Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Key on the back foot as Opposition leaders twist knife

Prime Minister John Key was yesterday again on the back foot in Parliament over questions about how much he knew about the involvement of the GCSB and other intelligence agencies he is responsible for in the Kim Dotcom debacle.

For a second day Opposition leaders questioned Mr Key's oversight of the GCSB, which spied illegally on Mr Dotcom.

Responding to Labour leader David Shearer, Mr Key said he was unsure whether domestic spying agency the SIS, which he is also responsible for, or the National Assessments Bureau, were involved in the Dotcom case.

He did not know whether the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) was involved.

The DPMC includes intelligence gathering and co-ordination bodies the National Assessments Bureau, the Intelligence Co-ordination Group and the Security & Risk Group. All three organisations could be expected to have been aware of Mr Dotcom.

But Mr Key did not know whether any of the agencies had provided him with any advice about the Dotcom case before the GCSB informed him of its unlawful spying on September 24.

Mr Key appeared to become confused when asked by NZ First leader Winston Peters when his chief of staff was first told of the Ministerial Certificate issued in Mr Key's absence last month by his deputy Bill English.

Mr English issued the certificate to prevent details of the GCSB's involvement in the Dotcom case emerging in court.

"I do not exactly know, but to the best of my knowledge it was on Monday the 17th when I knew," Mr Key said. He later returned to the House and made a personal statement saying it was only this week that he learned of the document.

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson last night said Mr Key "looked incredibly uncertain" in answering questions about the involvement in the Dotcom case by organisations of which he had oversight.

What the PM didn't know

Prime Minister John Key has demonstrated a lack of knowledge about key aspects of the Dotcom case including:

• He did not know who Kim Dotcom was until the day before the January 20 police raid despite the tycoon living in the luxury Chrisco mansion in Mr Key's Helensville electorate.

• He did not know until two weeks ago that the GCSB, which is under his charge, was eavesdropping on Mr Dotcom and his associates on behalf of the police - seven months after the surveillance ended.

• Until this week, he did not know about the ministerial certificate or suppression order to prevent details of the GCSB's role being made public during a court hearing last month - despite that order being signed by his deputy, Bill English, who was acting on his behalf while Mr Key was overseas.

• Yesterday when asked, he did not know if his own department - including two key intelligence groups - had been briefed on the GCSB's Dotcom spying.

- NZ Herald

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