When John Key dumped Judith Collins at the height of the Dirty Politics affair, he refused to disclose who gave him a copy of the email that prompted him to dump her from the Cabinet.
That email headlined "Update on SFO/Feeley Sting" is reliably understood to have been copied to Hong Kong-based international tax lawyer and blogger Cathy Odgers, who was a key participant in an apparent conspiracy to undermine then Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley's investigation into the Hanover Finance collapse.
I can now say with reasonable authority that it was Odgers herself who coughed up the email after she was cajoled to do so by well-connected players including National Party insider Tina Symmans.
Symmans knows Odgers well (they share a close friendship with one of Wellington's more interesting legal players) and is well known for her persuasive abilities in the PR space. She is also known for her political nous and would have realised the political implications of that particular email relating to the alleged SFO sting.
What the email did, of course, was to hand Key a reason to not just axe Collins, who had been a thorn in his Government's side for months (the email purports to show Collins in cahoots with blogger Cameron Slater in trying to undermine Feeley), but also to take the edge off the Dirty Politics frenzy during the initial weeks of the election campaign.
The Slater email had implications for news media. This included myself, as the Whale Oil blogger said in that particular email to Hanover Finance's Mark Hotchin and his PR adviser, Carrick Graham (Odgers' name was redacted), that "Cathy can outline her contact with Fran O'Sullivan separately".
The email was a huge shock to me.
So, when the resignation story broke on Saturday, August 30, I Facebook-messaged Odgers asking her to supply me any emails to Slater and "Carsick" (Carrick) Graham that mentioned me in relation to this issue.
Odgers responded: "Nippert (Matt) writing it up for tomorrow but he is mentioned as giving us information and asking for stuff as well. Ditto Jared Savage who actually leaked us stuff on Adam Feeley from what Herald couldn't use.
"Of course I will do a word search now but there won't be any suggesting u actually did anything because u didn't."
I later responded to a request from Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy for comment on the issue, saying it was risible to suggest Odgers had any influence over my writing.
After my words went up on the Herald website, Odgers messaged again saying, "Risible is a good word. Worse for me coming tomorrow but that should clear anything with yourself based on my emails and recollection at the time.
"Risible to think anything blogger did actually influenced the SFO or FMA but I know how story will come out," she wrote.
I let Odgers know how angry I was. She replied: "Fair enough. I would be too. As I am with all manner of other things ATM. Just trying to be truthful in clearing the messy situation that presents. Cameron needs to ... actually deal with such matters."
Me: OK - but I am damn angry about being drawn into a MH [Mark Hotchin] sting.
Odgers: Yes and of course for what it's worth now I apologise for my part in it to you but there was nothing ever passed from you to any of us and neither in return.
Me: My name is in the emails however.
Odgers: Stolen emails that the papers are publishing. We did get information from other journos and likewise they requested Cam to actually speak to Judith and get info back on the Hotchin topic."
Over the following weeks, more of the trio's apparent machinations on their alleged sting were laid bare when the person who hacked into Slater's website posted some of its contents through a Twitter account.
I have opined before that there is plenty of information that ought to lead to a more wide-ranging inquiry than Key has (so far) ordered.
Key's response to the email was to announce an inquiry, which is headed by respected High Court judge Justice Lester Chisholm.
The Chisholm Inquiry's terms of reference are to the point. It will investigate whether:
There is any evidence Ms Collins acted inconsistently with the conduct expected of a minister by undermining or attempting to undermine Mr Feeley's tenure as director of the Serious Fraud Office.
Ms Collins provided information about Mr Feeley during his tenure as director of the Serious Fraud Office to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater or any other party not entitled to it.
Ms Collins inappropriately sought or received information about Mr Feeley from Slater or any other party.
It would also identify and report on any other relevant issues.
This week, I gave evidence to the Chisholm Inquiry as a "witness", not as a "participant" - a distinction that will not be lost on sensible readers.
This week also brought with it the disturbing news of an extensive raid on investigative journalist Nicky Hager's house by police seeking information that would lead to the identification of the hacker whose theft of Slater's emails and messages provided the basis for his Dirty Politics book.
But while the police have been busy poking about in Hager's affairs - hacking is, after all, a crime - they do not appear to have actively followed up on Acting Opposition Leader David Parker's pre-election complaint over various actions disclosed in the Dirty Politics affair, including the alleged "SFO/Hanover Sting".
This suggests to me a failure of prioritisation on the part of police chief Mike Bush and his team.
I believe he could start by requiring Odgers, Graham and Slater to say just who paid them for apparently trying to fit up Feeley.
And why they obliged.
The issue is too big to be swept under the carpet by mere politics and a focus on chasing whistleblowers instead of the real issues.
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