The Dim-Post

March 28, 2012

The epistemology of political denials

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 4:04 pm

Via Stuff, re the ongoing ACC privacy debacle:

Collins has insisted she is “100 per cent certain” neither she nor anyone in her office was responsible for the leak of an email about Pullar.

I’m always intrigued when politicians issue these blanket denials, because they’re usually so much cagier (‘It would be inappropriate to comment pending the outcome of the inquiry . . .’). I recall a similar blanket denial back in 2008 when someone taped Bill English at a National Party fund-raiser. Someone in Labour – Mike Williams? – denied that anyone in the Labour Party was associated with the incident. Which made me think that Williams knew exactly who had taped English, because how else could he make a definitive statement precluding anyone associated with the Labour Party?

Collins’ office is a bit smaller, but she can’t know for sure whether one of her staffers leaked Pullars’ name and then lied to her about it, unless she knows exactly who did leak it. If you follow me.


  1. You’re right, Collins does know how the information got out. She’s just managed to avoid telling us, so far.

    The secret taper was Kees Keizer, a Green party supporter.

    Comment by Wino — March 28, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  2. and if she floats she’s a witch?

    Anything less than a complete denial would have been parsed for double meanings too. So she is damned either way. At least this way she can be held accountable if it turns out to not be true. Lianne Dalziel got done when found to have lied about a leak from her office.

    Comment by insider — March 28, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  3. “At least this way she can be held accountable if it turns out to not be true.”

    Only if it could be proved that she knew about it. Otherwise it could still be written off as a staffer who leaked the document and then lied to her when confronted. (Never mind the nature of that confrontation.)

    Comment by MikeM — March 28, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  4. She could still go as did Dalziel, where she denied leaking/lying but “Helen Clark said that, nevertheless, Ms Dalziel had come to the conclusion that she would face ongoing speculation which can only be damaging to the Government. On that basis, Lianne Dalziel had offered her resignation.”

    Comment by insider — March 28, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  5. @Insider: irinially Im pretty sure (not 100%) that it was Collins who took her down too

    Comment by max — March 28, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  6. irinially=ironically

    Comment by max — March 28, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  7. @2 we can skip the float test, we know the answer already. Broomsticks.

    Comment by Andrew R — March 28, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  8. Nah. Collins is the kind of leader who would be able to sit every one of her staff down across a desk, ask them point-blank, and eyeball them hard enough to get a sense of whether they were bullshitting. I reckon she’s right.

    I now await immediate correction by the Universe.


    Comment by Lew (@LewStoddart) — March 28, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

  9. . . . eyeball them hard enough . . .

    The urge to poke ’em both out with one finger would be too much for me.

    Comment by Joe W — March 28, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  10. Isn’t it standard procedure to leak through staff from other offices?

    Comment by gazzaj — March 28, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  11. @10: LOL

    Comment by James C. — March 28, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

  12. Collins is now threatening to sue for defamation…

    Comment by Plum — March 29, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  13. Now she’s launching defamation proceedings against MPs and the a journalist. Attacking the media is never a great strategy…

    Comment by George D — March 29, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  14. Which of the following is true?

    a) Collins told Key she wanted to sue, he said “Do it.”

    b) Collins told Key she wanted to sue, he said “Don’t”, she ignored him.

    c) Collins didn’t tell Key.

    In short, does Key’s “leadership” look stupid, weak or non-existent?

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — March 29, 2012 @ 9:36 am

  15. Yes. The certainty is either simple risk-taking….or based on certain knowledge of who did leak it.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — March 29, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  16. Privacy Commisioner Marie Shroff has been appointed to investigate the leak and may forensically search computers for an email trail but may find that it could be a futile exercise because a number of parties involved have all denied being the source of the leak.
    Meanwhile Judith Collins has initiated action against two Labour M.P.’s and RNZ in her defence from accusations that she was party to the leak, but in consideration it is unlikely that the leak evolved from Government benches and Collins will be totally vindicated and exonerated as a result.
    The leak most likely originated from the opposition benches because they have the most to gain from this spectacle.

    Comment by Kevin — March 29, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  17. Kev, how did the opposition get the material to leak it unless someone in ACC or the government (or Pullar) leaked it to them first?

    Comment by MeToo — March 29, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  18. @ MeToo

    Trevor Mallard was doing his level best on RNZ this morning to intimate that;

    a) he has a vast and shadowy intelligence network within the National Party apparatus, and
    b) that even though for some reason he can’t use this formidable 5th column to win an election, he can categorically pin this all on…..(snore)….Simon Lusk.

    Inveterate shit-stirrer or Machiavellian svengali?

    I know which I’d pick.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 29, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  19. @ 14 You missed one possibility sammy;

    4) Key told Collins that if she is telling him the truth about it not being out of her office, she should sue.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 29, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  20. She was using the privacy commissioner’s inquiry to avoid answering questions in parliament today – is there a possibility that she’d use the defamation lawsuit, provided it gets to that stage, to avoid answering any questions? “The matter is before the courts, etc.”

    Comment by Vagabundo — March 29, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  21. Is there a minister or senior National Party figure not implicated in this?

    “TONIGHT: A CLOSE UP EXCLUSIVE. The letter leaked to Close Up that names John Key supporting a multi-million dollar insurance claim by Bronwyn Pullar. How much did he and other National Party politicians really know?”

    Comment by George D — March 29, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  22. Paddy Gower asked the PMs office about it George, they deny all knowledge, know nothing about anything like that.
    So who knows?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 29, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  23. Collins is brighter than Mallard. I think Danyl’s right, Collins knows and it wasn’t her. I’m really not sure why Labour has gone down this road. It could backfire quite spectacularly.

    They’d scored some points but now risk losing that by doubling down and hoping they’ll get her to resign. I think the odds of that are slim.

    Comment by NeilM — March 29, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

  24. and with Curran still going on about the Chinese threat I can’t see any evidence of the new look Labour Shearer promised. It’s looking a lot like how they behaved last term.

    Comment by NeilM — March 29, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  25. In all honesty I have to suspect that the leak has probably been engineered by the PR Mistress herself Michelle Boag. She has a track record of dirty tricks including trying to secretly film the Winebox Inquiry.

    Comment by MadMac — March 29, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: