Storm in a teapot transforms New Zealand's sleepy election season
It was a lacklustre election campaign whose result seemed a foregone conclusion: victory for the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, at the polls this Saturday. Then a freelance cameraman left a tape recorder running on a café table where Mr Key was meeting an ally, unleashing "Cuppagate" – a row about politics, privacy and media ethics.
Bradley Ambrose says he inadvertently left the device behind, inside a bag, following a photo-opportunity with Mr Key and John Banks, an ACT party candidate. The Prime Minister, however, has complained to police that a private conversation, held over a cup of tea, was illegally recorded, and has accused the media of "UK-style News of the World tabloid tactics".
Neither the Herald on Sunday newspaper nor the TV3 channel, both of which have copies of the "teapot tape", has released its contents. But Winston Peters, leader of the rival New Zealand First party, who appears to have a transcript, claims the two men criticised the ACT leader, Don Brash, and made disparaging remarks about New Zealand First's ageing supporters.
It's hardly sensationalist stuff, and – despite dark hints by the Herald on Sunday – is unlikely to alter the election outcome. But the row has dominated the headlines, frustrating Mr Key's crusade to paint himself as a safe pair of hands at a time of economic uncertainty, as well as attempts by the opposition leader, Phil Goff, to win over voters by dyeing his hair and donning motorbike leathers.
This week police are expected to execute search warrants on the Herald and TV3, as well as two news organisations that interviewed Mr Ambrose about "Teapotgate". Mr Ambrose, for his part, has accused Mr Key of defaming him. Tomorrow he is going to court to seek a ruling on whether the café conversation was private.
Opinion polls suggest Mr Key's centre-right National Party, which has governed in coalition with ACT and two smaller parties since 2008, will win an outright majority. Nevertheless, the Nationals may need ACT, and the event in the Auckland café was designed to encourage voters to support Mr Banks.
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Perez Hilton apologises for publishing Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Jennifer Lawrence 'nude photo hacker' claims there are hundreds more celebrity images to be published
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say singer's representatives
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...