Security tape too fuzzy to use, says Key

By Patrick Gower

The security camera footage of National's cocktail party is fuzzy and evidence on its main spy suspects appears thin.

After taking a "quick glance" yesterday, National leader John Key said he personally would not persist with the footage he originally hoped would catch whoever secretly recorded his MPs talking loosely.

"It is fair to say the pictures are not high-definition and for this reason I won't be spending any more time on them," Mr Key said.

He said National would still "methodically work its way through all the material that has surfaced".

That material includes all the rumours and reports on possible suspects - including the Young Labour activists Mr Key originally blamed.

A Victoria University student and Young Labour supporter whose name has been circulated as one suspect denied involvement yesterday, telling the Herald National should concentrate on the issues - "its secret agenda".

The student said he became a suspect via acquaintances in the Young Nationals: "They put two and two together and voila I am now a covert National conference spy."

Asked where he was on Friday night, he replied: "Friday night, that's a long time ago, I'm not too sure, eh?"

He later said he was at a party held by another Young Labour supporter.

He reiterated denials that Young Labour was involved and said he actually believed a "mole" from within the Young Nationals was responsible.

That is another theory - that Young Nationals unhappy with Mr Key's centrist approach made the recordings.

It has been dismissed by the Young Nationals as misinformation.

So have rumours of National putting up a $10,000 "bounty" for those responsible.

Much of the speculation has either come from or targets campus groups at Victoria University.

A speech by journalist and activist Nicky Hager at a left-wing "drinking liberally" event in Wellington last month where he said democracy in election campaigns "is about more than voting - its about doing something" was described by some present as the possible inspiration for whoever made the recordings.

Mr Hager said he "almost always" gave that message when speaking, and while surprised to be labelled the inspiration, he was pleased the secret recordings were done.

The tapes fuelled National'sproblem in being associated with "secret agendas", with deputy leader Bill English caught saying he would like "eventually" to sell Kiwibankand MP Lockwood Smith suggesting he would like to do things ingovernment "that may not be policy right now".

- NZ Herald

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