Rodney Hide: Hager's 'explosive' claim a fizzer

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Author Nicky Hager surrounded by media at the launch of his book, Dirty Politics. Photo / Stuart Munro
Author Nicky Hager surrounded by media at the launch of his book, Dirty Politics. Photo / Stuart Munro

I have tried really, really hard to read Nicky Hager's books. They interest me. But I have never been able to do it. They make my head hurt.

They go 2 plus 2 is 17, the square root of 73 is 6, 12 times 12 is 50. And so: 64. Ta da!

Helen Clark is terrible; Don Brash awful; John Key worse.

And now I read that: "One of the most explosive claims in [his latest] book refers to former Act leader Rodney Hide being blackmailed into stepping down from the Act leadership."

Hager claimed on Campbell Live there was no way he would write about these things unless he was sure about what he had.

What he had, he said, were hacked messages from a computer system.

It seems a character called Jordan Williams told another character, Simon Lusk, that I had sent inappropriate texts. Lusk and blogger Cameron Slater then apparently message each other about threatening me with the release of the texts unless I resign.

And then I resign.

Oh, and Don Brash in replacing me was - according to Hager - Lusk's client. Ta da!

What hasn't been reported is Hager writing: "The documents do not contain the texts and we do not know they exist. There is also no evidence that a direct threat was made to Hide."

So he quietly admits his "explosive claim" could be a fizzer. Even with the admission our so-called investigative journalist never bothered confirming his story. Hager never rang to ask: "Hey, I have just come across the damnedest stuff and just have to ask, were you ever blackmailed?"

To which I would reply: "No, definitely not. I would never give in to blackmail. I would go straight to the police. It's a crime. I have no doubt the police and the courts would take a dim view of any attempt to blackmail a political leader and Government minister. It never happened."

But then if Hager had fact-checked, "one of the most explosive claims in the book" would evaporate. Far better to publish, run the story, make everyone scramble.

I have a baby to feed, girls to dress, dollars to earn, but in 10 minutes I had the story. I tracked down Jordan Williams. He had no texts. He says the claims are "utterly, utterly false ... outrageous. ... disgusting". I believe him. I emailed Don Brash. No, Simon Lusk never worked for him. I believe him.

I get on with my day relieved that there is one more Nicky Hager book I don't have to read.

The Greens, bless them, want multiple inquires. They are complaining to the police. I can save them the trouble. It's not true. Never happened.

In Britain, journalists have got into a great deal of trouble hacking phones and reporting the truth. But here it's different. Hacking computers to report 2 plus 2 is 17 makes for breaking news.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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