Sarah Harvey at Stuff reports:
Former Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive, diplomat and government adviser Charles Finny has been named by WikiLeaks as the United States' top Kiwi contact.
But Mr Finny denied being a spy and said the “key contact” mentions were flattering. He is quoted often in the US diplomatic cables controversially made public by website WikiLeaks, and in a cable from May 19, 2006, was singled out as a “close [US] embassy contact”.
“i am regularly talking to embassies, high commissions and journalists in New Zealand and around the world, in areas where I have expertise,” Mr Finny said. …
Mr Finny said he often saw important embassy contacts at functions in Wellington.
“You see them at cocktail parties, you have lunches occasionally and sometimes they formally call on you … once every four or five months. But you would probably see them once a week at cocktail parties.
If talking to embassy staff makes you a spy, then I'm a spy for the US, UK, and Australian Governments, plus the European Union.
Part of the job of embassy staff is to gain better understanding of NZ domestic and foreign policy. They do that by chatting to a variety of people. As Charles' says, mainly at functions, but sometimes also over a meal.