for Mr Key, including whether Mr Ede still had access to his office, whether it was appropriate for Justice Minister Judith Collins to leak information to Mr Slater, and whether it was "appropriate to engage with someone who calls West Coasters ferals and Cantabrians scum".

- Additional reporting: Jamie Morton

- NZ Herald

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