The taxpayer will not foot the bill for "Teapot Tapes" cameraman Bradley Ambrose's legal costs – but has already paid for the Prime Minister's lawyer.
The freelance newsman settled a legal dispute with John Key, who accused him of "News of the World" style tactics in 2011 after he accidentally recorded the now-infamous "cup of tea" meeting with John Banks.
Key yesterday admitted he was wrong and agreed to pay Ambrose's legal costs. A spokeswoman said that he would use money from a $2.2m Parliamentary Leaders fund.
However, the fund is not allowed to be used for the purposes of settling a legal dispute and so Mr Key has backed down.
In a statement this afternoon, a spokeswoman for Mr Key confirmed: "The legal advice and representation costs incurred by Mr Key in achieving the settlement will be met by the National Leader's Office."
"The costs involved in the settlement with Mr Ambrose will not be met by the taxpayer. Funds will be raised via the National Party or by private contributions for this purpose."
However, Key has already used the Leaders Budget to pay for his own legal costs, after seeking permission from Parliament's Speaker in 2013. That doesn't break any rules.
Parliamentary Service – which administers that fund – won't disclose how much was paid out, and yesterday Mr Key said he didn't know.
The row was sparked after Mr Ambrose left a microphone on the table where Mr Key and Mr Banks where sharing a cup of tea in a Newmarket cafe during an election campaignn media stunt.