Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Shearer besmirching spy chief, says Key

Prime Minister John Key mounted a fierce defence of the GCSB spy agency yesterday and accused Labour leader David Shearer of besmirching the integrity of chief executive Ian Fletcher.

Mr Key said Mr Shearer accused the GCSB of engaging in "Watergate-type activity" by suggesting it had deleted a recording of a speech Mr Key gave on February 29.

"That is utterly refuted. I have been advised by the director that there was no video, that there never was a video, and that nothing has been deleted from the Government Communications Security Bureau's system."

Mr Key's defence of the agency contrasts with his disappointment at it last month when he was forced to apologise to Kim Dotcom for illegal spying.

The Prime Minister was further embarrassed by revelations that the agency had mentioned Mr Dotcom to Mr Key on February 29, contrary to his earlier recollections.

Mr Key yesterday corrected the parliamentary record that he had previously said his first knowledge of the GCSB involvement in the Dotcom case had been September 17, the day it informed him its involvement had been unlawful.

Outside the House, Mr Key said Mr Shearer had "besmirched the integrity of the head of the GCSB".

Mr Key detailed in Parliament how far the spy agency had gone to find out if a recording of his address to staff had ever existed. He said after TV3 raised the issue, he contacted the GCSB and was assured the tape had been used the week before his speech and then not again until April.

"The bureau then went to every camera operator that it has, including some who are currently posted overseas, and confirmed that they did not take any audiovisual or video of me."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 26 Dec 2014 04:06:47 Processing Time: 500ms