NZ Spy Agency GCSB Apologises to John Key for Errors: David Cunliffe Blames Prime Minister

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New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key Smiles After the General Election in Auckland.
IN PHOTO: New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011. Reuters/Stringer

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key admitted he was "embarrassed" with the errors committed by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).  The spy agency's director Ian Fletcher has apologised to Mr Key for the wrong reporting of figures involving the number of warrants and other surveillance approvals in 2013.

Mr Key told media he was embarrassed for New Zealand's spy agency and himself. He said the GCSB should have made their numbers right, but the spy agency has since assured him the system will be corrected.

In the spy agency's latest annual report, the GCSB said it had approved 34 warrants for surveillance between 2012 and 2013, but in reality, it issued 53 warrants. The initial report left out 19 approvals.

Mr Key's spokeswoman previously issued a statement which indicated the prime minister's disapproval of the errors. The spy agency has sent a letter to Mr Key and expressed its regret and advised that the mistakes came from wrong accounting. The GCSB assured Mr Key there was no intention of misleading the MPs in its earlier report.

The GCSB error has led the opposition to propose an independent investigation into the activities of New Zealand's spy agencies. Labour party leader David Cunliffe said the prime minister is the "sole person responsible" for the errors. It was "mind-boggling" for Mr Cunliffe as to how the spy agency had wrongly counted its issued surveillance approvals.

Mr Cunliffe added that a mere is "not enough." He said the GCSB's latest blunder will not do anything to restore public confidence and trust in the spy agency.

New Zealand Greens party co-leader Russel Norman remarked that the GCSB has committed another serious mistake which prompted questions of the agency's ability to perform its duties.

However, Mr Key commended GCSB Director Ian Fletcher for doing an "outstanding" job, and the latest error will not change that fact.

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