Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

John Key calls media 'Knuckleheads'

John Key. Photo / Michael Craig
John Key. Photo / Michael Craig

Prime Minister John Key has gone on the offensive, calling the media "knuckleheads" for their reporting on the appointment of GCSB head Ian Fletcher and claiming former Prime Minister Helen Clark personally headhunted more people for such positions than he has.

Speaking on RadioLive, Mr Key also said he would refuse to answer immediately any questions in Parliament or from the media that required details he did not have to hand.

After a week of answering questions on his belated revelation that he had personally rung Mr Fletcher to sound out his interest in the GCSB role, Mr Key maintained he did not believe there was anything wrong with his actions. He said this was backed up by the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, who described Mr Key as "scrupulous" in his handling of appointments and said he did nothing legally, morally or ethically wrong. Mr Rennie's only caveat was that it would have been advisable if he had made that contact himself.

Mr Key said media had failed to make it clear he had not done wrong. "This is what those knuckleheads who've been reporting this stuff miss.

What is wrong with that?"

Mr Key accused Labour's Grant Robertson of "low-rent politics" and claimed Helen Clark had also shoulder-tapped people to take on roles.

RadioLive host and former Labour MP John Tamihere agreed with him.

"Helen Clark went out there and shoulder-tapped people, said 'you're in the job'. I didn't do that," Mr Key said.

He did not provide examples, but senior sources have claimed Sir Bruce Ferguson was directly approached by Helen Clark to be Chief of Defence in 2001. Sir Bruce did not return calls yesterday, but the appointment had raised eyebrows because he was chosen over more senior personnel.

- NZ Herald

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