Prime Minister John Key said today that he’s “uninterested” in a series of allegations made against Justice Minister Judith Collins in a new book by investigative journalist Nicky Hager.
The book, Dirty Politics, was released last week to intense media scrutiny, with most of that being directed at Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, and the alleged misdeeds of the Prime Minister’s senior advisor, Jason Ede.
But in a smaller, less scrutinized section of the book, Hager makes another claim that, until today, had gone largely overlooked: he alleges that Collins, with the aid of Slater, stalked and murdered a Wellington man who threatened her on Twitter, before tossing his body into the harbour, fishing it up two hours later, and hauling it to the Beehive in front of several eyewitnesses.
Hager produces a record of a text conversation between Collins and Slater, in which Collins chastises him for tossing the body in the harbour, fearing that it will be recovered.
Slater replies, “lol.”
Pundits believe that this image may prove damaging to the Government.
But Key today dismissed the allegations, saying that he hasn’t read the book, and won’t be doing so until after the election.
“Look, I’m frankly not that concerned,” Key told media today. “I think most New Zealanders would agree that reading can occasionally be difficult, and it’s hard to find time between watching TV and picking up the pizza from school.”
Key added that he was still working his way through the previous two Hager books, and didn’t want to be spoiled.
“Hager is a well-known left-wing journalist, and he’s going to take what little he has, and make some assumptions here or exaggerate something there. I think at the end of the day most New Zealanders will say to themselves, look, do I care about one Justice Minister loosely associating with someone who’s a little bit of a loose cannon, and maybe murdering a regular citizen for sport, or do I care about the economy, my kid’s future, and whether David Cunliffe is sorry for being a man?”
Observers expect that Key won’t suffer any personal damage as a result of the allegations, as he appears to have no direct involvement; although Hager does detail, in one chapter, how the body of the man was hidden, secretly, inside the Prime Minister’s office for days on end, before mysteriously disappearing.
Key denies knowing the body was stuffed in his desk’s front drawer, with most of it hanging out.
“Well, first of all, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t really comment on what’s in there, but I think if there’s this, sort of, unreasonable expectation, that I know what’s going on in every level of government at all times, then that’s just wrong, frankly,” he said. “The first I’m hearing of this is now.”
Key later admitted to TV3’s Patrick Gower that he was aware of a body on his desk, but said it was “highly unlikely” that it’s the same one.
“I’m fairly sure I know where that one came from,” he said.
While the opposition has hoped to capitalize on the ongoing revelations in Dirty Politics to finally put a dent in National’s support, a poll released by One News this evening suggests that, were the allegations against Collins true, only 13% of voters say they’d be influenced by it, and of those, 72% say they’d be “more likely” to vote for the Government.