David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Hacker releases new Collins conversations

Judith Collins resigned as a minister on the weekend, following the release of a leaked email from Cameron Slater. Photo / Getty Images
Judith Collins resigned as a minister on the weekend, following the release of a leaked email from Cameron Slater. Photo / Getty Images

Former Cabinet minister Judith Collins faces being pulled into the high-level inquiry into intelligence information being sent to blogger Cameron Slater after new information from the hacker known as Rawshark.

The Herald now has information purporting to be social media conversations and emails between Ms Collins and the blogger Cameron Slater.

Among the information, which was said to be hacked from Slater's computer, is an apparent discussion about the political demise of former Labour leader Phil Goff.

The conversation appears to show Slater and Collins discussing Mr Goff's departure from Parliament in the context of an expected Official Information Act response just days before the unusually swift release of an intelligence briefing to the blogger from the SIS.

Ms Collins told the Herald she had "no record" of conversations supplied to the Herald. "I believe you have forged documents. You are likely to have been taken in by a criminal."

She said she had " no record of any Facebook conversations" with Slater. "Cameron has advised me that he has now gone through all his Facebook conversations and there are none with me. I am now considering lodging a complaint to Police regarding what I believe to be forgeries."

When the Herald asked why she referred to Facebook when questions didn't specify the source of the content, she said: "Because twitter is limited to 140 characters and I don't have any other social media that I use."

The Official Information Act release from the SIS, made just days after it was requested, showed SIS director Dr Warren Tucker had briefed Mr Goff on Israeli backpackers the SIS had initially suspected were spies - information the Labour politican had claimed not to have been told.

Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book raised questions as to whether Slater was tipped off about what to ask for and when the information would be coming as part of a politically motivated attack.

Video

The Herald is currently analysing the new information but has matched the dates of an apparent conversation between Ms Collins and Slater with the days leading up to the release of the SIS information.

In discussing Labour's prospects for the 2011 election, Ms Collins is said to have sent a message to Slater on July 31 2011 at 8.27am saying: "Can't imagine that they can find someone to take the fall for Phil. When Phil fails, will he then resign from Parliament so we can have a by-election so soon after the election? perhaps he should just go now and then we can save money on a by-election?"

Slater is shown responding: "Well hopefully I will get my reply to my OIA on monday. then we will see what happens."

Collins: "Oh dear. All this open government thingy."

Slater: "twewwible."

Watch: Key announces Judith Collins' resignation

Video

The conversation - if accurate - shows the blogger discussing the expected release of intelligence information with Ms Collins, a Cabinet minister, before the SIS had released it.

The blogger had made the request for the SIS information on July 26. On August 2, he is said to have sent a message to a friend saying: "OIA'd the briefing minutes and notes for Goff's SIS briefing... it has been expedited, in the public interest. It is devastating for Goff I am told." The information arrived on August 4.

Read more of the Herald's coverage:
John Armstrong - Crisis calls on Key to use all his skills
Key: National campaign still on track
The money men and how they toppled Collins
Gallery: Collins in cartoons
I'm the victim of a smear campaign: Judith Collins resigns
The email that brought down Judith Collins
Collins resigns: Jared Savage and Fran O'Sullivan respond

Asked on NewstalkZB today about the conversation, Slater said: "I don't believe that's an accurate portrayal of any discussion and to my knowledge I've never discussed anything with Judith Collins in social media. "There's no verification any of this is accurate (or) put together."

The Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, has launched an inquiry with hearings being held just nine days before the election. Mr Goff, blogger Cameron Slater and staff from the Prime Minister's office have all been summoned to give evidence - but the absence of John Key from the list of those testifying has sparked fresh outrage from opposition politicians.

Labour's Phil Goff says Ms Collins must also be called to testify to the inquiry into the release. Asked about the exchange, he said: "It indicates the closeness of the relationship.
"I would expect the Inspector General to have her give testimony as to what she knew and why she knew it.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 19 Sep 2014 15:51:42 Processing Time: 639ms