Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A self-inflicted threat

Murray McCully's sordid Saudi sheep bribe was predicated on the threat of legal action. According to the Cabinet paper authorising the deal,

Saudi partners would have preferred to enter discussion on the basis of seeking compensation for commercial loss as a result of government decisions (and indicated that they had received legal advice suggesting they pursue a claim for between $20-30 million)

It nows turns out that that "legal advice" came from the New Zealand government:
James Shaw: Did any of his Ministers suggest to Mr Al Khalaf and his associates that they sue the Government of New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, I cannot speak for the other Ministers—I have never asked that question—but I know I certainly did not and I would be surprised if they did.

James Shaw: Why then did Brownrigg Agriculture in a letter dated November 2011 to Murray McCully say that Mr Al Kalaf will be looking “to seek commercial redress, as indeed suggested by your Government as a last resort option for him .”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot answer that question because I was not privy to those conversations...

So we have the government paying money to a Saudi businessman to forstall a lawsuit suggested by the New Zealand government. The question is, did McCully suggest it as a way of opening Cabinet's pockets, or did someone just say "so sue us!" in response to Al Khalaf's outrageous claims?