Inquiry into SIS disclosures the right decision

Labour MP Phil Goff says the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has done the right thing by launching an inquiry into the disclosure of SIS documents about a meeting between himself and the agency’s former director-general.

“This inquiry is necessary for the public to be confident the SIS was not manipulated by the Government to serve its own political purposes.

“Given the seriousness of the allegations in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, it should be thorough, wide-ranging and completed urgently.

“Questions which must be answered include: whether Cameron Slater was tipped off by National to specifically request a document; why the director general saw fit to release the document immediately; and why preference was given to Cameron Slater’s request ahead of similar requests from the news media.

“Briefings to me as the then Leader of the Opposition were required to be held in confidence. The rules were that no notes were to be taken, no documents held and no one else to be present at the meeting. The long-standing convention was that I make no public comment on what was disclosed.

“John Key himself dismisses requests for comment on matters relating to the SIS with the response that he never comments on security intelligence.

“Therefore questions must also be asked about why John Key brought this case into the public arena, what communication he had directly or indirectly through Jason Ede or other staff with the Whale Oil blogger and what expectations he placed on the director general.

“Journalists and others who regularly make requests under the Official Information Act know how rare it is to receive any documents requested earlier than the statutory 20 working days allowed. What was exceptional about this case?

“These are the questions the Inspector-General will need to find answers to,” Phil Goff says.