Audrey Young

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

Winston Peters: Police wanted my phone records

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says he has evidence the police wanted to access his phone records during the teapot tape investigation.

The investigation was initiated by Prime Minister John Key's complaint that a conversation he had during a publicity stunt with Act leader John Banks in an Auckland cafe had been recorded by cameraman Bradley Ambrose.

Not long afterwards, Mr Peters made it clear in a speech in Invercargill that he had been aware of the contents of the conversation, which by then were subject to a suppression order.

Mr Peters told Parliament this afternoon that in the past 24 hours, he had learned that police briefing notes on the case contained references to seizing his telephone records.

The same files also said that Mr Key's Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson had been "kept in the loop" during the investigation.

"There is information in a police file that says police would have to take Winston Peters' phone records to lay charges and make a case against Bradley Ambrose," Mr Peters said.

"My telephone records were going to be seized in an operation that was sparked by the Prime Minister's office and monitored by the Prime Minister's office.

"This is not Zimbabwe. This is New Zealand.

"If there had been a security issue at stake I would have handed my cellphone records and any other records to the authorities immediately."

Mr Ambrose always insisted he had left his wireless microphone on the table accidentally and had not set out to tape Mr Key.

Mr Key accused the media of behaving like News of the World and complained to the police.

In the end no charges were laid.

Mr Peters does not have proof that his phone records were accessed during the investigation but is trying to find out.

He also questioned why Mr Eagleson should have been kept in the loop.

"Why would a group of people in the Prime Minister's office, funded by the taxpayers, be involved in a police investigation during an election campaign.

"This was not a leak from a state intelligence agency. This was not a matter of national security - or even a matter of life and death.

"It was about a petulant Prime Minister trying to save his face and his backside.

"Today I am asking the Prime Minister and the police to come clean and produce all the documents relating to Winston Peters and the teacup tape investigation."

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Mr Peters' allegations in the House today were "nonsense".

"The PM's office laid a complaint with the police over the illegal taping of the Prime Minister's conversation with Mr Banks during the 2011 election campaign.

"It was entirely up to the police how they conducted their investigation. Any police complainant is generally kept informed on progress of their case but any suggestion the PM's office influenced, or was aware of the operational details, of the investigation is, quite frankly, offensive."

- NZ Herald

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