When evidence emerged yesterday that John Key had been briefed on Cameron Slater's expedited OIA to the SIS, he was quick to deny it. Apparently when the SIS director and the Ombudsman referred explicitly to "discussions with the Prime Minister", they meant discussions with unnamed people in his office, who never told him. Then he claimed to have been on holiday. All of which sounds plausible (especially when the Ombudsman backs him), except for one thing: its not what he said at the time:
Mr Key referred to the briefing from Dr Tucker while being questioned about the matter during his post Cabinet press conference on August 8, 2011, in the days following the document's release.
Responding to persistent questioning from then Scoop editor Alastair Thompson and Herald political editor Audrey Young, Mr Key said: "What happened is Warren Tucker didn't come to me, he went to his legal adviser and his legal advisers told him this is the process they have to follow and when he was going through that process it was at that point he told me he'd release it because he has to tell me that under the no-surprises doctrine."
So, who are we to believe? Key-now, with fading memories and every reason to lie, or Key-then, with an immediate grasp of events and none? I think that's a no-brainer. Key is lying to us to minimise his role in National's dirty politics. And the fact that he feels the need to lie tells us something important: his sticky fingers are all over it.