John Key is under strong attack as the Dirty Politics scandal comes back to bite him in a big way.
An independent report has confirmed one of the Prime Minister's staff disclosed Security Intelligence Service information to blogger Cameron Slater for political purposes.
Labour says Mr Key must have known they were doing it, and if he can't provide an explanation he should resign. While former Labour leader Phil Goff got an apology from the SIS spy boss Rebecca Kitteridge today, he really wants John Key to say sorry.
"And if he doesn't do those things and he doesn't come clean with New Zealanders, then he has no place as Prime Minister of this country," Mr Goff said.
Mr Goff's new leader, Andrew Little, puts it like this: "The Prime Minister presided over the dirtiest, filthiest, grubbiest, vilest operation we have seen in New Zealand politics today."
When ONE News told Mr Key that Mr Goff was calling for him to provide an explanation and apologise, or resign, he replied: "Over what?"
It's a stand-off over an investigation that has backed up a claim in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics that the Prime Minister's former staffer, Jason Ede, helped blogger Cameron Slater get SIS information to embarrass Phil Goff back in 2011. The SIS information contradicted Mr Goff's claim that he hadn't been briefed over alleged Israeli spies masquerading as tourists in New Zealand.
Anyone who reads the report, or even the news reports form it, will see that what I wrote in my book was completely correct," Mr Hager said.
Mr Key disagrees, saying: "The report is absolutely crystal clear. It says I played no role. It says in so much as my staff ever had a conversation with Cameron Slater it was totally above board and legitimate. It didn't compromise anything."
The report finds no collusion between the SIS and the Prime Minister's office. However spy watchdog Cheryl Gwyn, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, says Jason Ede "disclosed the information to Mr Slater for political purposes" after being told about it by Mr Key's deputy chief of staff, Phil de Joux, who was also Mr Key's liaison with the SIS.
"Political staffers and politicians talk to the media all of the time," Mr Key said.