No evidence that Judith Collins undermined SFO boss

Transcripts of interviews released to NZ Herald under the Official Information Act don’t reveal any evidence that then Justice Minister Judith Collins tried to undermine the head of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley.

It appears the ‘over-blown’ claims by Cameron Slater dumped his friend Collins into a political shit storm.

In Champagne stunt an utter disaster: Collins the Herald reports:

An inquiry by High Court judge Lester Chisholm, which published its report in November, found no evidence that Ms Collins had attempted to undermine Mr Feeley when she was Police Minister in 2011.

Transcripts of interviews with 13 witnesses, including Ms Collins, Mr Feeley, bloggers Cameron Slater and Cathy Odgers and lobbyist Carrick Graham have been released to the Herald under the Official Information Act.

The inquiry concluded that Slater had exaggerated or made up a claim that Ms Collins had been “gunning” for Mr Feeley.

Chisholm inquiry – key players

•Judith Collins (former Police, Justice Minister): Resigned as a minister after an email appeared to show she was “gunning” for SFO boss Adam Feeley. Later cleared of inappropriate conduct but not returned to Cabinet.

•Adam Feeley (former SFO CEO): Investigated by State Services Commission after celebrating charges against Rod Petricevic by drinking champagne taken from Bridgecorp’s offices.

•Cameron Slater (Whale Oil blogger): A friend of Collins, he claimed she was “gunning” for Feeley while she was Police Minister, but later admitted to the inquiry that his comment may have been over-blown.

•Carrick Graham (lobbyist): Paid blogger Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate) to counter negative media attention for Hanover boss Mark Hotchin, whom the SFO was investigating. Ms Odgers used Slater’s blog to get a wider audience for the campaign.

•Anita Killeen (former SFO staffer): Leaked damaging information about Feeley. Later pleaded guilty to forging an email which appeared to be sent by Feeley. She was discharged without conviction.

Feeley thought Collins overreacted to embarrassing news about a champagne celebration.

Former Justice Minister Judith Collins described a champagne stunt by fraud watchdog Adam Feeley as an “utter disaster” that threatened to overshadow the Government at a crucial time.

Mr Feeley believed Ms Collins had overreacted when the then Serious Fraud Office boss was found to have celebrated charges against Bridgecorp with champagne taken from its offices.

They seem to have since dealt with that.

Was it just bullshit bravado from Slater that dumped Collins into the shit-storm that resulted in her resignation from Cabinet?

What were he, Odgers and Graham playing at? And for whom?

Has Slater protected her by later denying his claims?

Slater speaks on behalf of the National party and on leaders

In ONE PARTY, TWO BOARDS, ONE LEADER Cameron Slater seems to be presenting himself as an alternate leader of National, speaking on the Party’s behalf.

Here’s one guarantee:  National will never enter into any kind of coalition or cup-of-tea agreement with the Conservative Party while Magic Hands Craig is still roaming the political scene.  He will need an electorate seat or get to 5%.  Either of those has the same chance of me winning the Miss Universe competition.

I’d be very surprised if National co-operate in any way with a Colin Craig led Conservative Party. But unlike Slater I’m not in a position to guarantee anything on behalf of a party.

Talking of leaders, or in this case potential leaders, Slater continues his ongoing attempt to diminish the prospects of a National leader of the future in EXPLAINING IS LOSING, PAULA.

In contrast to CRUSHER’S BAAAACK in which he promotes his pet choice for leader of the future

Judith Collins has a hard hitting column in the Sunday Star-Times showing her mettle again on law and order.

He goes on to explain:

And if Judith Collins was still Justice Minister, as she should be, the law would be changed.

Unexplained is why Whale Oil didn’t feature this:

Jarrod Gilbert: Collins’ defence of police offending indefensible

So common is political foolishness that it has become barely remarkable. But wrong in principle and crooked in logic, Judith Collins’ effort last week was a special example.

In a newspaper column, Collins expressed outrage that charges relating to the Red Devils Motorcycle Club were dropped due to what Justice David Collins described as “serious misconduct” and possible “serious criminal offending” by police. She bristled at the suggestion that any action be taken against the offending police officers.

Judith Collins is of the view that police can break the law in performing their duties based on the rationale that their job is dangerous and important. She was defending, among other things, the police forging a court document.

Gilbert concludes:

In instances like this, we should be grateful for the separation of state powers and an independent judiciary.

Judith Collins’s view on this is frightful. A former justice minister should not need reminding that the integrity of the justice system is paramount. And that the police are not above the law.

The party Slater appears to speak on behalf of, National, has one leader, one ambitious demoted MP and one political activist/occasional journalist still hoping he hasn’t done any damages to that MP’s chances of resurgence into leadership contention, or ignoring or oblivious to the taint he exposes her to.

‘Rule number 1′ is fairly stupid

In one of his growing number of ‘John bad, Judith good’ posts Cameron Slater highlights one of his hypocrisies. Having done a lot of trying to explain many things (apart from what happened to Freed and why he hasn’t denied paying Ben Rachinger to hack The Standard) he reverts back to one of his so-called political rules:

WHAT IS RULE NUMBER 1 IN POLITICS JOHN?

Leadership should be a truism. You are the leader because there is no other alternative.

When it no longer become s a truism then your leadership is in question. It may be still solid, but questions are now being asked.

And when those questions are asked you get forced into breaking Rule Number 1 in politics.

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

Why he wants to highlight that when he has post so much over the last year is a bit baffling.

In a round about way Slater is trying to explain that he thinks John Key is nearly history and Judith Collins is the heir apparent (if you forget everything that’s been revealed over the past year).

Unless leaders have surnames like Stalin or Pinochet then they have a basic responsibility to explain quite a few things on an ongoing basis.

If John Key is having to explain to his members that he is definitely sticking around then there are problems.  

Explaining is losing and there are increasing signs that there is pressure.

What Slater doesn’t explain is that he’s trying to talk up some pressure. Except scepticism is now rule number 1 when considering Slater style politics. It’s only bloggers like Slater and Greg Presland who try to convince people who never listen to things like The rise of Collins and the decline of Key.

Don’t expect wither Slater or Presland to explain why they are promoting the same futility.

But Slater goes on to try his best to explain how Key will lose his leadership. And he concludes:

When the polls start moving then you will see more action on finding a replacement for John Key.

The polls move around all the time. National have fluctuated between about 44% and 55% over the last few years. There has been no sign of ‘more action’ with any of those movements so far.

But expect Slater to try and keep explaining his strategy, frequently.

I’m waiting for a good explanation of why John is bad and Judith is good for National. And I’d be fascinated by any explanation as to why Slater is good for Collins’ prospects.

Key remains committed

John Key has told National’s Northland regional conference that he’s as determined to still lead National in 2017 as he was in 2008.

NZ Herald reports John Key determined to stick around.

Prime Minister John Key has scotched speculation he could stand down this term, telling National Party faithful in Northland that he is just as determined to lead National in 2017 as he was in 2008.

Mr Key’s speech to National’s Northland regional conference at Waitangi was his first on home soil after a torrid fortnight dominated by questions about his pulling a waitress’ ponytail.

He avoided directly referring to that incident in his speech but made it clear he did not intend to quit: “I am just as committed today to leading National to victory at the next election as I was when first taking up the role as your leader in November 2006.”

Mr Key also gave a behaviour pledge of sorts, referring to the need for hard work, oversight and good judgment.

He said he did not take the high levels of support in the polls for granted. “You have my strong commitment that I will do everything I can to lead a strong Government and a strong National Party as we face the next two and a half years until the 2017 election.”

This will please staunch National supporters and dismay the left.

It may also dismay some on the right. Judith Collins played down her comeback ambitions on Q & A yesterday:

Judith Collins is happy as Larry in her role as member for Papakura and dismisses any chatter of a come back.

The former justice minister says she’s getting on with her work, having fun, and leaving it up to the Prime Minister when/if she will re-enter Cabinet.

“Obviously I would like to be back in Cabinet,” Ms Collins told Q A this morning.

Asked if she was planning a come back, Ms Collins fired back, “what come back?

But fanboy Cameron Slater seems to have different ideas. Yesterday he posted:

AFTER KEY. THEN WHAT?

When the media regularly speculate about what is to happen after you’re gone, it is an indicator that you are in the autumn of your political career.

It continues to amaze me how little political journalists understand of the National Party’s internal leadership processes.

They continue to confuse the apparent outward popularity of an MP with the public as a critical factor.

Not so.

But that aside, the talk about “after Key” has started.

Slater has been talking about “after Key” ever since Judith Collins was dropped from Cabinet.

Unusually for him he posted the full transcript of Collins’ interview in JUDITH COLLINS INTERVIEWED BY HEATHER DU PLESSIS-ALLEN ON Q&A.

But if Key stands again in 2017 and wins then time is running out for Collins’ (or Slater’s) leadership ambitions. By 2020 Collins will be a politician with a long past – she was first elected in 2002 and is seen as of Key’s generation.

Even if Key loses in 2017 National may look to a new generation of leadership. Paula Bennett is often talked about as a potential successor to Key.

But anything could happen. Slater may become a credible power broker.

In the meantime Key looks set to continue and Collins herself looks set to bide her time and see what opportunities may arise.

Slater does dirt on Joyce and Bennett

When Cameron Slater runs sustained attack campaigns against anyone it’s not unreasonable to be suspicious, given his past admissions and behaviour. Natural reactions can be “who is he attacking on behalf of” and “who’s paying him for that?”

Yesterday ‘Missy’ brought attention to another in a series of attack posts at Whale Oil:

I see Cam Slater has another hit job on National today, this time attacking Paula Bennett and Stephen Joyce. He has written it in the guise of critiquing a story be Andrea Vance.

He talks about how Paula Bennett treats her staff like scum, however, I knew someone who worked for Paula Bennett, and that person left due to health issues (receiving treatment for cancer), but that person said they would happily go back and work for her, even better Paula Bennett was willing to accommodate the fact the person had moved to the South Island as well. That view of her as a boss does not tally with what Cam Slater is saying about her. To be honest I don’t know either of them, but also from what I have heard they are not the most difficult Ministers to work for, so it is suspicious he is targeting them, or not

Se was referring to this post – THE VACUITY OF ANDREA VANCE’S ANALYSIS.

Slater (presuming it’s Slater who has written the post, that’s another suspicion that arises whenever he posts anything like this) attacks Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett, regarded as potential leaders-in-waiting in the National caucus.

Anyone talking regularly to the back benchers would know that Joyce is impossible to get into your electorate, impossible to get time with to discuss policy and employs difficult staff who treat back benchers like they are scum. Anyone running a tally of back bench support for Joyce finds it hard to count more than one or two loyalists who are inside his camp.

Paula Bennett has a different reputation than Joyce, but one that is perhaps worse for an aspiring leadership candidate.

She personally treats staff and backbenchers like scum, rather than leaving her staff to treat them like scum as Joyce does. She is fond of a drink and is known to get very familiar with much younger men or do the rounds with donors sitting on all their knees, or worse all of that with Labour staffers. The tally of Paula supporters on the backbench is even lower than the tally for supporters for Joyce.

Alan Wilkinson responded:

I guess Cam would know since he treats his readers like scum.

This is typical smearing from Slater. He tried similar attack lines in relation to National’s Northland candidate selection.

Dirty politics hasn’t disappeared – but it now raises instant suspicions.

It’s well known that Slater has been promoting Judith Collins as a future leader. Expect attacks like this to increase as Collins recovers her last year setbacks. She’s expected to be re-appointed to Cabinet and ministerial duties at the first opportunity this year.

It would be interesting to know what back benchers thought of a candidate for leadership with Slater’s taint hovering.

Slater is the whale in Collins’ room.

And he would willingly take down the government to achieve his longer term aims – which are seeking power by subverting democracy. And revenge.

And when it was put to him Slater denies it’s a leadership move:

No one is counting…there is no move, but Joyce had to shore up support after his appalling stuff up in Northland.

Just groundwork.

It’s interesting to see him continually connecting Bennett to his attacks on Joyce. Perhaps she’s doing things well if Slater is trying to discredit her.

National rejuvenation

National did a reasonable job of rejuvenation last term, with a number of MPs resigning, most of whom had minimal political futures. National have also turned over some ministers too, like Simon Power from the first term and Tony Ryal last year.

Andrea Vance has a look through the current ranks to see who might exit this term and who might be on the rise in Reshuffle likely as Nats rejuvenate.

Wellington’s worst-kept secret is that Trade Minister Tim Groser is shortly off to relieve Mike Moore as New Zealand’s ambassador in Washington.

Also likely to be waving goodbye to Parliament in 2017 is Assistant Speaker Lindsay Tisch, whether he likes it or not.

Murray McCully was talked about as a potential retiree before the last election and is a possible but it looks like he remains unwilling to indicate what his intentions are.

Bill English must also be considering his future. He gave up his Clutha-Southland electorate last year and is now a list MP, making it easy to retire without disruption this term.

And who will be looking to rise? As far as rising to the top goes this depends on how long John Key wants to stay, and there’s no sign yet that he wants to give up the top spot.

Amid the wreckage of the Northland by-election, there was conjecture about the damage it would do to the career prospects of Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett, who led the campaign.

After Judith Collins‘ sacking during the Dirty Politics saga, it became accepted Joyce and Bennett were front-runners to replace John Key as leader.

Bennett is probably fairly unscathed but Joyce was the face and the ‘mastermind’ of National’s Northland disaster and following his handling of the Sky City embarrassment he must have damaged his future chances.

Collins has been quietly rebuilding her career and is expected to be reinstated to Cabinet at the next reshuffle, presumably later this year (unless forced by an earlier resignation). She will have support but the Whale Oil taint might be hard to forget,

Vance also lists four up and comers, although three are rookies so may have to wait for promotion.

Alfred Ngaro, Parliament’s first Cook Islander and a thoughtful community worker, is almost certainly next cab off the rank into Cabinet. His campaign to win Te Atatu off Labour’s Phil Twyford has already begun.

I met him early in his first term at a National Party event. He seemed nice but was not very outgoing.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller (a former Zespri and Fonterra high-flier) is not new to politics: he was a staffer to Prime Minister Jim Bolger and has served on National’s list-ranking committee.

Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger, like other female backbenchers, has kept a low profile.

Chris Bishop (list MP), a protege of Joyce and a former tobacco lobbyist, was tipped to rise through the ranks even before he entered Parliament.

So there looks to be scope for rejuvenation in National this term, but the latter three would have to leapfrog quite a few other longer serving MPs.

A big issue for an overall perception of rejuvenation could be whether Key can look revitalised or at least interested. Being Prime Minister is a hard grind. More and more often he looks frustrated or annoyed at what he has to deal with.

Especially if English retires I think it’s likely Key will try and stay on to try for a fourth term.

Justice Minister reignites de Bain debate

Minister of Justice has announced that Cabinet will start from scratch in investigating whether David Bain will be compensated for being imprisoned or not.

This will please all those who relish an excuse to debate the merits of the case.

Press release:

CABINET TO TAKE FRESH LOOK AT BAIN CASE

The Government has agreed to set aside all previous advice relating to David Bain’s compensation claim and conduct a fresh inquiry, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.

In November 2011, former Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie was appointed to provide advice on the claim. He completed his report in August 2012.

After being made aware of concerns raised about Justice Binnie’s report and receiving advice from the Solicitor-General, the then Justice Minister Judith Collins decided to seek a peer review by former High Court judge Dr Robert Fisher. Dr Fisher found that Justice Binnie’s report contained a number of errors and was, therefore, unsafe to rely on.

“Given these events, it’s my view that Cabinet doesn’t have the information in front of it on which it could reasonably reach a decision,” says Ms Adams.

“For that reason, the advice of both Justice Binnie and Dr Fisher will be set aside and I will appoint a new inquirer to conduct a fresh inquiry into Mr Bain’s claim.”

Ms Adams says it’s important that the final decision on Mr Bain’s claim is durable and withstands the close scrutiny the case attracts.

“The New Zealand public rightly expects the Government to make a decision with the full set of facts and reliable advice in front of them. A fresh look will safeguard the integrity of the process and reassure the public that Cabinet will act on the best advice available,” says Ms Adams.

“Despite the further delay, conducting a fresh inquiry is the best approach in the circumstances and enables Mr Bain’s claim to be progressed on a proper and robust basis.”

Mr Bain’s claim for compensation falls outside existing Cabinet guidelines because when his conviction was quashed, a retrial was ordered. However, Cabinet has also reserved a residual discretion to consider claims outside the guidelines in “extraordinary circumstances … where this is in the interests of justice”. To satisfy the test for the payment of compensation that applies in his case, Mr Bain will need to prove his innocence on the balance of probabilities and be able to satisfy Cabinet that the circumstances are sufficiently extraordinary that it would be in the interests of justice for compensation to be paid.

“I have notified Mr Bain’s representatives of Cabinet’s decision and I understand they are comfortable with the process. All parties have agreed to draw a line under what’s happened and move forward in a constructive manner,” says Ms Adams.

Ms Adams will now seek advice on an appropriate inquirer and develop their terms of reference. There will be a further announcement in due course.

Related Documents

“I don’t owe the National party a single thing”

Cameron Slater at Whale Oil:

I am not beholden to the National party. I’m not a member, and as I said standing on a balcony doing a live interview in Israel…Prime Minister’s come and Prime Minister’s go, long after John Key retires I’ll still be here.

I don’t owe the National party a single thing…it is actually the reverse.

But given there is an ongoing campaign of animosity from the senior ranks of the party frankly they can suffer in the stew of their own making.

Meanwhile I’ll continue to tell the truth whether you guys like it or not.

He doesn’t say what he thinks the National Party owe him.

Pete Belt:

I don’t owe the National party a single thing…it is actually the reverse.

…talk about arrogance!

/snigger

These comments are on a lengthy post from (presumably) Belt promoting how wonderful and clever Slater and Whale Oil are in FROM THE PASSENGER SEAT: WHY DOTCOM AND KEY ARE THE SAME. Cavalier pointed out the obvious:

No DotCom and Key are not the same. One is a convicted criminal who is wanted on further serious charges and who is here on false pretenses, having deliberately lied on his residence application. The other is a genuine and ordinary bloke attempting to do his best for our country, even though he doesn’t need (and doesn’t take) the money. I can see the difference clearly.

But mostly Belt was angling at Slater versus Key’s National.

So.  Who do you trust?  Cam’s Slater’s judgement on matters political, or what you personally wish to be true based on less and filtered information?

A silly choice. I don’t “wish to be true’ and I am very wary of trusting Slater.

Purely from a practical point of view, National should be concerned with succession planning.  Key won’t last forever.  We only have to look at Labour to see what happens when nobody is ready to take over after a decade of someone who eliminates all the pretenders to the throne.

Slater is feeling highly aggrieved at his own succession planning being dealt a setback. He blames Key for Judith Collins falling from grace but Collins (aided substantially by Slater) has been the architect of her own fall.

Sure John Key will sometime step down or be dumped.

That leaves opportunites for others to rise in his place. Time will tell whether the party or the public will approve of Collins should she rehabilitate, and whether they will tolerate with Slater style political manipulation.

The National Party owes Slater nothing – surely he doesn’t expect a handout of power.

And Collins has to earn her way back into favour, which won’t be easy. Once tainted it is hard to erase the risks.

Bain given new hope for compensation

David Bain has been given some hope of getting his compensation claim considered. He had previously hit a l;egal brick wall in Judith Collins but the new Justice Minister Amy Adams seems prepared to deal with it,

Stuff: Bain has a fresh chance for compensation

David Bain has been given fresh hope in his fight for compensation after court wranglings came to an end.

The Government and Bain’s lawyers have agreed to end judicial review proceedings over a report that suggested he was innocent of the murder of his family.

It means the decision to award him compensation for wrongful conviction and for the 13 years he spent behind bars will go back before Cabinet ministers.

Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the move this afternoon.

“This discontinuance does not resolve Mr Bain’s underlying compensation claim, just the separate judicial review process,” she said.

“I plan to discuss next steps with my Cabinet colleagues over the coming weeks. 

“While the details of the agreement are confidential, I can confirm that there was no contribution made towards Mr Bain’s compensation claim as part of this discontinuance.”

Bain’s bid for redress stalled in early 2013 after a row over a report commissioned by then justice minister Judith Collins.

Written by retired Canadian judge Justice Ian Binnie, it found that Bain was innocent of the murder of his parents, brother and two sisters “on the balance of probabilities”.

Collins publicly questioned the findings and ordered a review by High Court judge Robert Fisher. Fisher pointed to errors in Binnie’s findings.

Bain’s legal team took the matter to the High Court and asked for a judicial review.

And they now seem to be making some progress.

I don’t have an opinion on whether Bain deserves compensation.

I’m not neutral on the Bain murders, but I’m uncertain. There doesn’t seem to be compeling evidence either way. And from what I’ve seen some evidence points one way and other evidence points another.

The fact is that legally Bain has been acquitted. And he’s trying to get financial redress.

If he is innocent (and that’s a distinct possibility) then he has a crap twenty years, having had the rest of his family killed or topped, copping all the blame and being locked away for years.

If he killed his family (and that’s also still a possibility) he has either got a massive cheel seeking compensation.

Or he’s been swept up in the Karam campaign and doesn’t know how to tell them to leave it now he’s at least out of prison.

I’m sure others will have views on this, many feel strongly one way or the other.

Collins should return as Minister but Williamson unlikely

In an interview on One News’ Breakfast yesterday John Key indicated the chances of Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson returning to ministerial positions.

Somebody who does have a closer relationship with Cameron Slater, no doubt ongoing, is Judith Collins…

John Key: Yeah.

…and it make have been what, you know, what led to her demise effectively by the end of it but we know it was. 

John Key: Yeah.

Tell us about you know you have opened the door a wee bit since being re-elected, or rather since she was cleared…

John Key: Yes.

…to saying one day we’ll see her back. What about herself and Maurice Williamson, I mean realistically   2015, could that be a year that one or both of them could be back up there in the powerhouse with you?

John Key: It’s possible. I mean I think if you take, they’re in different situations probably in their career.

I mean Maurice is getting near the end of his career, um, he’s been a very good Minister …

But he has shown that he would quite like…

John Key: Yeah yeah and he’d like and he’d like, look I think he’d like to do other things. I mean but I’m just saying he’s, I think he’s our longest serving MP, um it doesn’t mean he hasn’t got lots of other good things to do, I’m just slightly different stages.

A fairly clear signal that Williamson should be looking for other things to do.

John Key: In the case of Judith, Judith was a very good Minister. You know people, people attack her and criticise her and yep, she had the persona of being Crusher Collins if you like, but lots of political parties have people that have, you know a slightly tougher personality.

I mean it didn’t stop Trevor Mallard from being a Minister the whole way through, and lots of other people.

The point is that she was actually cleared of the very thing that she stood down for. So can she come back? I think the answer to that is yes.

It sounds like Collins will be strongly considered the next time Key reshuffles his Cabinet. That’s likely to be about a year away at least, unless there’s a resignation in the meantime.

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