Thursday, October 21, 2004

The SIS under the bed?

One News reported today that in 1986 the SIS informed Rod Dean, who had just become the State Services Commissioner, that David Lange, then Prime Minister, was having an affair with Magaret Pope. The affair didn't become public knowledge until 1989 when Naomi Lange had an on-the-record breakdown over the phone to an attentive journalist. Apart from possibly sending a shiver down the spine of a person whom I will not name, the story raises a number of interesting questions:

1. It's common knowledge now that in late 1987 Lange turned against Roger Douglas, his finance minister, because of the growing influence of Margaret Pope. That they were having an affair in or before 1986 makes one wonder whether Lange had turned against Douglas then when things were going hummingly and was just plucking up the courage to stab him in the back.

2. Just how did the SIS find out? I doubt they had an informer in Lange's office or a field agent under the bed. If they had picked it up through gossip then I would have expected articles about Margaret's influence before Lange and Douglas fell out as the journalists always find a way to make subtle hints about it in their articles (a case in point - Tom Scott once penned an article called the Schnapps election, which was a reference to Robert Muldoon having been completely and utterly pissed when he declared a snap election. This wasn't made public until after Muldoon had died for fear of defamation proceedings). I can only assume that the SIS received their information from the Police Diplomatic Protection Squad as the two organizations have common interests. For example, if a minister often plays ping-pong with a well-endowned table tennis scholar from China, both organizations have a need to know whether she is a security risk.

Helen Clark has issued a denial that snoping on politician's affairs is just not on the agenda of the SIS. I daresay they keep that sort of thing secret from the politicians so they don't shout it in the House.