Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater is backing his mate
Judith Collins, who has resigned over an email suggesting she
was involved in a plan to oust the former head of the Serious
Fraud Office while she was Police Minister.
Mr Slater said this afternoon that he had embellished Ms
Collins' role in an email he had written, in which he stated
that Ms Collins was "gunning for" former SFO head Adam Feeley
The email has thrown a grenade into the election campaign,
with Prime Minister John Key changing his plans today to
announce the resignation at a special media conference in
Ms Collins said she had done nothing wrong and would fight to
clear her name.
Her resignation was for her ministerial roles, but she will
continue to be the MP for Papakura and stand in this
The email, from October 5, 2011, was sent to "mark",
"Carrick", and one other person whose name has been redacted.
At the time Mr Feeley was under pressure for celebrating the
laying of charges against failed finance company Bridgecorp
with a bottle of champagne recovered from Bridgecorp's former
Ms Collins had referred the matter to the State Services
Commission, which found that Mr Feeley had had used poor
In the email, released by Mr Key, Mr Slater says that Ms
Collins was "gunning for" Mr Feeley.
"I also spoke at length with the Minister responsible today
(Judith Collins). She is gunning for Feeley," the email says.
"Any information that we can provide her on his background is
appreciated. I have outlined for her a coming blog post about
the mass staff turnover and she had added that to the review
of the State Services Commissioner. She is using his review
of these events to go on a trawl looking for anything else.
It is my opinion that Feeley's position is untenable."
Today Mr Slater said he was simply "talking up a big game".
He said he was not lying when he used the term "gunning for".
"Embellished is a good word. It's better than a lie, isn't
it? ... If Judith Collins was gunning for somebody, she'd
have got them.
"I've not proved the downfall for my good mate's career. A
criminal hacker mounting a political conspiracy to subvert
our democracy and undermine our election has done that, and
the media and all of you are complicit."
Opposition parties rounded on the resignation, saying the
email confirmed the kind of dodgy tactics that were alleged
in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics.
Labour leader David Cunliffe called for a commission of
inquiry, which would have the power to require the production
of evidence, to compel witnesses, and to take evidence on
Ms Collins defended herself this afternoon, saying she had
been subjected to a "two year smear campaign" of "false
allegations and innuendos".
She staunchly denied trying to remove Mr Feeley and said she
looked forward to clearing her name.
"I cannot control what other people say about me or when they
leverage off my name."
She no longer wanted to be a "daily distraction" from the
"This is an extremely distressing and disappointing time ...
I will of course cooperate with any inquiry."
Mr Key said a person had passed the email to a Beehive
staffer, who had given it to his chief of staff Wayne
He said it was a "very serious" matter, and an inquiry would
investigate. More announcements on the nature of the inquiry
would be made in coming days.
"The statement could be completely wrong, it could completely
misrepresent the situation. But I can't let that rest
unresolved," Mr Key said.
"It's not tenable for her to carry on as minister until these
issues are resolved."
He said it was no secret that Ms Collins regularly talked to
If National was re-elected, Ms Collins would not be a Cabinet
minister, and he hinted that it would be a hard road back,
even if she was cleared of any wrongdoing.
"She may need to take a little time to reflect as well ...
there's been one or two slips in recent times."
Mr Feeley said he had no comment at the moment when contacted
by the Herald.
Carrick Graham, a public relations specialist who received
the email, also did not wish to comment. He is a central
figure in Dirty Politics, which alleges he ran corporate
campaigns via Whale Oil.
The email also mentions Cathy Odgers, a lawyer who used to
blog as Cactus Kate. She also declined to comment.
Mr Key has spent months staunchly defending Ms Collins, who
has been on her final warning since the Oravida scandal
earlier this year.
Ms Collins had dinner with a Chinese border official and
Oravida bosses while on a taxpayer-funded trip to China. Her
husband David Wong Tung is a director of Oravida, and the
company has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the
Opposition parties have sought to paint the dinner as a
conflict of interest to help benefit her husband's company.
In May this year Ms Collins apologised after she attacked
journalist Katie Bradford, following the ministerial
resignation of her colleague Maurice Williamson.
Last month she was again under pressure after it was revealed
that police in South Auckland had wrongly changed recorded
crime statistics. Ms Collins had heard information about the
statistics, but did not seek further information, nor pass it
on to Police Minister Anne Tolley.
This month, after the release of Dirty Politics, she admitted
releasing the details of public servant Simon Pleasants to Mr
Slater, who then abused Mr Pleasants on Whale Oil, prompting
death threats against Mr Pleasants.
This week Ms Collins had to back-track after she wrongly
claimed that the Privacy Commissioner had cleared her of any
wrongdoing over Mr Pleasants.
Ms Collins was also in the spotlight as New Zealand First
leader Winston Peters claimed that someone from her circle
had approached him and asked if he would be willing to work
with a Collins-led National Party.
She strongly denied the claim.
Several polls this week showed strong public opinion in
favour of Ms Collins being stood down for her behaviour that
was revealed in Dirty Politics.
From Herald editor-in chief Tim Murphy, NZ Herald editor
"Two big stories the NZ Herald broke regarding Adam Feeley in
2011 were independent of Whale Oil, and sourced from other
contacts. It was good journalism, and in the public interest.
"Reporters will have conversations with contacts from all
sides of the political spectrum every day - it's our job to
be fully aware of the source and their motivation, verify the
information, and present it in a fair, accurate and balanced
"Whale Oil was one of a number of people Jared Savage spoke
to as the issue rolled on, to find out what he knew. Some
information would have been shared, but none of it, in our
view, pivotal or relevant to our inquiries."