Ponytail-gate text to PM revealed

Prime Minister John Key and Bronagh Key arriving in Syndey last night. He has agreed to release a text from gossip columnist Rachel Glucina. Photo / Audrey Young
Prime Minister John Key and Bronagh Key arriving in Syndey last night. He has agreed to release a text from gossip columnist Rachel Glucina. Photo / Audrey Young

The text sent by gossip columnist Rachel Glucina to the Prime Minister reportedly described the waitress as a "piece of work" with a "massive political agenda."

Mediaworks has reported that the text said of waitress Amanda Bailey: "Just interviewed the waitress. Piece of work! Massive political agenda".

Mediaworks does not say how it obtained the text, which is yet to be released by the Prime Minister's office. Ms Glucina is now employed by Mediaworks.

Ms Glucina, who now edits Mediaworks' gossip website, wrote about the incident for the Herald. She identified Amanda Bailey as the waitress after interviewing Ms Bailey and the owners of Rosie cafe in Parnell. Ms Bailey later objected, saying she was not aware Ms Glucina was reporting on it and had been told Ms Glucina was a public relations person.

John Key said today he would abide by the Ombudsman's recommendation in response to an Official Information Act request from the blogger at "No Right Turn".

Mr Key had initially refused to release the text and said he did not agree with the Ombudsman's finding but would go along with it.

"The reason we didn't want to release it was because we have always worked on the principle that there is communication with journalists and actually we like to protect that, if you like, because of the nature of the way that journalists even protect their own sources. I felt the Ombudsman should have taken into consideration that view."

He said he had not responded to the text message. "In the end it doesn't really have any impact on me. I mean if that's his ruling we'll release it and people will see it."

Ms Glucina and the Office of the Ombudsman could not be contacted for comment immediately.

A letter from Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier informing the blogger of the decision was placed on the No Right Turn blog. It said that the Ombudsman did not believe the request should be refused.

"There is no blanket exemption under the Official Information Act 1982 for 'off the record' communications between ministers and members of the media. Instead, each case must be considered on its own merits." He said he was not satisfied that there was good reason to withhold the text to protect privacy or any obligation of confidence. "Even if an obligation of confidence existed, I consider it is outweighed by the high public interest in the information."

Deputy Chief Ombudsman Leo Donnelly said all parties to the issue, including Ms Glucina and Ms Bailey, were consulted while the Ombudsman was considering the matter.

Mr Key had 21 days to release the text and a formal case note on the decision was likely to be released next week.

- NZ Herald

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