John Key between a rock and a hard place?

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed media reports that there is a police investigation into National MP Mike Sabin as rumours.

…as rumours?

There have been reports in some news media since December last year that police were investigating allegations against Mr Sabin, who is the chair of the law and order select committee.

Mr Key told Morning Report Mr Sabin remained a fully functioning member of caucus.

The prime minister said he had taken legal advice about what he describes as rumours.

“I’m obviously aware of people wanting to make allegations but I’m just not in a position for a variety of different reasons, legal and otherwise, to want to make comments about that,” said Mr Key

“I’ve got very good advice that I shouldn’t be making comments about either him or anybody else.”

John Key said he would not buy into a rumour mill and he was happy for Mr Sabin to continue in his role with the law and order select committee.

He said if he was required to comment on the case, he would.

Of course, it’s not that easy.  And what I warned him about has come to pass:  

Labour Party leader Andrew Little says “the public are entitled to know”.

He said: “If there is an investigation, the prime minister will know about it. If there is, he should tell the public. If there isn’t, he should tell the public.”

The Green Party’s also weighed in, accusing Mr Key of treating this case differently to previous inquiries into MPs.

Former Minister Richard Worth resigned from his portfolios in 2009 while under police investigation for matters of a sexual nature.

At the time, Mr Key said that, had Dr Worth not resigned, he “would have sacked him”.

Police eventually decided against laying any charges.

Green Party MP Jan Logie says Mr Key’s withholding information for political interest.

“That’s the only assumption we can make. He’s had legal advice, he’s choosing to keep New Zealanders in the dark about whether there’s an investigation happening,” she said.

Asked about the matter again today, the prime minister would only say: “As I said to you yesterday, if I was at a point where I wished to make a comment about any of my MPs I’d do that, but I’m not in that position today.”

Police are also refusing to officially confirm any investigation.

Here’s the thing.  Key wouldn’t need to get legal advice if there was nothing to it.   This is all going to hinge on the victim/s continuing with silence.   Also, if he was required to comment on the case, he would.   So there is a case.

The problem for Key is when this blows up, his advice wasn’t just to say nothing, it has also been to do nothing, and that’s where it will come undone.  There is no way in hell, having kept quiet about it, Key won’t be accused of trying to cover up a very serious and disgusting alleged assault.

But then the National Party already harbours a senior member under the benefit of name suppression for similar although less disgusting transgressions.


Being part of a blended family and being ex-Police, the whole thing is a bloody powder keg.  The whole old boys network is trying to keep the lid on.

And John Key’s advice is to say nothing, and do nothing.

50/50 this is going to end up a major scandal…   …for something that doesn’t exist, does not have a police investigation, Key can’t/won’t talk about or confirm, but needed legal advice for to be told to pucker up and hope for the best.


– RNZ, One News


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  • sandalwood789

    What IS it with Key that he *never* seems to do the common-sense thing in situations like this? He never “nips it in the bud”. He just leaves it to fester.
    He is unable to learn that *nothing* good ever came from doing that.
    He just thinks that “oh, I’m PM, my judgment is infallible.”

    Cam (and for that matter myself) has a thousand times the political nous that Key does.

    • Sharky75

      Is it something to do with the fact this guy is an elected electorate MP? A lot easier to push round a list MP?

    • Sharky75

      Also you would really have to question Key’s judgement if Sabin is the Law & Order committee chair with these allegations hanging around his neck – to me thats seems a huge error in judgement on the basis perception is everything in politics.

      • kehua

        Imagine if the `purported victim` was a a granny basher or kiddy fiddler and also spat or shat on a person doing their legitimate job, I am sure 99% of decent thinking people would have no problems with same criminal accidently falling onto the closed fist or protruding boot of the official concerned. I know that I wouldn`t.

  • Murray Smith

    Everyone should heed the daily Proverb for today.

    “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”

    Kind of ironic, I think.

  • kiwiinamerica

    I think comparisons with Richard North aren’t as valid because he had a relatively long track record of dodgy stuff that would’ve all come out had Key not acted. Key has proven that he can act swiftly if he wants to. He dithered on Judith Collins fearing a backbench and likely Cameron backlash and, in the midst of fighting the Dirty Politics media obsession daily, meant his eyes were off the Collins ball for a few weeks. Key will have dug around and found likely conflicting stories on the specific allegation and has been advised that there’s not enough for the cops to charge and to hunker down and ride this out. The moment that changes i.e. evidence that could lead to at least a charge (let alone a conviction) then Key will asking Sabin to resign for “family reasons”. It is likely that someone on the complainant side is sending Cam tips and Key is likely to have decided in his inner advisor circle that there are indeed two sides to the story. If the complainant breaks media silence then it’s game over for Sabin and Key WILL have to manage a media/Opposition storm over what did he know and when. Also if there is no police charges, the likelihood of the complainant going public is high which will be even messier because only one side of the story will be gnawed on by the media. I do not think Key is lacking political nous – he has weathered plenty of storms that were teacup beltway affairs (Orevida, GCSB, Dirty Politics) when the Matthew Hootens of this world were predicting yet again electoral doom for Key. I think he deserves more credit (along with Farrar’s Curia polling company) for being able to determine a real scandal from a faux beltway scandal.

    • TayheiNotts

      Richard North. A delightful Freudian slip from somebody in America

      • kiwiinamerica

        Haha yes – typo now fixed. Cheers

  • Sailor Sam

    There is either a police investigation or there is not. It is as simple as that.
    Seems to me that if there is an investigation the police are treading very carefully and slowly because he was one of their own and it is embarrasing for them.
    Else these are only rumours after all.
    Somebody needs to come clean, preferably Mike Sabin himself.
    If there is an investigation going on, why is it taking so long?
    Is there something that the police themselves are hiding from and that there is procastrination because it involves other cops?
    Why is the investigation being carried out from Auckland, not Whangarei?
    Most assault cases involving ordinary people seem to have much shorter investigations.
    Somebody needs to front, if not Mike Sabin, then John Key.

    • Backdoor

      Surely there needs to be some evidence that an offence has been committed first. A third party could have laid a complaint with the Police that is factitious. The Police quite correctly are evaluating the complaint. Public figures can be the target of factitious complaints and the complaints need to be evaluated. The MSM need to stop trying to generate stories to sell their products.

  • MaryLou

    I’ve always felt uncomfortable about how politicians and accusations are handled, from Dover Samuels right through to Judith Collins to this one. I have absolutely no idea of the veracity of the allegations – and I don’t see how anyone can simply from media reports. Whilst I understand the need to maintain a clean public profile n the public eye, unless the allegations in any way impact on their impartiality or ability to do the job they are employed to do, shouldn’t they get the benefit of the doubt until the Police are in a position to say publicly that they are looking to bring charges? Or if of a different nature of allegation ie Judith Collins – the appropriate Parliamentary oversight committee?

    I agree this all sounds pretty bad, but we have lost a few good parliamentarians over allegations, that have ended up being cleared. So they have suffered either temporary or permanent setbacks for no good cause.

    And yes I am biased – I would have liked to see JC have a crack at PM one day… not sure if that is possible now.

  • Countiesfan

    Usually if a high media interest case takes this long the evidence has been gathered and the case has been handed to the crown lawyers to decide if there is a realistic prospect of conviction which would justify the laying of a charge or charges. The roast busters case was apparently with the lawyers for several months while everyone moaned about how hopeless the police were. From memory the Phillip Field case also spent months with the lawyers. I think there’s a law requiring solicitor general authority to charge a sitting MP. Delays don’t mean police are trying to protect their own. If Cam is right about it being a “disgusting assault”our police would throw him under the bus if they could.

  • axeman

    Whatever happened to innocent till PROVEN guilty?? Rumors, leaks, no charges, police not confirming an investigation, witch hunt, who knows.
    Lets wait till the cards are dealt and then assess the hand before having to place a bid. The question as usual in a game of 500 is who holds the Joker

    • JustanObserver

      Agree axeman, the MSM ‘Makos’ (as they see themselves) will keep circling tighter and tighter around a scent of blood, but perhaps all it will end up to be is a whole lot of Burly in the water.

  • Nirvana10

    Not sure that I am all that enamoured of the sentence ‘And what I warned him about has come to pass’. This is just the kind of statement that the lefties will seize upon. I know that this refers to comments on the WO site BUT it could readily be deliberately misconstrued as some sort of personal and private communication.

    • Richard

      Since when was it wrong to get professional advice from a law abiding political consultant?

      • Nirvana10

        Well said Richard! I like it.

  • Adam Michaels

    It’s nearly February, time for another trial by MSM!

  • Backdoor

    I thought Whaleoil would be cognisant of the risks when people try joining the dots with out having full information. They must be aware of the errors in Hagar’s account.

    Alternatively, if they are privy to information then why not share it. The media seem more interested in creating interest than providing information.

  • Captain Darling

    I’m not sure too many people will be losing sleep over this. I suspect most NZers have never heard of Sabin.

  • Chris W

    There are so many accusations around these days – unless the police at least lay a charge, as an ordinary Kiwi I really don’t care.