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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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