It is six days since the Green Party unearthed documents showing Prime Minister John Key's lawyer had name-dropped the "PM" to get a meeting with former Revenue Minister Todd McClay.

As those days rolled on, we learned a great deal about Key. When the Whitney email first emerged, Key's defence when asked why his lawyer was hitting him up about such a matter was "I don't live in a vacuum". By yesterday it was "I don't live in a test tube".

He even adopted the royal "we": "We are very accessible, and that includes being out and about in the community pretty much every day that we are not in Parliament or overseas.

That also means that I make sure I'm out there. If I go to the Koru Lounge, for instance, I don't sit away in the corner, I stand out in the middle. People come up to me from all walks of life every single day."


In Parliament yesterday, Labour was only interested in whether McClay knew Ken Whitney was Key's lawyer when he agreed to meet him and whether Key had told Whitney there were "no current plans" to change the foreign trust regime.

McClay had no recollection of when he learned who Whitney was, but Key recalled telling him he would hear from "my lawyer". On the second, Key claimed he told Whitney he was not aware of any regime review plans, and the apparent discrepancy was "sloppy" wording.

What Labour was trying to get was evidence, or even the perception, that McClay felt pressured into meeting Whitney and dropping a review of foreign trust laws.

Key insisted that was not the case and claimed Inland Revenue's proposed review was a "footnote". Labour, meanwhile, provided a paper in which Inland Revenue listed it on its "action plan" just before it was dropped.

By the end of it, all we still knew was Whitney name-dropped Key when lobbying the Revenue Minister about foreign trusts.

What was more puzzling was why Labour ignored an easier hit. Last week Labour's David Cunliffe revealed two foreign buyers found criminally responsible for pollution in Argentina were allowed to buy a farm in Taranaki.

That resulted in a minister ordering a "please explain" from the Overseas Investment Office an hour before Key boasted about the robustness of the OIO's processes to the Institute of International Affairs.

As for Whitney, the glory of having the "by Prime Ministerial appointment" stamp quickly soured when Key threw him under the bus.


Meanwhile, if anyone wants the PM's ear, join the Koru Club.

Debate on this article is now closed.