Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Ian Fletcher appointment a 'totally ethical process'

John Key pushed for a job for Ian Fletcher as early as 2009. Photo / Supplied
John Key pushed for a job for Ian Fletcher as early as 2009. Photo / Supplied

Prime Minster John Key is continuing to deny wrongdoing in the appointment process of New Zealand's top spy.

Mr Key, who was in Auckland today for a community engagement, told media the appointment of his childhood friend Ian Fletcher as director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in 2011 "was a totally ethical process".

The Prime Minister has been widely criticised after it emerged he called Mr Fletcher urging him to apply for the then vacant top-level government job.

States Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has also expressed his surprise at revelations Mr Key personally contacted his old friend.

Said Mr Key today: "I didn't do anything wrong whatsoever. Labour have done very similar things."

Mr Fletcher's appointment was yesterday compared by Mr Rennie to the 2007 appointment of Clare Curran to the Environment Ministry, under the Labour Government.

The Prime Minister, who claimed to have forgotten about the phone call to Mr Fletcher, has previously said it was unreasonable to expect he remember every phone conversation which took place.

Labour have called for an auditor-general's inquiry into the appointment process, though Mr Key believed the New Zealand public would not find any problems in the appointment process.

"I think they see through it. It went through a very robust process as the state services commissioner said."

A report by former Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge on the GCSB is expected to be released in two weeks.

Mr Key would not be drawn on details of the report today, but has previously said it would identify "quite significant" and longstanding problems within the bureau.


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