New Zealand Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has resigned from the role after failing to adequately respond to a leak inquiry related to the nation’s spy agency, Prime Minister John Key said.
Dunne, who is the sole parliamentary member from the United Future Party, will remain in parliament and vote with the government on motions of confidence and other issues, Key told reporters in Wellington today. Dunne has been a parliamentarian since 1984.
Key today released the findings of an inquiry into how an external review of the Government Communications & Security Bureau’s spying activities had been leaked to the media. The review was sparked by revelations that the GCSB had spied on Kim Dotcom, founder of the cloud-storage service Megaupload.com that the U.S. shut down on copyright infringement charges.
Dunne was identified as having frequent contact with the reporter who obtained the report, including 86 e-mail exchanges, in the two weeks prior to the leak, according to Key. Dunne declined to fully disclose the content of his e-mails, Key said.
“He’s told me categorically he didn’t leak the report,” Key said at a news conference. “I want to believe him but the problem is unfortunately the inquiry doesn’t rule him out and I can’t dismiss the possibility that he has.”
Dunne refused to comply with Key’s directive that all ministers assist the inquiry, and chose the course of resignation, Key said. Some of his communications with the reporter were inappropriate in that they discussed the GCSB, he said.
Key said the National Party-led government doesn’t need Dunne’s vote to continue to govern.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brockett at email@example.com