We don't make that statement lightly. Phil Goff emphatically denies having been briefed on the Mossad/Backpacker case by SIS head Dr Warren Tucker. Dr Tucker is just as emphatic in confirming that briefings took place, and the documents released to Slater by the SIS, whilst heavily censored, favour Dr Tucker's version.
The documents released to Cameron Slater suggest that:
- The issue of the Israelis was discussed "at length" with Phil Goff on 14 March, and that Goff asked questions
- the briefing on 14 March was on an agenda for a further briefing on 6 April, and
- Dr Tucker has noted in writing that the issue was discussed with Mr Goff, who read briefing documents
Bear in mind that Phil Goff was under exceptional stress at this time. Early in March he was advised of the alleged incident at Annette King's residence involving Darren Hughes. The Hughes story broke in the media on Wednesday 23 March, after journalists had been sniffing around for a few days. Hughes resigned on Friday 25 March, and Goff was subject to widespread criticism of his handling of the matter. On Tuesday 29 March there was that extraordinary photograph of Labour's front bench united behind Phil Goff after they held an emergency meeting in Dunedin. It's fair to say that Phil Goff had a lot going on at this time.
Had Phil Goff stepped up today and admitted that Dr Tucker's version of events was right, and that he hadn't been able to recall the briefing he would have got a ragging, but the matter would have quickly blown over. But he didn't; this is a die-in-a-ditch issue for Labour's leader. Unfortunately for him, it was he who tried to make political capital out of these events two weeks ago, whilst John Key was in the USA. It hasn't worked out in the way he hoped.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out now. But let's not forget that it was Cameron Slater, a mere blogger who put two and two together, realised that Goff's story didn't add up, and fired off an OIA request to the SIS, to which they responded. If ever a local example was needed of how a blogger can do the work of an investigative journalist, Slater has provided it, and he deserves the plaudits.
This is most certainly Cameron Slater's Greatest Hit.