Goff fibbed again?

In trying to diminish his responsibility for leaking the Gwyn SIS report Phil Goff has highlighted a discrepancy between his and Andrew Little’s claims.

Goff fibbed to Radio New Zealand about not lying or he has put his leader Andrew Little in an embarrassing position – actually this is awkward for Little regardless.

This what he said to Radio NZ yesterday:

“I didn’t lie about it, but I didn’t pretend that I didn’t make the comments and I apologised for being in breach of her embargo. I should have honoured it to the letter.”

- Goff off the hook over leak

And this is what Andrew Little was reported as saying in defence of Goff last month:

“He’s given me those assurances, I’m satisfied with that,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“He hasn’t given the report to anybody, he declined media interviews until the report was released at 10am yesterday, so I don’t know where they came from and I’m satisfied they didn’t come from Phil Goff.”

- Goff: SIS report leak ‘perfectly appropriate’

Someone has not been truthful.

Goff had presumably have talked to Little about whether he had leaked or not and will have known that Little defended him. Emphasising now that “I didn’t lie about it, but I didn’t pretend that I didn’t make the comments” highlights the discreoancy between Goff’s and Little’s claims.

Goff has put Andrew Little in a very difficult position here. The time of year might reduce the spotlight but it’s not a good look for a new era for Labour’s caucus under Little’s leadership.

It also makes Inspector General Cheryl Gwyn letting Goff off look weak when he then appears to mislead with impunity.

UPDATE: I posted on this at The Standard and a typical response – they have launched into attacks on me with little attempt to contest the facts.

One thing they’re expert at is drawing attention to things they don’t like.

After a pile of petty dirt it probably won’t be long before they accuse me of disrupting the thread.

UPDATE2: Tracey calls it as it is

When it was confirmed yesterday by goffs apology, i rolled my eyes. Just as I did when I saw he has a SST column. Little needs to do a Key and get Goff to state NOW that he is NOT standing at the next election.

IMO, Little saying nothing yesterday, to my knowledge, leaves open the strong suggestion that Little knew about the leak and it was part of a strategy.

So, PG, I deplore dishonesty in our leaders, and every elected MP imo is supposed to be a leader. It undermines our democracy and the trust people have in our systems.

If I were Little I would have announced yesterday that Mr Goff is gone.

And:

Unless Little intends carrying on the awful tradition of planned leaking that some of our pollies indulge in, this was a chance to put his foot down.

It is unfathomable that Goff didnt know exactly what the media would do, sack him, show you have a genuine standard.

Goff, leaks, lies and sincerity

(Further to Goff apologises, media warned over leak)

Last month details of the Gwyn/SIS report were leaked to media the day before it could legally be publicised. Phil Goff was an obvious suspect but he was cleared by new Labour leader Andrew Little.

“He’s given me those assurances, I’m satisfied with that,” he said on Firstline this morning.

“He hasn’t given the report to anybody, he declined media interviews until the report was released at 10am yesterday, so I don’t know where they came from and I’m satisfied they didn’t come from Phil Goff.”

- Goff: SIS report leak ‘perfectly appropriate’

However it was later revealed that Goff had been the leaker, so either Goff lied to Little or Little lied to media. And Goff was unrepentant.

“What I did was perfectly appropriate, if the journalists decided to run information given to them in confidence then you should raise it with your colleagues,” Goff told Radio New Zealand at the time.

Goff had changed his stance by last week.

Goff signalled in an interview last week, that he had apologised .

“I beat the gun on the embargo. I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

“I’ve apologised to the inspector-general. The ball is in her court [as to legal action]. I’ll take it on the chin, whatever her decision is. I haven’t tried to lie about it or mislead people on it.

“[I] shouldn’t have done it…I’ll accept any consequences.”

Today Inspector General Cheryl Gwyn said Goff’s leak was no appropriate.

“All witnesses, including Mr Goff, were subject to a confidentiality order of the inspector-general,”  IGIS said in a statement.

“The order was made to ensure fairness and the integrity of the inquiry. The disclosure of the report by Mr Goff was in breach of the order.”

And Goff has ‘unreservedly’ apologised.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has accepted Labour MP Phil Goff’s “unreserved apology” for leaking a Security Intelligence Service report to media.

Mr Goff gave a verbal and written apology and Ms Gwyn says no further action will be taken.

Goff apologises for SIS report leak

And Goff has said:

And I guess my enthusiasm led me to make some more comment than I should have.

That downplays the fact that he breached a confidentiality agreement.

I gave information that was not going to damage anybody.

In his opinion. Is that Goff’s Law of Leak Justification?

Ah what happened in John Key’s office was that that was part of a smear campaign.

So when someone else does it they are smearing, when Goff does it he’s just a bit enthusiastic.

The sincerity of Goff’s apology looks very dubious. First he (or Little) lied about leaking. Then he was unrepentant. Then he “unreservedly apologised”, followed soon afterwards by making excuses and turning it into political point scoring.

Andrew Little has a bit of work to do to reform his caucus.He generally sounds sincere but he will be damaged by association and collaboration with leaks, lies and insincerity like this.

Little shouldn’t be satisfied with what has come from Goff on this both last month and today.

Today Goff has apologised ‘sincerely’ to the

Goff apologises, media warned over leak

Phil Goff has given a “full and unreserved” apology for leaking details of the Gwyn report. And the media has also been warned, presumably for their complicity.

Goff apologises for leak

Labour MP Phil Goff will not face any sanctions for leaking the details of a report by the spy watchdog a day before it was publicly released.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn said this morning she had accepted Mr Goff’s “full and unreserved” apology.

“The Inspector-General will not take the matter any further,” she said in a statement.

Mr Goff breached a confidentiality order last month by disclosing details about her report on the Security Intelligence Service’s release of information to blogger Cameron Slater.

Ms Gwyn said no classified information was disclosed, but Mr Goff’s leak led to premature media reporting on the content of the report, “to the detriment of other witnesses to the inquiry, particularly those adversely affected by the report”.

This looks like a warning slap over Goff’s knuckles and a warning that tolerance of political leaking has changed substantially. Goff has a record of leaking with impunity over the years.If he does it again it would deserve severe sanctions.

The Inspector-General would be taking steps to ensure greater clarity around release protocols for future reports, and had also written to media organisations to remind them of their obligations under the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act.

“The Inspector-General has significant powers to inquire into sensitive matters, and make adverse findings which may have a material impact on individuals.

“The obligations around confidentiality are necessary to ensure natural justice and fairness. It is important these obligations are respected.”

And that looks like a strong warning to the press, who have been complicit in leaks probably since Gutenberg’s day.

The media have a responsibility to be fair in their reporting. They knowingly reported cherry picked aspects of a report they would have known was still confidential, in effect enabling Goff’s illegal misuse of the report.

The Inspector-General seems intent on enforcing compliance and has effectively warned Goff (and all MPs) plus the media.

If reports are leaked illegally in the future strong action will need to be taken against offenders or we will revert to impunity as usual.

It’s worth remembering Goff’s initial reaction to his leaking of the report:

“I gave an outline of some relevant points that I said cleared my integrity,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“What I did was perfectly appropriate. If the journalists decided to run information given to them in confidence, then you should raise it with your colleagues.”

Without apology he openly admitted leaking and tried to blame it all on the media.

Good Goff debut at SST on Middle East issues

Phil Goff’s first column in the Sunday Star Times is on the Middle East and what we are doing or may do about the conflicts there. Phil Goff: Arms not the answer is a good balanced debut.

New Zealand has rushed through legislation designed to counter any threat from Islamic State or from terrorism generally. One of the changes is to give government greater powers to stop people travelling overseas to fight for Islamic State.

Generally I support that. We should try to stop any New Zealander joining an organisation that is routinely committing crimes against humanity. But it is important that we don’t go further in restricting the rights of New Zealanders to fight for causes that are legitimate.

Supporting restrictions but with some reservations and warnings is a sensible position for a senior opposition MP who when leader was involved in security briefings.

The new surveillance laws also must not be used in a way that unfairly targets the Muslim community. People I know in that community are already telling me they are suffering abuse from others because they are wrongly associated with Islamic State.

Sound security without resorting to unfair targeting and witch hunts is important.

The low threat of terrorism here is not because of the anti-terrorist laws but because we are largely a harmonious and inclusive society. That deprives terrorist groups of a recruiting ground.

The nature of New Zealand Society is our best defence.

The Government is also planning to send 40 to 100 soldiers to help train the Iraqi army to fight against Islamic State.

I don’t support that.

Fair enough. I don’t know enough about the pros and cons to make a judgement.

But risk and sacrifice can only be justified when there is a good reason, a clear and achievable objective and an exit strategy.

Unfortunately those providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East can do so at great risk too.

We shouldn’t do nothing, especially with threats like Islamic State, but we also shouldn’t become involved in unwinnable conflicts nor should we provoke unnecessarily.

We can play a more constructive role. We are now on the UN Security Council. We should be pushing for international efforts to starve Islamic State of combatants, weaponry and funding. Rather than military support, we would achieve more by providing greater humanitarian aid to help the millions of refugees in the region.

I’m sure those things will be considered. Our seat on the UN Security Council is in part thanks to Goff and David Shearer and Helen Clark. Our foreign policy has been and should be as much as possible a cross party effort.

Goff to write for Sunday Star Times

Last week Judith Collins started a weekly column for Sunday Star Times. It was promised that someone from ther left would also have a column, and today they announced that it would be Phil Goff.

New columnist Phil Goff goes toe-to-toe with Judith Collins

When we announced last week that Judith Collins would be writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, it excited comment across the broadcast and digital media.

1) Love her or hate her, Judith Collins is without doubt one of the most uncompromising, no-holds-barred personalities in New Zealand.

We think it’s time to respect our readers’ intelligence and let them make up their own minds on what she has to say for herself.

2) This is not new and shocking. Indeed, there is plenty of healthy precedent for senior MPs writing columns for the country’s big papers – among them, David Lange, Simon Upton, Deborah Coddington, John Tamihere, Jim Anderton and George Hawkins.

3) Finally, for those who believe commissioning Judith Collins was an outrage, I have more bad news … as foreshadowed, I’ve taken on a second MP, too. Phil Goff will go toe-to-toe with Collins in the Sunday Star-Times every week. Goff, once the leader of the Labour Party, has now been moved off new leader Andrew Little’s front benches. Like Judith Collins, he is freed of the constraints of collective responsibility – both of them can call it like they see it. If that means they sometimes criticise their own leaders, so be it. This weekend, the former foreign affairs minister will examine whether Kiwis should be allowed to go take up arms in foreign wars like those in Syria and Iraq.

David Farrar posted on this, saying that after Collins’ first column was published “The outrage on Twitter was hilarious.” It was.

And on this announcement he said “This is hilarious as many on the left regard Goff as a right wing sell out. I look forward to more howls of outrage.”

And sure enough the far left aren’t happy, or still aren’t happy (are they ever?)

At The Standard Phil Ure:

but..but..two rightwing neo-lib/fuck-the-poor warmongers..

..what will they find to disagree about..?

And Mark:

What – Two right wingers having a column in a Sunday paper. You would have thought that they would have gone for someone from the left for balance but why break the habits of a lifetime.

And I checked out one who spluttered the most on Twitter, Giovanni Tiso. But he seems to have taken offence at me posting Giovanni Tiso et al versus Judith Collins a few days ago, when I tried to view his Twitter account I got “You are blocked from following @gtiso and viewing @gtiso’s Tweets.”

Many on the hard left are intolerant of different opinions and especially of criticism. Tiso would probably shut down most of the media and most of the Internet if he could. He tries – after the Collins column last weekend he started a campaign against the Sunday Star Times.

But it’s not hard to find out what his response to the Goff news was.

@gtiso responds predictably:

HAHAHAHAHAHA! oh my God.

Milne must have been on the phone for like six days straight until they got to Goff. Fuck me.

A hard-hitting left wing politician! HAHAHAHAHAH!!! I swear they are trying to kill me. They’ll find my corpse under my desk. HAHAHAHA!!!

I’m dying over here. Goff. Christ. Mr TPP! Hehehehe… [wipes tear] Okay I’m good now.

He might have fancied his own chances of being a left enough balance, but having tried to organise a subscription cancelling campaign against the SST I doubt he would be considered favourably. They are unlikely to pander to the perpetually pissed off.

I doubt whether Tiso and others will be happy until and the government conform to their ideals. Which will be never.

Do everyone a favour and prosecute Goff

Phil Goff has admitted to what appears to be an illegal act – he leaked parts of a report given to him confidentially in advance of it’s official release by the Inspector-General for Intelligence. His apparent motive was to put his selected bits of the story into a favourable light.
Goff has a history of being involved in significant leaks. He – like other politicians – leak because they can get away with it. In this case Goff seems to have blatantly ignored the law, assuming impunity.

For the good of our democracy the Police should prosecute Goff. It’s time a stand was made against MPs breaking the law when it suits them.

Prosecuting Goff would do our democracy a huge favour. It would make it clear that MPs are not above the law.

It would also do the National Government a favour, but that’s simple collateral benefit.

And it would do Labour a favour if it prompts Goff to either resign from Parliament or stand down at the last election. He seems to be well past his political used by date.

It would be a major snub for Goff and he would probably feel bitter about it but it would also probably do him a favour and get him out of politics. He seems jaded by accumulated bitterness, so a little more bitterness won’t hurt much.

MPs should set an example and abide by the law, and if not they should be made an example of. Goff is as deserving as any for making a stand against MPs who ignore the law.

It would do everyone a favour. Especially our democracy.

Summary of the Glyn report

I haven’t read the Gwyn report, I haven’t had the time. However ‘georgebolwing’ has read it and posted a summary at Kiwiblog.

Having read Cheryl Gwyn’s report, my take on what happened is as follows (sorry, this is very long, but complex issues will cause that):

a) On Monday 14 March 2011, the Director of the SIS met with Leader of the Opposition; the SIS’s Security Intelligence Report (SIR) on Israeli issue was included in Director’s agenda for that meeting (we’ll get to whether this constitutes a “briefing” later);

b) on 21 July 2011, in response to the question “If the SIS is still investigating this matter, would you as Leader of the Opposition and being on the committee that oversees the SIS expect to be told?”, Phil Goff said : “I would, actually. I get briefed, regularly, by the Security Intelligence Service and sit on the Committee that oversees the Security Intelligence Service. … This hasn’t come before the select committee. It’s not been part of any briefing to me.”. (Emphasis added).

c) knowing that he had received a briefing on the matter, and suspecting that the Leader of the Opposition had too, the PM had his office check with the NZSIS whether there had been a briefing. The Director of the SIS told the PM, over the phone, that Goff had “received the same briefing” as the PM.

d) Mr Phil de Joux, the PM’s deputy Chief of Staff, with the PM’s authority, also spoke to the NZSIS at this time to confirm that The Leader of the Opposition had received a briefing. He was given a description of the briefing documents and the date of those documents, by the the Deputy Director of the NZSIS on 22 July.

e) it transpires that the way the PM was routinely briefed by the Director and the way the Leader of the Opposition are briefed was materially different. With the PM, the Director ticks off each item on the agenda, and the PM, at the end of the meeting, signs the agenda, signifying that he has, indeed, been “briefed” on each item. With the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader never gets to see the agenda, doesn’t counter-signed it and the director makes a note, that he keeps on file and never gives to the Leader, of anything that needs to be recorded.

f) thinking that when the Director said that Goff had “received the same briefing as the PM”, the Director meant “received the same type of briefing, with the ticking off the agenda items and counter-signing”, the Pm decided that he had a “gotcha” and went on the attack. In a television interview broadcast on 24 July 2011, the Prime Minister said that the Director had told him the Leader of the Opposition had received the same briefing that he, the Prime Minister, had received.

g) faced with this statement from the PM, Goff sought a meting with the Director, which took place on 25 July. At that meeting, the Leader and the Director discussed the briefing. Phil Goff made notes, which said “Mr T Recollected – flicked thru a number of issues which included looking at Israelis in Chch at time of EQ but not dwelt on it. Mr Tucker said he had a report on the Israelis but having now looked at it I am certain I had never read it. It was an initial report dated 8 March which was inconclusive about the activities at that stage of the investigation. I have not seen nor been offered the subsequent reports on the matter.” The director was given a copy and wrote on the top of it “Note made by Mr Goff during our meeting on 25 July 11. This is our agreed position. WT 25 July.( Emphasis added. “WT” means Warren Tucker. Ed.).”

h) On the same day, Phil de Joux, told Jason Eade of the PM’s office of the nature of the briefing given to Phil Goff and the dates. He suggested to Eade ion that it might prompt an OIA request for those documents. Mr Ede then provided that information to Mr Slater, discussed the terms of the OIA request with Mr Slater and provided Mr Slater with draft blog posts concerning the issue.

i) in subsequent press comments, Phil Goff started to used the “position” he thought he had agreed with the Director: that they had “flicked through” a number of issues, but Goff had never read the document.

j) Tucker thought that in doing so, Goff was attacking his integrity. He wanted to put the record straight.

k) the NZSIS received three requests for material about the briefing given to Goff, one from Cameron Slater (expressed as an OIA) and two from news media, in the form of requests for comment. All three requests went to the same general inquiries e-mail address.

l) the two requests from the news media were sent to NZSIS press officers, and were declined, as part of normal NZSIS practice not to comment on operational matters;

m) Slater’s request went to the NZSIS’s OIA officer, who assembled most of the relevant papers (not the hand written note from Phil Goff — this becomes key later) and recommended that they not be released on national security grounds.

n) the Director told his staff that he was inclined to release the documents, with significant withholding, and work was put in train by the NZSIS’s general counsel to redact the documents, to remove material not covered by the request and material covered that was to be released.

o) without going into detail, the documents released were inaccurate, incomplete and misleading (Gwyn’s words).

p) when informed by the Director of the impending released, Goff is angry and asks to see the material to be released. Tucker refuses, so Goff has to put in his own OIA to get copies.

q) Shit hits fan. Cameron Slater, armed with inaccurate, incomplete and misleading information, makes inaccurate, incomplete and misleading comments, which are picked up by others.

My conclusions are as follows:

a) Goff was caught out making a statement that was inaccurate;

b) the PM and his office thought they had a “gotcha” and facilitated released of documents to embarrass Goff;

c) the Director and Goff disagree on some aspects of what transpired and their is no way of reconciling that;

d) the Director released information that was inaccurate, incomplete and misleading, and in doing so was probably in breach of a very special statutory obligation that he (and few other public servants have), which is that he “must take all reasonable steps to ensure that … the Security Intelligence Service does not take any action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party”.

From what I know about it that seems a reasonable summary. And ‘mikenmild’, who stands out from the right-leaners at Kiwiblog, says “I agree with george’s analysis”.

I remember that Goff publicly attacked Warren Tucker, presumably presuming that Tucker had no right of reply,

But Tucker gave himself a right of reply via the OIA request, providing Slater with “inaccurate, incomplete and misleading” information that was used to publicly attack Goff. Tucker claims he was “between a rock and a hard place”.

Phil Goff: “please explain” spleak

The media have now Phil Goff’s leaking of confidential information prior to the release of the Gwyn report, at the instigation of a “please explain” request to Goff after it was claimed and it was later admitted he gave information to journalists.

Stuff reports:

The inspector-general of intelligence and security yesterday issued a “please explain” request to Goff over why aspects of her report were given to journalists before it was released.

Gwyn said she was aware of Goff’s statements that he had disclosed some information concerning findings in her report.

She would be seeking further information from Goff and others. A conviction for a breach under the IGIS Act could trigger a fine of up to $50,000 against a company or corporation or a $10,000 fine and a year in jail, or both, for an individual.

Goff leaked selected parts of the report in an obvious attempt to pre-empt the publicity the report would receive. A classic spin leak (spleak).

Goff has a history of leaking – see “Goff is a serial leaker”. And that’s just significant ones that are known about.

Prosecutions for breaking the law involving politics are not common, hence the continuation of leaking with apparent impunity.

In this case it is very ironic as the Gwyn report looked in to the passing on of information for political purposes. It turns out that the report found nothing illegal about the information passed on to Slater, but Goff seems to have blatantly broken the law trying to set the narrative around the report.

Goff’s spleaking may have been counter productive anyway. Media and blogs got excited about the damage the report would deliver for Key and National and then the report delivered far less – and was called a whitewash by some.

“Goff is a serial leaker”

Keeping Stock comments at Kiwiblog on Phil Goff’s record as a leaker, the latest example the leaking of

Phil Goff was allegedly warned by the police recently for breaching a suppression order over the circumstances of the death of an NZDF member. Now it seems that Goff is responsible for knowingly breaching the embargo on the Gwyn report, in contravention of the instructions of Ms Gwyn when advance copies were released; potentially a criminal offence, punishable by up to one year in prison. Here’s how Bill English described it yesterday:

This is the man who leaked the findings of this report yesterday in direct breach of the confidentiality order that he signed, which states that it is an offence to leak it. So why would the public believe anything that the Labour members say about this report? This is the confidentiality order, and on the bottom it says: “Received and acknowledged”. That is, when you give evidence you sign it to say that you acknowledge that you are under a confidentiality order and that you acknowledge that it will be an offence if you breach it. Despite him personally acknowledging that, he leaked it.

Phil Goff is a serial leaker; “gone by lunchtime”, MFAT, NZDF suppression order and now this. I hope this matter is referred to the Police, and that on this occasion, it is decided that is IS in the public interest to prosecute Mr Goff, if for no other reason than to prove that NO New Zealander, even a 27-year veteran of Parliament, is above the law.

Will the media pick up on that?

Somewhere between Key and Goff/Norman/Hager

John Key hasn’t dealt with the fallout from “Dirty Politics” well. He has batted off many accusations, that’s normal for playing politics. But he should accept some responsibility for what has been played out of his office via Jason Ede.

Some of the claims against Key have been overplayed. Anthony Robins at The Standard in John Key vs the truth:

RNZ sums up:

Prime Minister John Key is refusing to accept there was a link between his office and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, despite the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) watchdog finding his official passed on information.

Key thinks he can simple lie and refuse to accept facts. He can’t get away with it. Can he?

It depends on what “link” means.

Certainly Key’s office – and Key himself – have had contact with Slater and have used him for playing political games – and Slater has used Ede and Key for his own agendas.

But there is no proof yet that an out of the ordinary smear campaign was orchestrated by Key through his office.

Many of the mainstream media are not neutral bystanders here. They have been used far more than Slater has been used for a long time, by Prime Ministers, their offices and by other party leaders and their offices.

The question that none of them seem to be asking is was the collusion with Slater any different to what politicians have done with journalists for yonks? He may have received favourable feeding in the Goff/SIS case but one channel or newspaper often get political exclusives from informants. So was this much different to politics/media as usual?

And how different was it to Hager playing the media when he released his book? And since?

And how different is it to Goff leaking favourable (to him) parts of the Gwyn report a day before it was due to be released? Did he leak to all media equally? Or did he feed journalists who he thought would promote his spin best?

“Dirty Politics” is supposed to be “Key evil, the Left exemplary”, and mainstream media are aghast – to an extent at Whale Oil stealing their thunder and doing little different to what they have done with politicians for much longer.

I’d like to see Key and Goff and Norman to all own up to playing politics, and playing it dirty at times. Hager and Norman won’t think they are part of the dirty brigade but they involve themselves in gamesmanship, promoting selective facts and over the top attacks as the other lot.

I don’t expect Cameron Slater to change his spots, but they are polka dot in effectiveness now anyway.

Will anyone in the media take a step back and look at their complicity in all of this? That’s just about as unlikely as Whale Oil becoming modest and reasonable.

Somewhere between Key and Goff/Norman/Hager there is some decent, honest and balanced politics, but it’s not evident at the moment.

Most of the public are likely to see this as “a pox on all their parties, press officers, journalists and bloggers”.

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