PM admits text exchange

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Prime Minister John Key this afternoon confirmed he was in touch with attack blogger Cameron Slater about the Cheryl Gwyn report the night before it was released this week.

Mr Key's admission came after he strongly counter attacked Labour over the report by saying Labour MP Phil Goff breached its embargo by discussing it with reporters on Monday night, ahead of its Tuesday morning release.

Responding to Parliamentary question from Labour's Megan Woods, Mr Key this afternoon said he had not had any communications with Slater between November 23 and 25 regarding either the Chisholm inquiry into whether former Justice Minister Judith Collins undermined former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley, or Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Ms Gwyn's report on whether the SIS improperly released information to Slater in 2011.

However, he returned to the house three hours later to correct his answer. While he said he had not communicated with Slater over the Chisholm report, he had done so with regard to the Gwyn report.

"On Monday the 24th of November I received an unsolicited text message from Mr Slater with a reference to the IGIS report. There was a very short exchange where I briefly acknowledged that text message."

Mr Key's admission came shortly after a screenshot of messages between Slater and an unnamed other person which took place on Monday night emerged where Slater said he knew that Ms Collins would be exonerated in by the Chisholm report. Slater said he knew that because he had been texting Ms Collins and Mr Key that night.

Slater confirmed to OneNews the screenshot was authentic.

Ms Collins told the Herald she had not exchanged texts with Slater on Monday night.

Earlier this afternoon, Ms Gwyn said she would investigate Mr Goff's acknowledgement he disclosed findings from her report on the SIS's release of information to Slater before its release.

Issuing her report yesterday, Ms Gwyn said she was "very disappointed that details of the report were disclosed to some news media yesterday while the report was with affected parties and under embargo".

Affected parties Ms Gwyn repleased the report to early, including Mr Goff, were subject to confidentiality orders made under the Inspector General Act. Breach of confidentiality orders under the Act carries a potential penalty of a $10,000 fine or a year's imprisonment.

This afternoon Ms Gwyn said she was "examining what steps to take over the early disclosure of information from the report".

Ms Gwyn said she was aware of Mr Goff's subsequent statements that he had disclosed some information concerning findings in the report and would be seeking further information from Mr Goff and others.

"The broadcast or publication of that information may also have contravened the IGIS Act and, in any case, these events raise questions for the handling of future reports.

"Any issue of prosecution will, however, be for the Police", she said in a statement.

Mr Goff this morning told Radio NZ that he showed the document to nobody except Labour Leader Andrew Little and Senior Whip Chris Hipkins.

Asked whether he told reporters, he said: "I gave an outline of some relevant points that I said that this cleared my integrity in the matter".

"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", he told Morning Report's Guyon Espiner.

Ms Gwyn said early disclosure of some of the report's findings was `` grossly unfair to others".

"Some of the coverage was not accurate and I'm sure the irony of that in this context is not lost on you."

Prime Minister John Key said Mr Goff had released details of the report early ``to put his spin on it".

"I just find it deeply ironic that in a report that was based around whether information was passed, in itself is now leaked by the person who was asking for it."

By Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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