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English Elastic with the Truth

3 September 2003 Media Statement

English Elastic with the Truth

Bill English's increasingly desperate attempts to create a beat-up around the release of documents related to the November/December 2000 suspected contamination of corn seed, plumbed new depths in Parliament today, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said.

Mr English referred to a list of documents that he said were withheld at the time other documents on this issue were released in July 2002. This list refers to the documents released to Mr Stephen Price in November 2002.

Mr Price's request was much wider than the events of November/December 2000. In fact nearly half of the documents date from after when Nicky Hager’s book was published in July 2002. Other documents include duplicates of material that were released in July 2002, and material only indirectly related to the events of November/December 2000.

"Mr English is the person who is engaging in calculated deceit," Marian Hobbs said. "He knows full well that the release of documents in July 2002 related to the events of November/December 2000. The exercise of compiling documents was done under extreme time pressure, and accompanied by journalists staking out my office. It involved bringing together an enormous amount of material from a number of departments. It was inevitable that some documents would not be picked up, but that hardly amounts to calculated deceit.

"The worst example of Mr English's deceit was his tabling of an e-mail from Michael Wintringham from the SSC, which he suggested had been withheld in July 2002.

"That e-mail is dated 12 July 2002 at 4.18pm. Staff in my office had already begun copying the material to be released at that time. Mr English is a desperate man, who is being highly elastic with the truth."


ENDS

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