Peters says having phone records was 100% wrong

On Firstline on Friday Winston Peters talked about his sources for his accusations against Peter Dunne “from Fairfax, the institution itself” and “the second one was in, ah, the Beehive”.

There are some important issues raised here, along with some typically dubious claims by Peters.

You’ve been talking about these phone records for a while. Were you leaked those?

Peters (after a pause) : I know what’s in those records.

How do you know what’s in those records?

Peters: Well it’s my job to know.

And how, but, you know, it’s your job to know…

Peters: Well, you’re a journalist, you don’t tell sources and nor do I. You can’t surely be offended by the fact that sources are being attacked by means of improper acquisition of someone’s phone records like a journalist, and then demand an MP give you his.

No, but I’m just trying to…

Peters: This were it all started.

I’m trying to establish whether there has been a second leak of the GCSB report, and also the actions surrounding, whether there’s been any leak from the Parliamentary Service as to how that inquiry is conducted by David Henry.

Peters: Well first of all look, Peter Dunne was involved in five leaks, four to do with the GCSB, and one of those leaks shades quickly into whether or not there is an act of the criminal law or whether the criminal law is involved. It’s a very very serious issue and people are sort of sliding by that. But ah, I can’t tell you what other leaks were going on, but um,

Well, you can if they’re in relation to information that you’re getting about what’s going in terms of that hunt for the leak.

Peters: Let me tell you this. My first source of information was from Fairfax, the institution itself. And the second one was in, ah, the Beehive.

The Fairfax “source” is probably nothing more than going back through publications seeing what was written by Andrea Vance. Fairfax should not have known what was happening with the Henry inquiry, and could not have had access to the phone records.

A Fairfax journalist was being investigated so it is most unlikely they would be leaked to, on the contrary, Fairfax are complaining about not being informed about what was being investigated.

The claim there is a leak in the Beehive is more serious.

It was not Peters’ job to know what was in the records. It would be very alarming if he was given access to records of communications between a rival MP and a journalist, from a Prime Ministerial inquiry.

The Privileges Committee should be investigating this.

A side issue – Peters has not backed up his claim that “Peter Dunne was involved in five leaks” with any evidence. If there is no evidence it can be seen as a baseless attempt to smear, a Peters trademark. Dunne has totally rejected these accusations – see Peters accuses Dunne of five leaks.

There was also some rank hypocrisy from Peters.

Let’s go back to the Privileges Committee, and whether there should be more done about the leaking of Andrea Vance’s phone records. Do you believe that it requires, ah, a sort of a review of how these inquiries are done, and how, and and really, I mean, the so called snooping and spying on journalists around Parliament.

Peters: Well first of all, what happened to Andrea Vance is inexcusable. That cannot happen in a free society, and so it’s ah both, as to her movements and her phone records, that was one hundred percent wrong. But when it comes to  a Minister, which Mr Dunne was, and the Prime Minister has put a statement out that minister’s can be questioned, if they demurred they should have said so, but they didn’t.

What happened to Andrea Vance was inexcusable. Her communication and security records were inexcusably accessed. She was inexcusably implicated by the Henry inquiry.

And she was inexcusably accused and smeared by Peters, in association with Peter Dunne.

In a Q + A interview Peters said “ I’m not going to head down that salacious path” with a clear and deliberate salacious implication.

And saying “That cannot happen in a free society, and so it’s ah both, as to her movements and her phone records, that was one hundred percent wrong” is effectively saying he is one hundred percent wrong if “I know what’s in those records”. He said it’s his job to know what’s in the phone records.

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