Sir Bruce Ferguson – headhunted for interview?

It seems unusual for the former boss of a secret spy organisation to have a TV interview revealing he still has sources on the inside.

Former GCSB head Sir Bruce Ferguson speaks out

Ex-GCSB director Sir Bruce Ferguson told Campbell Live he believes Mr Fletcher did not go through the same selection process as he and previous heads had.

Mr Fletcher has no military background and was shoulder-tapped by Mr Key who asked him to apply for the position.

Sir Bruce says he knew of one of the people who was shortlisted for the job by the State Services Commission, but “then at the 11th hour was told ‘don’t come to an interview, we’ve already selected a candidate'”.

Previous heads of the Government spy agency had military backgrounds which were important for the job, he says. He is concerned selection process did not take that into account.

“The State Services Commissioner is entrusted with running an apolitical selection process. From what I hear it appears that may not have happened and if that didn’t happen then I find that disturbing.”

Sir Bruce says morale at the GCSB was “as low as ever”.

“That’s not just because of this, the Kim Dotcom episode has had a significant impact on the bureau too.”

Watch video for the full interview.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has responded to some of this in a press conference:

A military or intelligence background is not essential for the top GCSB roll.

Disappointed in GCSB comments made by Sir Bruce Fergusson.

Rennie said  it was not true that candidates with experience were dumped at the last minute, as Ferguson claimed.

“Bruce has misunderstood the process and hasn’t informed himself about what happened.

“Bruce was claiming that certain people had been shortlisted and not interviewed in favour of Mr Fletcher; this is not true.”

(Stuff and 3 News)

Last night Rennie had said:

“I am outraged that there has baseless attacks on the credibility of Mr Fletcher’s appointment,” Rennie said.

At Kiwiblog David Farrar is “fascinated that a former GCSB Director went on Campbell Live (a good scoop for them) and criticised the selection process of Ian Fletcher” in More on Fletcher appointment.

And a KB commenter davidp says:

Ferguson implied that he has sources in GCSB that let him know what is going on inside the agency. He definitely seemed upset that that the role wasn’t given to an ex-military person as a retirement posting. Should GCSB staff be leaking internal matters outside the agency, even if to a previous staff member? I think that needs to be investigated, and who ever is leaking to Ferguson should be held to account.

I think that’s an important point.

Which pretty much sums up the matter: GCSB has been a retirement home for retired military officers. That needs to change. They’re pissed about it and are trying to undermine the Director. And then along comes Robertson, Labour’s Spokesman for Kim Dotcom Affairs with his agenda of pushing the fat German’s interests.

Surprise, surprise – power plays and politics.

Not a surpise – that Grant Robertson is involved.

But it is a surprise that the ex boss of the GCSB is publicly discussing sources he says he still has within the secret agency. You don’t need a military background to see the problem here.

Was Ferguson head hunted for the interview? Or did he volunteer his secret inside information?

Did Grant Robertson play a part in organising his support? So far Robertson has been “lying by omission” if he hasn’t been fully open about what appeared to be a close connecting between Ferguson’s interview and the attention Robertson gave it last night.