The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) did not tell former hostage Harmeet Sooden's family to deal exclusively with any media organisation and had nothing to do with allegations of "chequebook journalism", Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today.

Televsion New Zealand (TVNZ) faced accusations of chequebook journalism after paying to fly Mr Sooden's father Daleep and brother-in-law Mark Brewer to the Middle East to meet him when he was released from captivity in Iraq last month.

When Mr Sooden arrived in Auckland he held a media conference, and TVNZ did not benefit from exclusive access to him.

The ministry relayed an initial request for financial assistance from Mr Sooden's family to TVNZ and TV3.

Mr Peters said he had since received advice from the ministry about its role.

"I am satisfied that at all times in this process, the ministry has acted to maximise the chances of Harmeet's safe release," he said in a statement.

"I am satisfied that at no time did MFAT advise the family to deal exclusively with any media organisation, except in relation to the recording of a video appeal with Harmeet's mother in early December."

He said this was done with TV3 because Canwest, its parent company, had international links which might help get the tape aired.

When the accusations of chequebook journalism were first raised, Prime Minister Helen Clark said the ministry was wrong to even make the approach to TVNZ and TV3.

- NZPA