Labour leader Phil Goff denies he was briefed on the SIS investigation into suspicions that Israeli backpackers were spying in Christchurch.
Goff is furious over the Prime Minister's entire handling of the affair, including claims yesterday that the Labour leader was kept in the loop.
Goff insists he was not briefed before, during or after the investigation and says he has texted the head of the SIS to complain about John Key's comments.
Key told TVNZ's Q A programme yesterday: "I personally didn't brief him, but my understanding from the director of SIS, Warren Tucker, is that he was briefed and he was shown the same note and report that I saw."
Goff told The Dominion Post that Key was wrong.
"I have not received that report, I have not seen any report, I was not aware of the allegations," Goff said.
Now if the allegations made by Phil Goff were true, he'd have grounds for complaint. The problem for Phil though is that his allegations AREN'T true. Goff as much as conceded that at his press conference this afternoon, although you have to read quite a way down this Stuff story for confirmation. Here are the words which hang Phil Goff out to dry:
Goff was angry that Key claimed he was briefed on the investigation. After hearing Key's remark, Goff contacted SIS director Warren Tucker for a ''please explain''.
Tucker told him he had ''flicked the issue past him'' during a regular meeting with Goff in March. The pair meet every eight weeks. Goff said he couldn't recall the matter being discussed in the meeting, which occurred a week to a fortnight from the quakes.
Goff said he was shown one of three documents about the investigation this morning, but wouldn't discuss its contents.
''The head of the Security Intelligence Service said he flicked the issue past me and said there wasn't much to it,'' Goff said.
''He 'didn't dwell on it', was his comments.
''If there had been anything of substance said to me I'm sure I would recollect it.''
Oh dear. Phil Goff has impugned a number of reputations over the last few days. He essentially accused the SIS Director of failing in his legally-required duty to brief Goff. He essentially accused John Key of lying when Key claimed that Goff had been briefed by the SIS chief. But the reputation he has impugned the most is his own.
Make no mistake; this is a serious stuff-up by Phil Goff. "A week to a fortnight after the quakes" puts this issue right into the timeframe when Darren Hughes had his little problem. Whilst we can understand that Phil Goff might have been preoccupied at the time, this memory lapse is inexcusable. Last week's Roy Morgan poll might have bought Phil Goff some time, but this stuff-up shines the spotlight right back on Labour's leadership.