New Zealand man's Deep Throat mystery solved

This week's revelation of the identity of "Deep Throat" - the man who helped to bring down US President Richard Nixon - has solved another mystery for a Wellington man who lived in Washington when Watergate broke.

Herman Knippenberg a student at the time, lived in the same apartment complex as Bob Woodward, one of two reporters whose stories helped to forced Nixon to resign.

Mr Knippenberg got to know Woodward, but always wondered about something the journalist said that never quite rang true.

There were about 150 apartments in the complex, but Woodward and Mr Knippenberg were the only two tenants to have the New York Times delivered.

Woodward, who lived two storeys up, twice knocked on his door, asking if his copy of the paper had been delivered by mistake.

"I was quite puzzled and said, 'What difference does it make?"'

Woodward was insistent on getting the copy with his apartment number marked on the top corner.

"When I asked him, 'Why Bob?', he said 'Because I like to have it in mint condition and I like to have my own copy'."

Mr Knippenberg said the answer never rang true but he only twigged after the coverage of former FBI deputy director Mark Felt's admission that he was Woodward's source.

The pair had a signalling system to arrange their meetings. If Woodward wanted to meet Felt he would place a pot plant with a red flag on the back of his balcony. But if Felt wanted a meeting he intercepted Woodward's morning paper and put a tiny clockface on one of the inside pages, indicating a meeting time.

The mystery of Woodward's white lie was finally solved.

Mr Knippenberg, who recently retired from the Dutch diplomatic service, often met Woodward round the complex and once asked him how he got his Watergate facts.

"He laughed, looked at me and said 'It's a matter of cloak and dagger - the cloak is more on my side and the dagger more on the side of Nixon'."

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