The Prime Minister and his allies have gone on the offensive over Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics, detailing alleged National Party and Government smear campaigns.
The book is based on thousands of leaked emails between National Party figures and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.
Mr Hager says the email communications show a trail of attacks against Government opponents, and he claims some were orchestrated from the Prime Minister's office.
But the Prime Minister insisted today that National is doing everything above board and nothing different to what any other political party would do. The book does not directly implicate John Key in dirty tactics and instead points the finger at a member of his staff - so-called "Blackops Man" Jason Ede.
Mr Hager claims Mr Ede, who now works for the National Party, fed information to Mr Slater to attack National's opponents.
"He's the one who is most answerable, and for whom John Key is most answerable. He was the one on the spot, organising, plotting, scheming and working with the attackers," Mr Hager says.
And the author claims Mr Ede and Mr Slater accessed the Labour Party's database of donor information.
Cameron Slater strongly rejects Mr Hager's claims, saying: "Nicky Hager is drawing pictures, drawing dots and thinks he has picture of conspiracy but has actually got a bunch of squiggly lines."
Mr Hager also claims he has emails showing Justice Minister Judith Collins communicated regularly with Mr Slater. In one such exchange Mr Hager alleges the pair were communicating about sensitive information concerning ACC at the height of the Bronwyn Pullar privacy breach case.
Ms Collins strongly denies leaking any information on the case and says it's ironic that Dirty Politics is "based on stolen emails, what ifs and fanciful speculation".
ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann says the Government has been blindsided to an extent by the book and he believes National will be rattled by it.
Dann says it's too early to say whether the book is an election game changer but it contains "awkward material".
"The gloves are well and truly off with this campaign," Dann says.