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Police Minister Stuart Nash ‘playing with semantics’ over top-secret information leak.

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stuartPolice Minister Stuart Nash insists a top-secret list was not leaked, however the list was not actually classified as top-secret.

Police Minister Stuart Nash insists he did not receive advice about a top-secret police watch list being leaked to Stuff and expects the police commissioner would investigate any breach of protocol.

However, it has been revealed the list was not technically labelled ‘top-secret’, leading the Opposition to accuse Nash of playing with semantics rather than getting to the bottom of how the leak happened.

On Sunday, Stuff reported it had obtained part of a secret list that names more than 100 people – including white supremacists, Muslim converts and people left disgruntled by the Christchurch terror attack – that were being actively monitored by police.

During Question Time, Nash declined to discuss the issue in detail when questioned by National MP Chris Bishop.

Afterwards, when he was pushed about his answers by reporters, he kept referring to the ‘top-secret’ aspect in the Opposition’s questions.

It is understood internal police documents, which are not shared with other agencies, are not classified as ‘top-secret’ as intelligence documents might be.

National MP Chris Bishop said Nash was playing with semantics when he should be getting to the bottom of how and why the leak happened.
ROSA WOODS/STUFF
National MP Chris Bishop said Nash was playing with semantics when he should be getting to the bottom of how and why the leak happened.

The documents obtained by Stuff were not labelled ‘top-secret’.

Nash told reporters he had asked police if a ‘top-secret’ list had been leaked and he had been assured by police that a ‘top secret’ list had not been leaked.

It was part of police operations to keep lists of people of interest, he said.

“And if a top-secret list had been leaked, then I would want to know about it. That’s why I asked and that’s why I haven’t received a briefing because a top-secret list hasn’t been leaked.”

He said he had not seen a list of 100 names, but it would be unlikely for a minister to see such an operational list.

He was asked repeatedly if the list of names was not ‘top-secret’.

“What I read and what I was asked is, if there was a top-secret list that has been leaked.”

Afterwards Bishop said Nash was playing with semantics.

“The reality is, there has been a leak of police information to the media and the police minister should be getting to the bottom of how and why this happened, rather then quibbling over the description given to the material.”

During Question Time, Bishop asked Nash if he had confidence in the security policies and systems of the New Zealand Police, if he was concerned the top-secret intelligence watch-list was leaked to media; and, if so, what he intended to do about the “appalling breach of security”.

He also asked if the police would be conducting an inquiry into how part of a top-secret intelligence watch-list made its way into the media and if he would order an inquiry.

Nash replied saying that if there were breaches of operational policies, he had confidence the Commissioner of Police would undertake the necessary actions to ensure the police service was complying with policies.

He said he had seen media reports, which claimed material of a top-secret nature had been leaked, and had not received advice that there was a leak of top-secret information.

Police Minister Stuart Nash ‘playing with semantics’ over top-secret information leak

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