Key sidesteps Beckham questions

Prime Minister John Key won't confirm or deny reports that he called football superstar David Beckham as "thick as bats***" during a visit to Dunedin's St Hilda's school.

Key has made headlines across the world for the alleged comments about the former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar in front of a group of students on Friday.

St Hilda's principal Melissa Bell was not available for comment this morning.

But this morning Mr Key refused to comment about whether or not he insulted Beckham.

When asked by TV One Breakfast host Rawdon Christie if he made the comment, Key replied: "What I'm saying is somebody has overheard a personal conversation and that's their recollection of it.

"I'm not going to engage in the discussion about it - it's their view. It wasn't an open forum, the person thought they overheard me say something."

Key told Newstalk ZB all is not what it seemed over his reported comments, and he didn't owe anyone an apology.

Talking to Mike Hosking, he again would not deny the "bats***" comments, and would not be drawn into discussing the issue.

"It's probably not quite the way you see it in the paper. It was a private conversation. I was talking to a few people and that's what he thought he heard."

Key allegedly made the comments about the LA Galaxy midfielder while talking to students at Dunedin's St Hilda's Collegiate on Friday, according to a Radio New Zealand report.

The story has been widely reported on in the UK, but also in Australia, the US, India and Malaysia.

Britain's best-selling tabloid newspaper The Sun led with the story.

"The PM said Becks, 37, had been very friendly, but then cruelly claimed that the LA Galaxy star wasn't particularly bright," Gary O'Shea wrote.


Pretty funny really

John Key is routinely called worse things in the media. It's ironic he's been called on this, actually. Next thing David Shearer will say there was a video tape but that he hasn't got a copy himself.

Key's comments remembered

I'd be at a loss to recall precisely what words and expressions I had used in an unscripted talk.  If any expression  I used was particularly striking to the listeners I think their report would be more reliable.  This applies most of all when an expression is unexpected,  or a metaphor familiar to the speaker's age and social group but not to those of the listeners.  

Some of the expressions my parents' generation used would be shocking today for instance "touch of the tar-brush" and even their "polite" term half-caste. Likewise  they would have been appalled by the casual use of swear-words in public, by women what's more! So John Key may have said something that is no big deal thus unmemorable within his peer group.  Ask several separate members of his audience if you want to find out what he said.

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