Shockingly enough it looks as if Labour’s latest attack against Key actually stacks up:
The company referred to is Whitechapel Ltd. Simple Companies Office searches reveal it was set up a week after Mr Key became Prime Minister and that he and his wife, Bronagh, sold their shares in Highwater Vineyard Ltd, Earl of Auckland Ltd and Dairy Investment Fund Ltd to the company shortly after. Whitechapel still owns the shares.
But Mr Key – since Aldgate was formed – has been on the record as saying he owns part of a vineyard. Yesterday he told reporters he had “no clue what’s in my blind trust”.
He also denied any knowledge of Whitechapel and said he had never received any reports or any other documentation regarding the company.
Asked yesterday if his ownership of a vineyard might cloud his judgment on alcohol reform issues, Mr Key said he “wouldn’t know” he owned shares in the business.
Uh huh. I think this could be the first genuine media crisis Key has faced as PM. Last November I blogged about the generic script for scandal management:
- Deny that you’ve done anything wrong.
- Explain to the media that your scandal is ‘a beltway issue’/’not a story’.
- Play the moral equivalence card (ie try and make the story about your opposition).
- Confuse the issue with technical details.
- Play the victim.
- If it looks grim then publically apologise for creating the perception that you may have done something wrong. Make a token gesture of repentance.
If the story has legs then I think we’ll see all of these. The middle four might not occur in that sequence but I’ll try and tick them all off as they come up. I’ll limit it to statements from Key and his office. DPF alone will probably hit most of these notes sometime in the next few hours.