Teapots and Tearooms – a tale of two tapes
Hark back to 11 November 2011; two men met at a cafe for a chat over a cuppa tea.
Nothing unusual about that, you might think?
Except that the men were John Banks and John Key; leaders of two political parties; campaigning for an upcoming election; and about 40 journalists were present to record the event and report it for their respective media outlets.
The publicity stunt went awry when a recording device was discovered on their table, and Dear Leader was not impressed,
“ John Key remains intractable today about the teapot-tape fiasco, maintaining and repeating his line that he is a victim of a deliberate attempt by the Herald on Sunday to covertly record his conversation with John Banks. .
Continuing on from his defiance yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated on Firstline his stance against “News of the World tactics” and said he went to the police because it was “a matter of principle”.
Firstline host Rachel Smalley, who has seen part of a transcript of the conversation, told Mr Key that hacking into the phone of a family whose child has been murdered, like the News of the World did, is very different to mistakenly leaving a microphone on a table.
“No it’s not,” Mr Key replied, “it’s an illegal attempt to get information and that’s the principle”.
“I have a totally clear conscience about what I’ve done, I think it’s the Herald on Sunday and the cameraman that may not have a clear conscience and in the end, they will have to answer to the police,” he said.
“There are many times where I am in a public place but that doesn’t mean I can be taped…I don’t care about the tape, I haven’t heard the tape but my recollection of the conversation was that it was pretty bland”. ” – Source
John Key was fairly adamant; he was outraged that he had been recorded without his knowledge and point-blank refused to permit the contents of the tape to be made public. On 30 November he made his Royal Displeasure further known when the coercive arm of State authority – the NZ Police – raided the offices of Radio New Zealand, searching for copies of the “teapot tape”.
Further raids on other media followed.
Contrast Key’s wrath with his attitude toward the alleged video-taping of his meeting with the GCSB on 29 January, this year. In response to allegations made by David Shearer, Key responded on 16 October,
“There was no tape, to say the GCSB erased it is a very serious allegation and he should put up or shut up, he should apologise.” – Source
Does such a tape or any other form of recording exist?
We don’t know. The GCSB says it has searched and “found nothing”.
But most pointed is that a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said on 12 October,
“We are checking that there is no recording that GCSB made. ” – Source
On 29 January, Key visits the GCSB for a briefing. He makes some sort of speech in the GCSB cafetaria.
On 11 October, Key is interviewed by TV3 where he stated point-blank that he was unaware of any recording made of his visit to GCSB HQ on 29 January. (See: Secret GCSB recording catches Key out – Labour)
On the same day, GCSB boss, Ian Fletcher, states categorically,
“The department has made exhaustive enquiries of its records and its IT systems, and can find no audio-visual recording of the Prime Minister’s visit to GCSB on 29 February 2012.” – Source
On 12 October, Key’s office announces that they are “checking that there is no recording that GCSB made“.
On 16 October, Key invites the Labour leader to present any recording, “and he should put up or shut up“.
This seems a remarkable turnaround for our Prime Minister?!
He obviously wasn’t aware that he was being recorded – and yet, after checking with the GCSB – is agreeable to Shearer releasing any recording that might be in his possession?!
This seems in stark contrast to Key’s anger at being recorded last year, in Epson – also unknowingly - when he not only refused to release the tape – but called in the police to enforce his diktat.
Key was obviously having none of it.
So why the sudden change of heart at being unknowingly recorded in the GCSB’s cafetaria?
What happened between 12 October and 16 October that allowed Key to comfortably challenge Shearer to “ put up or shut up“?
Fairly bloody obvious, I would think.
The GCSB found the recording before copies could be made (otherwise it would have leaked by now); deleted it; and then advised the Prime Minister “that no recording existed”.
There is simply no other way to explain Key’s inexplicably contradictory responses on being unknowingly recorded on two separate occassions, only 110 days apart.
NZ Herald: Bugged in the Act
NZ Herald: PM blocks release of chat tape
Dominion Post: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview
= fs =