No mention of Key recommendation in papers on GCSB appointment

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

None of the historic documents released today by the State Services Commission on the appointment of Ian Fletcher as director of the Government Communications Security Bureau indicate that Prime Minister John Key knew him or shoulder-tapped him for the job.

The commission released documents today associated with the appointment, including Cabinet papers and a Cabinet minute.

Mr Key has previously said he told the Cabinet when recommending Mr Fletcher for the job that he knew him. He has since admitted that he telephoned Mr Fletcher in 2011 to let him know about the job after Mr Key and State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie rejected the shortlist of three.

Mr Rennie has said would rather have made the call himself but that it wasn't unethical of the Prime Minister to have called him.

He said he had known that the pair knew each other because Mr Fletcher had advised him during a meeting in 2009.

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson said tonight that he took Mr Key's word for it that he made the personal disclosure to the Cabinet.

But he believed it should have been stated in the paper Mr Key took to the Cabinet recommending Mr Fletcher - and that it should have been recorded in the Cabinet minute, which makes no mention of it.

"I think John Key should have put in the paper that he knew Ian Fletcher. That would have been the right thing to do.''

Nor did the paper mention that Mr Key had personally alerted Mr Fletcher to the job and it should have, Mr Robertson said.

The commission says the costs associated with the appointment came to $59,252, which were footed by the GCSB.

Mr Fletcher's appointment began on January 30,2012, 10 days after the police raid on Auckland-based internet mogul Kim Dotcom. The pre-raid surveillance undertaken by GCSB was found to be unlawful because Mr Dotcom was a New Zealand resident.

A subsequent inquiry found that up to 88 New Zealanders may have been spied on unlawfully by GCSB, which is allowed to help other agencies but is prohibited under the present law from spying on New Zealanders.

A new law is being drafted to set out the conditions under which it will be able to spy on New Zealand citizens and residents.

Mr Fletcher was appointed for a five-year term. His pay is not revealed but he gets four weeks of annual leave on top of statutory holidays and has unlimited sick leave.

He was previously the director general and chief executive officer of the Queensland's Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. He had been responsible for 5600 staff and an operating budget of $1.83 billion.

- NZ Herald

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