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Audrey Young

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

PM produces phone records email

Prime Minister John Key. File photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key. File photo / Mark Mitchell

Prime Minister John Key produced an email in Parliament today which the Opposition says effectively tells Parliamentary Service to hand over confidential phone records of a Press Gallery journalist to the Henry inquiry.

Mr Key produced the email thread as evidence that the same day the Henry inquiry received the journalist's phone records from Parliamentary Service, it replied: "We did not request the second report you've attached here ie the one showing all calls to and from the numbers of interest. We're not interested in looking at that."

See the email that John Key tabled in Parliament between the Henry inquiry and Parliamentary Service here

But the Opposition has seized upon it as showing that Mr Key's inquiry had requested the information.

The email was from Isaac Hollis, the administrator of the David Henry inquiry, to Parliamentary Service - which is responsible for the running of Parliament, including phones, emails systems and swipe card access.

The email was sent on May 30 and the subject line read "request for ministers' landline call logs."

Part of the edited email that Mr Key tabled says: "As discussed, we would like to request the call logs of the below Ministers' landlines.

"We are interested in any contact between the below Ministers' personal landlines, and these numbers:

1. A Vance landline
2. A Vance extension
3. A Vance mobile"

The ministers listed were those who had advance copies of Rebecca Kitteridge's report into the GCSB, which was leaked to Fairfax reporter Andrea Vance and which cost United Future leader Peter Dunne his ministerial post.

The ministers listed were: Bill English, Steven Joyce, Judith Collins, Christopher Finlayson, Jonathan Coleman, Murray McCully, Anne Tolley, Amy Adams, Maurice Williamson and Gerry Brownlee.

Mr Key also confirmed that his chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, had emailed the offices of the ministers who had received an early copy of the Kitteridge report into the GCSB to inform them that Mr Key had wanted them to comply with the inquiry.

Mr Eagleson had also emailed the general manager of Parliamentary Service on May 9 "to confirm that I wished him to make available the inquiry records in relation to ministers and their staff".

"At no point did he ask for information about journalists."

Labour and Green MPs suggested in Parliament that the wording suggested that the wording of the request from the Henry inquiry - "contact between" - meant communications to and from Vance, not just telephone traffic from ministers to Vance.

Labour leader David Shearer asked Mr Key in Parliament whether the term "contact between" meant both parties.

Mr Key said what it meant was not the journalist's records.

"It means the phone contact between the minister and the journalist."

Green co-leader Russel Norman questioned Mr Key about the fact that the inquiry, acting under his mandate, had asked for and received the journalist's building access records and monitored her activities.

Mr Key: "I have made it quite clear that I find the actions that took place with regard to this totally inappropriate. I made that clear quite some weeks ago. But I also make it quite clear that at no point did the terms of reference indicate that a journalist's activities were part of this, and if they were, then the member himself would have said something about it and members of the media would have said something about it. Nobody understood it to include journalists."

Earlier today, the Privileges Committee said it would conduct a public inquiry into the case.

Some of the key players will be invited to make submissions to the commission including Vance, Dunne, inquiry chair David Henry, Parliamentary Service, and Wayne Eagleson who is chief of staff to Prime Minister John Key.

The committee met at Parliament this afternoon and chairman and Attorney General Chris Finlayson said hearings would be conducted in public and the first one was set down for August 21.

"The first part of the inquiry will be to get to the bottom of the facts of the matter and then we are going to deal with some of the broader policy questions as well and invite submissions on that."

"It would never be held in private," he said. "Because of the public interest in the matter it would need to be in public."

The committee would be inviting people who could give probative evidence on the matter.

"We don't people to just turn up and chat."

Henry conducted an inquiry into who leaked the Rebecca Kitteridge report on the GCSB spy agency to Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance.

Parliamentary Service provided Henry with Vance's swipe card access recording entry and exit to Parliament and yesterday it was revealed that three months of her phone records were supplied to the inquiry by a Parliamentary Service contractor, Datacom.

Dunne, who resigned as a minister for not agreeing to supply content of his emails to the inquiry, has also complained that the inquiry was given metadata on his emails and that he was pressured to agree to his swipe access records and phone records being given.

- NZ Herald

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