John Key has apologised to Cameron Slater for releasing a personal email. Stuff reports John Key says sorry to Whale Oil.
The prime minister has apologised to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater over the release of an email that forced Justice Minister Judith Collins’ resignation.
An email from Slater, obtained and released by Key, implicated Collins in the smear against her own official, saying she had been “gunning” for SFO director Adam Feeley.
Collins resigned, insisting she would clear her name. Key called an inquiry. Slater countered by lodging a privacy complaint against the prime minister for disclosing a personal email.
The email indicated Feeley may have been the target of a campaign to undermine him involving two bloggers, Cathy Odgers and Slater, and seemingly endorsed by Collins.
Justice Lester Chisholm is due to present his report to the prime minister this week. It is likely to clear Collins of any illegal actions. However, the bloggers may be the subject of criticism.
Despite this, Key has been forced to say sorry to Slater and Key’s office has confirmed: “The Prime Minister recently wrote to Mr Slater to apologise.”
But he stood by his actions. “The Prime Minister believes, however, it was in the public interest to release the email in question publicly,” a spokeswoman said.
The Prime Minister’s Office said it would not release the letter as it related to a privacy issue, but it was up to Slater to decide if he wished to make it public.
Slater yesterday agreed to issue a copy of the letter.
In it, Key says there was “intense media and public interest in matters concerning you and Judith Collins, following the publication of the book Dirty Politics”, creating an “election issue”.
Slater’s email raised serious questions about Collins’ conduct, he says. “In my view the reasons for Ms Collins’ resignation were of real and legitimate public concern, and it was in the public interest that the fullest possible factual background be available.”
But Key acknowledges the release of the email provoked increased media scrutiny of Slater and his family. “I regret any harm that may have been caused to you or your family by the release of the email, and hope that this letter may help to bring this matter to a close.”
The report from an inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against the boss of the Serious Fraud Office is due out soon (by Friday 28th).
Neither Collins nor the bloggers were willing to comment before the report was released.