Collins exonerated, title restored, now put her back in cabinet

As expected Judith Collins has been exonerated by the Chisholm inquiry. The fit up job on her has failed.

Former minister Judith Collins has been cleared of allegations she was involved in a smear campaign against former Serious Fraud Office (SFO) chief executive Adam Feeley.

In a report released today, Justice Lester Chisholm found there were “efforts” to undermine Feeley by two separate groups, but there was no evidence to suggest Collins was part of that.

The first group was made up of some current and some former staff of the Serious Fraud Office. A second group comprised right-wing bloggers Cameron Slater, Cathy Odgers and lobbyist Carrick Graham, with Slater taking the leading role in that group.

“Except for her association with Mr Slater, Ms Collins was not involved in the activities of these groups,” Chisholm’s report finds.

An email dated in 2011 from Slater, obtained and released by Prime Minister John Key, implicated Collins in the smear against her own official, saying she had been “gunning” for Feeley.

Collins resigned a few weeks before the election, insisting she would clear her name, and Key called an inquiry.

Slater countered by lodging a privacy complaint against the prime minister for disclosing a personal email. Key has since apologised to Slater for releasing the email, but said he stood by his actions.

The email indicated Feeley may have been the target of a campaign to undermine him involving two bloggers, Cathy Odgers and Slater, and seemingly endorsed by Collins. At the time, Collins was overseeing the SFO, and the State Services Commission was investigating Feeley’s actions.  

In his report, Chisholm said: “Taken at face value, the email of 5 October 2011 sent by Mr Slater, coupled with similar emails sent by him, is capable of constituting evidence that Ms Collins undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley.

“However, such evidence is incompatible with the remaining evidence before the inquiry and is unreliable.”

Chisholm said the implication Collins was involved was “untenable”.

“On occasions Ms Collins discussed Mr Feeley with Mr Slater, and thereby provided information to Mr Slater. This was not, however, information which Mr Slater was not entitled to receive.

“There is no evidence that Ms Collins inappropriately sought or received information about Mr Feeley from Mr Slater or any other party.

Key said he would be recommending Collins get use of the term “honourable” for life.

I’m glad that Judith has had her title restored, now all John Key needs to do is restore her to cabinet and get on with governing.

The full story will be told when we release a book on this whole episode of Dirty Politics.

Basically the report shows that no one undermined the Serious Fraud Office more than Adam Feeley himself, especially when he perked a bottle of Gossett champagne and that the only people paid to undermine the SFO were NZ Herald reporters, one of whom mislead the enquiry.

You won’t read about that though in the NZ Herald because the report clearly says they were operating with and under my direction…snigger.


– Fairfax


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  • Justsayn

    Cam, can you direct the Herald to run more stories about poker… I like those.

    Good to see Collins cleared, but I don’t like the chances of a ministerial role until the next general reshuffle.

    • Monito

      Probably true that she will not be immediately reinstated to the front benches but not necessarily right; the Honourable Judith Collins has been totally cleared therefore she should be putting her skills and expertise to the best use for the government on whatever portfolio John Key feels is right. SOunds like Paula Bennett could do with some help on State Services.

  • LesleyNZ

    Jolly good stuff! Today has been a very interesting day. Welcome back Hon. Judith Collins.

    • Dave

      What amazes me lesley, Collins is cleared, no apologies from the Horrid repeaters or MSM, nothing, they hound Key over the leak, yet are NOT reporting or even questioning Goff’s lies. They are so compromised.

  • Mick Ie

    A strong, determined and intelligent lady. Even if she remains on the back benches for the interim, she will still out perform the front benchers on the left. Is it any wonder they were gunning for her?

  • Dave_1924

    Judith Collins will sit on the sidelines for a least another year. She acted as a lightening rod for Opposition Questions as a minister and in my view needs to sit it out for awhile. Oravida was poorly handled and with the SIS thing right now re-igniting Oravida allegations as part of ongoing dirty politics meme by the opposition is not what national needs politically

  • Huia

    She’s been cleared in this matter but how much ammunition has she given the opposition in her loose way of operating? She’s damaged goods & a clear threat should a leadership challenge eventuate. JK is right to keep her at arms length, she’s done enough damage

    • kiwibattler

      Reading through the full report you can see that though there was no hard evidence of Collins actively participating in the ‘hit job’ on Feeley (as expected) she was at the very least aware of the campaign and did nothing to stop it or do anything in support of her own senior staff member. Personally it still paints Collins in a bad light and again backs up my feeling that she not be reinstated into cabinet (and I was a strong Collins supporter).

  • Dave

    If I recall correctly from my old memory bank, the PM, Mr John Key said he would wait for the inquiry to finish and clear Judith Collins before recommending her for the title of “Honorable”.

    John, it’s time. Time for you to honor your word, make the recommendation, and whilst you are about it, please promote her back to the front benches, or perhaps a special minister with a decent project, say, union fraud, or something similar.

  • McGrath

    She won’t get back into cabinet as she attracts too much heat (deserving or otherwise).

    • Dave

      Have you ever been duck shooting? Ever used a decoy, it’s a great political trick, let Judith run some controversial policy / changes and watch the opposition and dumb as a sack of hammers MSM repeaters hound her, meanwhile, the government gets on with governing!

  • Damon Mudgway

    To be fair, I think the bus Key keeps throwing people under can’t get traction with the pile underneath lifting the bus off its wheels.

    And, yes, I know it’s just politics. Initially I thought JK was different…but (sigh), he’s just another politician after all.

  • jude

    I am pleased that Judith Collins had her title restored. It is fair and deserved.
    Her hard work will be missed on the front bench.I would not be surprised to see a position for her there in the coming year.

  • bjmarsh

    Great news which was no less than I expected. Now that the soon to be Hon. Judith Collins has had her status confirmed by the Prime Minister, and recognising for practical purposes, that all of the Cabinet slots have been filled for the time being, we need, as a country, to utilise her widely recognised abilities to see things as they are, and as they should be. I really hope that she is appointed as the Head of an Inquiry with the status of Royal Commission to investigate the extent of MSM involvement in the Dirty Politics saga, the culpability of Hager’s criminality according to the Law, and the measures needed to revent any future repitition of the criminal conspiracy to undermine the spirit and letter of the Electoral Law. Such an Inquiry should be welcomed as the only solution to clean the Slate and give us a new beginning y appropriate amendments to the Electoral Law. It would also act as a means to compel the Media to clean house and act within its role as the 4th Estate. No journalist should be allowed to participate in politics unless their political leanings are acknowledge in bold print which should include the words “Opinion Only – may be subject to political influence”

    • Justsayn

      The opposition have a spokesperson for “Interfaith Dialogue” – if National need to match that then there is role for Collins. I can just picture her with a sniper’s rifle entering into “dialogue” with a few ISIS fools from 700m.

  • Good to hear, but if i was JK i would stuill be reticent about putting her in too prominent a role. Environment perhaps or Regional Development. Something to keep her out of the limelight for another 6 months to a year. Give the numpties time to forget about her

  • Looking forward to the book!
    The report makes for interesting reading and it is a vindication for WO (although to be fair, Cam, you did over-oil the machine at times!) and most of all a vindication of Mrs Collins. I think the opposition such as they are, are going to be in for a hard ride once she gets stuck into them. Back bench notwithstanding, she’ll be a force in any debate.
    Heard Hager being a sanctimonious twerp on radio live this morning … wonder how he will respond now.
    Go Cam, book, Freed, can’t wait!

  • la la land

    I am looking forward to JC being reinstated to the front bench. I guess we will have to wait for someone else to make a mistake so they can have a reshuffle…

  • axeman

    Judith is a very capable MP but the collateral damage from this and her China trip was just to much for the National party to bear at election time.
    Exonerated now Key has done the right thing by recommending she regains the title Honourable, but wont put her back in Cabinet just yet. I am sure she will get a special project to work on though

  • flutterby

    NZers are encouraged to look after their retirement years and Judith was doing just that when she arranged a meeting with Oravida in China – after all you don’t go to China everyday. She was also helping NZ trade with China so in my book (and perception) good on her, I bet MP’s have done exactly the same for many years when on official visits but it flies under the radar.

  • abbaby

    When I was going through the figures in preparation for a NZ yogurt ice cream store in Seoul it never crossed my mind that an MP would/could fly over and vouch for my business with very high Seoul officials. That would have opened all the doors I needed.

    • flutterby

      Good planning, you could/would have flown over and sorted out your own family business. I don’t begrudge any MP’s having some down time to sort out their own private affairs while overseas, they can’t work 24 hours a day, or do they have to make a return trip in their holidays? Would seem a waste of time and energy. Surely we want to encourage overseas markets?

      • abbaby

        What about using your position as a head of state to enable your family business access that other businesses do not get?