In recent days an incorrect story has been repeated in the news about how Judith Collins had to resign after the book Dirty Politics was published but was later exonerated and returned to Cabinet. In the interests of accuracy, it is worth correcting this misunderstanding.
After Dirty Politics was published in 2014, National was concerned about falling support and decided to end this by removing Judith Collins — one of the Dirty Politics personalities — from her ministerial post. But National did not want to give credibility to the book by saying that it was the reason for her demotion. Instead the Prime Minister’s staff managed to obtain a new email, which had not been cited in the book Dirty Politics, involving Collins, dirty politics characters Cameron Slater, Cathy Odgers and Carrick Graham, and a campaign to smear the Serious Fraud Office head. It was on the basis of this separate email that Collins had to step down. After the election there was an inquiry into Collins’ actions in relation to that single email. She was indeed cleared of involvement in the smear and went back into Cabinet.
Here is a reference to the new email and exoneration. Judith Collins was soon saying that she had been cleared of all allegations in the book Dirty Politics. But neither the new email nor anything about a smear campaign against the SFO head appear in the Dirty Politics book.
Anyone can check the chapter about Collins in Dirty Politics. It shows a pettiness and meanness, as she sent snippets of gossip and dirt to Cameron Slater and helped him to attack people on his blog — including details of a public servant who was then strongly attacked on Slater’s blog, including receiving death threats. The chapter recounts where she recommended to Slater about some National Party internal politics: “Personally I would be out for total destruction… But then I’ve learned to give is better than to receive.” She called it the “double” rule: “always reward with Double”; and said “If you can’t be loved, then best to be feared.”
These are the sorts of things that were revealed about Collins in Dirty Politics. On none of them was she investigated and exonerated. It would be incorrect to allow this misunderstanding to continue.
Nicky Hager is one of NZs most important investigative journalists.