The Soap Box: Time for Hager to put a name to some of his sources

Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 4 April 2017, 5:15AM

There was just one topic at Bill English's post Cabinet press conference and he drawled on for more than 40 minutes telling us there wasn't going to be an inquiry into the extravagant claims made in Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's book.

Unless something new comes to light, which by law the NZDF would have to investigate, that would seem to be the end of the matter.

The top brass briefed English in his ninth-floor Beehive office but more importantly showed him a video of the SAS attack.  The PM didn't say how much of the video he watched by it was enough to convince him that our soldiers did everything in their power to ensure there weren't civilian casualties.

He was impressed by their restraint, whatever that means. The thing is we'll never know. First of all we heard NZDF boss Tim Keating last week denying any wrong doing, but that would of course be expected of him, defending his troops on the ground.

Now we're being told to trust English, to accept his word. That's always a difficult proposition when it comes to a politician but in fairness if he'd seen disturbing footage, surely in all good conscience, he'd be duty bound to call an inquiry.

It's a pity though that he didn't call in, say someone like the independent Solicitor General, to reinforce his views and lay all our minds at rest.

It was never going to be easy for Nicky Hager to force the Government's hand on this one. He's caused so much political mayhem in the past that they'd never be of a mind to lend any weight to his claims.

Indeed Bill English, who more than likely hasn't read the book, nevertheless now has a firm opinion on it.  The allegations made in it are wide ranging and fundamentally flawed, he declared.

So that's it then, well not if Hager can help it. He wasted no time in telling us English has now joined the people trying to hide and dodge over what happened. He's been shown selective information by an interested party and has kowtowed to military pressure, it's the tail wagging the dog, the author says.

But perhaps it's time for Hager's bite to become worse than his bark and put a name to some of the military sources quoted in his book. If they really are as upset as he says they are, then surely they'd want to set the record straight.

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