Press secretary's partner revealed to be former employee of spy agency in row over alleged leaks
The partner of the chief press secretary to Labour leader David Shearer has been drawn into the row over alleged leaks after being exposed as a former GCSB spy agency employee.
XX XXXXXX XXXXXX is an academic who lives with former New Zealand Herald and TVNZ journalist Fran Mold. She now works as an adviser to Mr Shearer.
Yesterday NewstalkZB reported XX XXXXXX was the source for Mr Shearer's claims the Prime Minister had joked with GCSB staff about Kim Dotcom in the agency's cafeteria.
Ms Mold and XX XXXXXX did not respond to messages.
XX XXXXXX grew up in Christchurch, studied International Relations at Victoria University in 2002 then worked in the public service in Wellington. He earned his doctorate at the Australian National University writing a book on small arms from pistols to automatic rifles and rocket launchers. The book studied the way nations attempted to control the arms trade and how arms dealers avoided those trying to shut them down.
XX XXXXXX' Facebook page in August shows the Labour Party listed among his "interest and activities". He also commented on the Labour Party page about a poster highlighting the wage gap between rich and poor. "Awesome graphic," he wrote.
The Weekend Herald has been told XX XXXXXX was not at the GCSB on the critical dates in the scandal. The Weekend Herald understands he was seconded to another government agency at the time of the Dotcom spying and during Mr Key's visit.
The GCSB investigation has yet to establish whether a leak occurred. GCSB director Ian Fletcher said last night he was looking beyond his own staff to conduct the inquiry.
"To ensure we can carry on with our business as usual as much as possible we will be bringing in appropriate external expertise to help conduct the inquiry."
If it establishes a leak, the GCSB's legislation carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.
Kudos to the Herald for having the integrity to provide some balance. It's obvious that there is a political agenda at play here, and the acknowledgment that XX XXXXXX has an "interest" in the Labour Party certainly casts the leaks to David Shearer's office in a highly political light.
Whilst we are handing a bouquet to the Herald, it's a brickbat to Patrick Gower and 3News. We recorded 3News last night, and as expected, the GCSB saga led the bulletin. However Patrick Gower's story (which can be viewed here) was hopelessly one-sided. Gower seems intent on bringing down the Prime Minister. Last night's story began with Mike McRoberts;' pronouncement that "Last night 3News broke the story that Labour had a source inside the GCSB...", and from there on, only one side was heard.
It was partisan journalism at its worst, and there was narry a mention of the ethics of a public servant breaking the law and breaching the confidentiality provisions of their conditions of employment by leaking information to the Leader of the Opposition via his press secretary, despite that link having been established by a rival journalist many hours previously.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, Gower's piece carried video footage of staff entering the GCSB offices, with no attempt made by 3News to conceal the identities of the staff members. We reckon that's bad form, especially if the staff members were not given the opportunity to object to their images being splashed all over nationwide television.
In the meantime, John Key has challenged David Shearer to put up or shut up, and David Shearer has embarrassingly had to concede that there is no video or audio recording of the PM. Whoever convinced him that there was, and whoever convinced him to stake his reputation on his source has sold Shearer down the river, quite possibly on John Banks' infamous cabbage boat!
The public service has long prided itself on being politically neutral, and the overwhelming majority of state servants live up to that expectation. On this occasion however, one or more public servants has/have decided to use information gathered from within their workplace for political purposes. David Shearer and Francesca Mold are probably wishing that they hadn't! We would not be at all surprised had conversation in the Mold/XXXXX residence been somewhat stilted last night, as both looked at the employment adverts online.