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PM Says 'No Intention To Mislead'

The Prime Minister has told the House that she had no intention of misleading the public over her claim that former TVNZ newsreader, John Hawkesby, had been paid a million dollars after his acrimonious departure.

Mrs Shipley said that last Thursday, IRN and TVNZ had reported the Prime Minister said told TVNZ staff that she had made up the comments referring to John Hawkesby.

The Prime Minister said that she did not recall making the comments to "Helen Clark, sorry Linda Clark, Freudian slip." Mrs Shipley said there had been a lighthearted conversation and flippant remarks and a more serious conversation regarding the Hawkesby comments, but at no time did she recall saying 'I made it up'.

Mrs Shipley told the House that some time ago she had asked Tony Ryall to make some inquiries about the Hawkesby deal because of public concerns about such payments. Mrs Shipley said that the Minister told her orally that negotiations were underway and gave a range of figures and this is what she had based her comments on.

Mrs Shipley said she immediately apologised to Mr Hawkesby upon discovering she was wrong and that she had no intention of misleading public when making the comments.

The Prime Minister made her anger at the media coverage of the report clear saying repeatedly that neither IRN nor TVNZ had contacted her or her staff for her side of the story before running it. Mrs Shipley also said that she had not talked about comments made after the Crossfire show and she wondered who had been telling who and what exactly they had been saying.

As it was a personal explanation, there were no speeches in reply.

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