Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:
A fresh political row has broken out over Israeli spy allegations after Labour leader Phil Goff accused SIS head Warren Tucker of misleading the public over what he knew about an investigation into the death of an Israeli citizen in the February 22 Christchurch earthquake.
Goff today disputed a notation by Tucker on a briefing note – released under the Official Information Act – which suggested the opposition leader had seen the briefing of the Israeli “spy” investigation.
Goff disputed the notation and accused Tucker of calling his credibility into question.
“In future, I will only meet with Warren Tucker or representatives of the SIS if there is someone independent in the room to keep a true and accurate record of what is discussed.”
Warren Tucker incidentally was appointed Director of the SIS by Helen Clark in 2006.
The notation he made on the briefing note that Goff has seen the briefing paper would have been made in March, when he met Goff. Back then there would have been no thought that this could become a public issue.
Tucker is a long serving intelligence professional. He would have done hundreds or thousands of briefings, and I doubt would be in the habit of being careless about his notations, or would forget to hand over a paper he had with him.
We now have an Opposition Leader who is so arrogant, and so unable to simply say “I stuffed up” (unlike the Prime Minister) he is now claiming the SIS Director is a liar, and incredibly has said he no longer trusts the SIS and will never meet with them again without witnesses. And this is the man who wants to become their Minister.
This fiasco was entirely avoidable by Goff. When it was first reported that Goff had been briefed, he could have checked quietly with the SIS before shooting his mouth off in public. but once he had publicly stated he had never been briefed and knew nothing of the Israeli issue, he has refused to concede he was wrong, and simply didn’t recall the briefing as he was in the midst of the Hughes scandal.
The public forgive MPs who say they made a mistake. Goff though has dig himself a hole and keeps digging.