What Judith Collins told the Chisholm inquiry – part 1

Judith Collins after her swearing in as (reinstated) Police and Corrections Minsters, December 2015 Photo by Mark Mitchell NZ Herald.

Judith Collins after her swearing in as (reinstated) Police and Corrections Minsters, December 2015 Photo by Mark Mitchell NZ Herald.

Let’s be perfectly clear about it – Judith Collins was fighting for her political life at the Chisholm inquiry into  ‘Allegations regarding the Honourble Judith Collins and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office’.

That a serving Justice minister should be forced to resign (she says she offered, but let’s face it, that’s what John Key telephoned her to say. ‘Clear my name’ motivation notwithstanding, it seems pretty clear she was given the options: stand down or be stood down); then find herself under inquisition in front of a retired judge, with her integrity and good judgement being examined for consistency with written records; required to surrender her electronic devices for cloning, to supply her passwords for email and social media accounts (the contents of these were, at least, brokered through KPMG for ‘relevance’ to the inquiry’s terms of reference); then peppered with questions by a smart lawyer, Victoria Casey, trained to locate and explore inconsistencies in her ‘story’ – well, it must have been a nightmare.

As a former lawyer (she retains a practicing certificate, she declared to the inquiry in the third sentence of her affidavit) who had been involved with her local law society, she would be aware of the endless parade of evidence presented to disciplinary committees demonstrating that lawyers can and frequently do fail a ‘fit and proper person’ standard — in similar proportions to, say, real estate agents. If not worse.

Add to that the stress of not knowing what else her ‘family friend’/needy puppy/febrile blowhard Cameron Slater had blabbed to his mates and his paymasters (shudder); and, of course, the icy chill of the terrible thought (paraphrased): “OMG! What have I ever said (or emailed, or Facebook-messaged etc etc) to that clown that might come back to bite me on the bum now?”
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The scariest sentence in the English language (and ‘stolen data’)

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Yeah, that’s an oldie but a goodie. Let me use that as an introduction (well, I just did, thanks) to news revealed by the New Zealand Government.

It’s in a very nicely laid out booklet called ‘National Plan to Address Cybercrime’ (right); with a tagline: ‘Improving our ability to prevent, investigate and respond to cybercrime’; and a vision statement: ‘A secure, resilient and prosperous online New Zealand’ (getting the picture yet? It’s all thrillingly super-positive stuff.)

Now it is par for the course when discussing ‘computer crime’ to go to the extremes, child exploitation imagery, sabotage/hacking, money laundering for ‘criminal or terrorist groups’ and use those bogeymen as justifications for surveillance and ‘covert work’ … as well as privacy intrusions such as NZ Customs officers scooping the data off people’s phones at the border. (Oh, did you think I was making that up? Nope. See Tony Wall’s article at Stuff.co.nz: ‘Customs secretly copy data from cellphone’ – and archived here as PDF.)

I mean, who would speak up in defence of sick paedophiles, violent terrorists or dirty rat criminals? Gosh, hardly anyone. So, perhaps those extremes and that mindset (‘it’s all about protecting the kids’) informs this thinking out loud, from  pages 11-12: Continue reading →

Hager search warrant deemed “fundamentally unlawful”. What a relief!

Clifford_judgment-FLIt appears Judge Clifford was not amused nor mollified by the weasel words of the police and their post-facto legal enablers trying to portray their 10-hour full-spectrum fishing expedition at investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s house as somehow ‘OK’.

You can read Clifford’s High Court judgement in full (as I did last night) here:
Hager v Attorney General (PDF 500K)

That police failed in their ‘Duty of candour’ in this case doesn’t surprise me. I hope Judge Ida Malosi, who issued the “fundamentally unlawful” search warrant (which I posted here) gives the Manukau CIB crew a dressing down for (what’s the nicest way to say this?) improperly briefing her. I expect she will, at least, approach the police with more scepticism, and demand more detail, ask some hard questions, from now on. (After all, it’s not a good look for Judge Malosi, is it? Having a judicial document struck down like that.)

The evidence presented to Judge Clifford that police officers also bungled their duty while actually carrying out the intrusive search to apply proper controls and discipline – not just in their treatment of a claim of privilege – is, frankly, appalling.
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Emmerson on Judith Collins rejoining John Key’s Cabinet

Priceless. I love the detail on her tatoos: Oravida and Slater Jnr’s toxic brand. Wow.

Rod Emmerson is so good. (click to enlarge)

Rod Emmerson is so good. (click to enlarge)

‘Taking one for the team’ (The tl;dr version of Slater Jnr at the Chisholm inquiry)

Slater arrives at inquiry

This is a photo (right) of Cameron Slater arriving at the Wellington venue for one of the inquiries into his involvement in a conspiracy sparked by the revelations of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.

Over several hours on 24 October 2014, Chisholm inquiry records show, Slater Jnr comprehensively walked back from claims and assertions he had made, and a narrative he’d spun through dozens of communications relating to family friend Judith Collins (then Minister of Justice) and what she had supposedly told him.

No doubt it was a time of great emotional and mental stress for Slater Jnr. It must have been awful to have all those lies come out for examination. That stress – and the feeling that he’d been abandoned or cut off by elements of the National Party and the John Key government establishment which had worked so closely with him  – may have been partially responsible for some bad judgements he made, and his efforts to get some kind of retribution against those he imagined were responsible for his exposure, and (in his mind) for Mrs Collins’ forced resignation.

It may also have been a factor in his ill-fated decision to take part in a ‘celebrity’ boxing match, I don’t know. But judging by this comment posted to Slater Jnr’s blog by his wife Juana Atkins, it was not a happy time:  Continue reading →

[Source documents] Judith Collins Lester Chisholm Inquiry evidence

As mentioned in The Judith Collins Chisholm inquiry: Who was actually on trial?, the following documents (except ‘Lester Chisholm Inquiry Report’) were released under an Official Information Act request.

They are the redacted witness transcripts and evidence presented to the inquiry, as well as Lester Chisholm’s final report.

Note: There is a total of 60 documents in the set (including cover sheets) which I will be releasing over a short period, as I publish articles referring to some of them. If you’re in a hurry for a particular document, email me. (See ‘About’ page for contact details).

What the Chisholm inquiry revealed about managing the media narrative

Carrick Graham and Cathy Odgers

Smile for the camera: Carrick Graham and Cathy Odgers photographed  in public together the day  after the Chisholm Inquiry report was released. Pic: Chris Gorman NZ Herald

Photographer Chris Gorman caught this image (above) of two of the Dirty PR conspirators putting on a brave face after the Chisholm inquiry report was published. NZ Herald journalist David Fisher referred to the report’s finding of an “extreme campaign against the former SFO boss Adam Feeley carried out by Slater and Odgers” in “a collective organised by Mr Graham, who was working for Mark Hotchin who was being investigated by Mr Feeley”.

At the heart of the allegations against Judith Collins which prompted the Chisholm inquiry is the idea that this “extreme campaign” was funded and carried out to influence and manipulate journalists and ‘the news media’ into serving a hidden agenda. That agenda, it’s been alleged, was to attack, demean and undermine the white collar crime bureau, the Serious Fraud Office (and, outside the terms of reference, also the Financial Markets Authority – see below) who were, as Fisher said, investigating Mark Hotchin.

Without falling too deeply down the rabbit hole, let’s examine those allegations, and see what light if any the Chisholm inquiry evidence sheds on it. Like many allegations, they may be true, partially true, or it could all be an urban legend. …
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Slater Jnr – If bullshit were music, he’d have a brass band

Earlier some genius said this:

What it’s useful to know about Cameron Slater is that he’s not an original thinker, or a leader, or ‘creative’ in anything but in an aping, derivative way.
…History, and his own testimony, shows us that Slater Jnr is a shallow puppet, a ball-boy, a caddie, someone who does other people’s bidding. He was used by David Farrar, he was used by Simon Lusk, he was used by Carrick Graham, he was used by Jason Ede and Phil de Joux.

By the look of things, you can add Rodney Hide to that list. Read Matt Nippert’s NZ Herald piece:

Hide as puppet-master? Looks like it. (click to read Matt Nippert’s article at www.nzherald.co.nz)

Hide as puppet-master? Looks like it. (click to read Matt Nippert’s article at www.nzherald.co.nz)

How it looks: More dirty PR, undisclosed associations and motivations behind not one but two smear campaigns (Xero & Crone). Nasty.
So – business as usual, at the Slater Jnr whatever-it-is-it-ain’t-journalism deceit factory.

If bullshit were music, he’d have a brass band.

– P

Archive of NZ Herald story

The Judith Collins Chisholm inquiry: Who was actually on trial?


Papakura National MP Judith Collins. Photo: Mark Mitchell, NZ Herald. Digital effects Peter Aranyi.

Reinstating Judith Collins to his cabinet this week, NZ Prime Minister John Key deployed a dogs-balls-obvious talking point that the Papakura MP had been “completely cleared” … “through an independent inquiry”. Here’s a clip:

Spot the talking point: “completely”. MP3 file

Watch a video of him saying it when he announced his cabinet reshuffle in NZ Herald political editor Audrey Young’s report: Judith Collins’ return to Cabinet: John Key had no choice but to reinstate ‘the Crusher’. (Note Audrey’s opinion: “…it would have been grossly unfair of the Prime Minister not to reinstate her.”)

Leave aside Audrey’s benign view for the moment. Mr Key’s remarks strike me as a case of spin and a slippery attempt to rewrite history. Maybe I’m being unfair. I think his (former? current? do we care?) texting/Threema buddy Cameron Slater trotted out the same sort of bald-statement-in-defiance-of-the-facts about another of my local National MPs who resigned in disgrace over an ethical lapse, Pansy Wong. Slater also probably thinks Maurice Williamson – who resigned from Cabinet (but not as an MP) over his improper interference in a police inquiry – has been unjustly treated too.

We’ve had a real run of bad luck with our National MPs out here in East Auckland, haven’t we? At least Jami-Lee Ross (National, Botany) seems like a nice bloke. I guess time will tell.
While we’re waiting, there are some interesting things we can discuss from evidence placed before the “independent inquiry” to which Mr Key referred… Continue reading →

The escape of exnzpat, Part 31

Strange New Worlds


Mia sat.  She waited for a sign but no sign came.  She heard only the occasional distant, angry honking of cars in the gathered mêlée somewhere ahead of her.  Her eyes dropped as if she were about to cry, and she called to her sister in the Shadow Lands for guidance.  A few minutes more and with her sister still not arrived, Mia knew that true change had come to her.  But not to her directly.  The world revolving about her had changed.  Shifted and unglued from the path she had known all these years, the world had unexpectedly gone off-center.  It spun crookedly now like an unbalanced top ready to fall.  The impact of it all, of this new order of things, meant the nuances of her magic unwelcome and out of kilter with the aether of the new world.  This had happened only once before.  The day she had killed Simon; things had unglued like this, but in time, she had found her way forward.  Her own powers she relearned.  Regardless of becoming Magus Supreme, the universe and all it contained waited for no one – not Simon, not Mia, nor the one who was now coming… Continue reading →

State agency abusing its powers?

This doesn’t happen every day.
(Update – Transcript of Speaker’s ruling: Maritime NZ Referred to Privileges Committee [PDF 56kb] – Parliament today.)

NZ Parliament – Standing Order 410 (x)

NZ Parliament – Standing Order 410 (x)

I remember the last time this Standing Order was breached. TVNZ was held to have taken action to ‘disadvantage’ its employee Ian Fraser in response to his testimony to a select commmittee.

This new case appears to be an allegation (with substance, judging by the Speaker’s ruling/referral) that a state agency has acted inappropriately against a private sector person in response to her testimony to the Regulations Review Committee — not a select committee to be trifled with at the best of times. Even less so the Privileges Committee.

It will be interesting to follow this case. I’ll keep an eye on this.
– P

Something to remember when you next see some finely “balanced” political reporting

Nice seeing behind the veil for a moment, isn’t? I can tell you from my time covering politics, sometimes it’s like that y’all.

Spot the tourist. John Key is greeted at Baghdad airport by New Zealand ambassador to Iraq James Monroe (in suit). MIKE SCOTT/FAIRFAX NZ.

Spot the tourist. John Key is greeted at Baghdad airport by New Zealand ambassador to Iraq James Monroe (in suit).

Like others I watched the near total buy-in, adoption and regurgitation of NZDF talking points about the NZ Prime Minister’s recent “top secret mission” (um, trip) to “keep his promise” to “visit the troops” in Iraq.

With all due respect to the PM and the hand picked, sworn-to-secrecy political editors who accompanied him on the excursion, the coverage seemed gushy and credulous to me. What came out, mainly, were macho images of John Key — in military garb, dark glasses and a baseball cap. Redolent of George W Bush in a flight suit and ‘Mission Accomplished’. So, hollywood, and “OMG, flights delayed by sandstorms! And fog!” Jetstar, anyone?

In ’embedded’ situations like this, the media is totally reliant on their defence force hosts and billets … and that almost inevitably colours coverage. That seems unavoidable.

Sadly, we’ve been snowed and misled by NZDF spin doctors before.

Radio NZ’s Mediawatch didn’t miss the significance. Their analysis is well worth listening to.

MP3 file


Nor did Mediawatch miss the juxtaposition of last week’s cynical PR exercise with the conclusion of another effort to shabbily manipulate media coverage of military operations – the settlement of the defamation case journalist Jon Stephenson took against NZDF when they called him a liar.

I remember being saddened observing former TVNZ reporter Chris Wright flacking hard for the military’s indefensible and petulant case at the court hearing. Ghastly. At the time it struck me as a prime example of Upton Sinclair’s axiom:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair.

MP3 file

BSA finds Hosking, Seven Sharp “unfair”, but accuracy standard does not apply and anyway, within audience expectations

Following up on my earlier posts: The road to Mike Hosking, vilifier of young women and Hey RaboDirect, if Mike Hosking’s selling you, I’m not buying, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has today released its decision on several formal complaints about Mike Hosking’s awful, slanted, nasty attack on a young woman who complained about Prime Minister John Key’s repeated harassment at her workplace.

The Authority found Hosking and TVNZ were unfair in their treatment of their target.

Highlights are presented here, and the full decision; my original complaint; TVNZ’s response; and my referral to the BSA are available as PDFs below.

Broadly, I think Mike Hosking has been emboldened by TVNZ’s slack-arse indulgence of their prince, and previous BSA findings amounting to “Aw, Mike’s just a guy with opinions, and you know what? The Bill of Rights Act protects his freedom of speech to spout them, so sorrynotsorry”.  The fig leaf of “within audience expectations” is trotted out now and then, too. Well, no.

I was glad to see the BSA recognise and speak to the ‘extreme’ power imbalance inherent in Hosking’s rants from his state broadcaster pulpit; acknowledging TVNZ’s role as a ‘powerful broadcaster giving this apologist a ‘platform’ to treat people this way.

This was my first formal complaint to a broadcaster about breaching a broadcasting standard. Hosking, in his enthusiasm to loyally defuse an embarrassing situation for his beloved Party leader, crossed the line, in my view – partly confirmed by the BSA. If you read the decisions at the BSA site, you’ll see it’s actually quite rare for complaints to be upheld.

I will be interested to see what TVNZ’s response to this decision is. I would expect them to broadcast the decision, followed by apology, and for the video clip of his unfair attack to be retracted from the TVNZ website. But I’m not holding my breath. I note the Broadcasting Standards Authority declined to issue an order. Why, I do not understand.

– P


Mike Hosking on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp, brought to you by RaboDirect – unfair and inaccurate. But the BSA says the accuracy standard does not apply, and focus groups show Hosking’s audience actually expects him to be inaccurate.

highlight para11-14_BSA-Aranyi_et_al

highlight 21-23_BSA-Aranyi_et_al

Broadcasting Standards Authority decision PDF 1MB

My referral to the BSA (including original complaint to TVNZ and TVNZ’s response) PDF 750KB

[Update: see this comment from TVNZ]


Getting news from Twitter

Too good to let slip past …

Click to read on Twitter

Click to read on Twitter

*laughs* *cries* Thanks @jessokfine

– P

On accepting refugees

Can I recommend you read this from Andrea Vance, no stranger to racism and xenophobia from our fellow Kiwis …

Click to read at stuff.co.nz

Read Andrea Vance’s article ‘Nevermind the comments, here’s the Syrians‘ at stuff.co.nz.

– P

Archived here as a PDF.