TIM PANKHURST Dominion Post
TIM PANKHURST: Editor of the Dominion Post
It has come to my attention that the Editor of the Dominion Post is telling people that the initiative to end my association as a columnist with his paper came from me. Readers might care to read the enclosed unexpected letter from him to me dated 28 November 2006 and my reply to him dated 3 December 2006.
November 28 2006
Dr Michael Bassett
17 Stilwell Road
Mt Albert AUCKLAND 1003
From time to time we review our sections and columns and have made several changes this year, for example introducing Richard Long.
Accordingly, we no longer wish to continue your column.
We have to keep offering fresh comment to our readers and your views are now well known.
It has also been suggested by several readers that you are compromised -one suggested your column should be renamed fifth- in view of your undeclared advice to Don Brash on his pivotal Orewa speech. I note that you do not dispute this and that you have also given advice to other political leaders.
In that case, I believe this should have been declared and both you and The Dominion Post are exposed to duplicity.
Thank you for your contribution over some time now, but it's time to move on and I trust we can do so amicably.
We would be happy to consider one-off contributions from you on relevant subjects and to approach you for comment on relevant
Best wishes for the future.
3 December 2006
The Dominion Post,
P.O. Box 3740,
Dear Mr Pankhurst,
I have received your ungracious letter. I am happy to "move on" and had been considering doing so for some time, as you will recall from earlier correspondence both with you and your deputy.
However, I cannot allow your suggestion that I had been duplicitous to go unchallenged. I have never made a secret of the fact that I have been a friend of Don Brash's since 1967, or that I have been in intermittent contact despite our political differences over the years. I also had Helen Clark and Phil Goff as students of mine, and there have been many contacts with them. Mike Williams of the Labour Party wrote a thesis under my supervision, too. I have always been available to answer questions on a free and friendly basis, even for Dominion Post journalists. The suggestion that I wrote either of Don Brash's Orewa speeches is preposterous. Hager says that Brash himself wrote one of them. I did answer questions on one of the five points Brash wanted to touch on in his first Orewa speech because after ten years on the Waitangi Tribunal I possessed some expert knowledge on the Treaty. I provided the information when asked, and I suggested where further material might be gleaned. Soon after that speech Dr Brash told the press about those who had helped check its accuracy, mentioning my name. It appeared in several newspapers and a monthly magazine. Nobody, least of all an editor, has any excuse for being unaware of this fact. Suggestions of "duplicity" are therefore completely wrong.
By now you must be realising that there are many mistakes in Hager's book, and it was unwise - even unprofessional - to treat its contents as gospel, or as ammunition to ambush people who had not yet had an opportunity to check his assertions. For your interest, there is one whole page that claims to be based on emails of mine to Don Brash, that certainly didn't come from me. Several emails, whoever wrote them, are products either of Nicky Hager's carelessness, or someone's fevered imagination. I have kept my email correspondence with politicians, so I know what I am talking about. I have never possessed sufficient information about the internal workings of the National Caucus to advise anyone about its members, let alone suggest a campaign strategy.