Prime Minister John Key is under investigation for refusing to release correspondence with a gossip columnist over Ponytailgate.
Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem stepped in after his office declined to make public conversations or messages with former New Zealand Herald writer Rachel Glucina over Auckland’s Cafe Rosie.
Wakem will probe the decision not to release any record of contact with Glucina – the cafe’s owners – or its employees.
Waitress Amanda Bailey complained Key had repeatedly pulled her ponytail as she worked at the cafe. She subsequently appeared in an interview – penned by Glucina – which Bailey says was published against her wishes. That led to questions about Glucina’s links to the National party. The Press Council later upheld complaints against the newspaper.
Paul McMahon – a Labour supporter and Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board chair – requested the information under the Official Information Act and complained to the Ombudsman in late May. He received a letter confirming the investigation on Monday.
After Bailey’s distress came to light in May Key was adamant he had ‘absolutely no part to play’ in the newspaper interview. Under questioning from the Greens in Parliament he confirmed he had no contact with Glucina’s Pink PR company – but would not answer questions about personal contact with the columnist.