By Travellerev in cooperation with Ben Vidgen
An interesting question was raised by a lady who sent me a letter she received from the department of Justice.
Anita Boccino, now and for many years a New Zealander but originally a US citizen wanted an answer to a very simple question and decided to request a freedom of information request to the department of Justice just after the last elections and the response was baffling. The Question: Does John Key have dual citizenship and is the other citizenship that of the United States?
First of all, my knowledge of New Zealand law is limited so I decided to share the information (with permission from Anita whose name I also divulge here with her permission also) with non other than investigative Journalist Ben Vidgen from the Postman.
Ben Vidgen commented as follows:
- The letter is in contravention with NZ law as the ministry who received the letter is required to forward it to the ministry or person responsible within the government who is tasked with the task of maintaining the knowledge with regards to the request. In this case that would have been the Ministry for Immigration or John Key himself as the official in Government most likely to have that information.
- The letter was send out on the 19th day of the 20 day period in which they are required to respond to OIA requests.
The delay technique which John Key admitted to using today but which has been known to us as investigative Bloggers/Journalists for a long time indicates that they wanted to put as much time as they legally could between the request and the response. John Key stated the government uses this technique if it is deemed in the best interest of the government but in this case it must surely mean in the best interest of John Key himself which begs the question: What is he hiding?
- The letter was signed by Tania Warburton who is the Acting Chief Legal Council. For those who don’t know that is the office embedded in the ministry of Justice which advises the government in matters legal. Tania Warburton has many skills and has had many positions very close to the epicentre of power. Here is her resumé according to linked:
Tania Warburton’s Experience
Acting Chief Legal Counsel
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; Government Administration industry
January 2014 – Present (10 months)
Deputy Chief Legal Counsel
Government Agency; 1001-5000 employees; Government Administration industry
April 2013 – Present (1 year 7 months) Wellington
Acting Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet
Cabinet Office, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
October 2012 – April 2013 (7 months) Wellington
On secondment from Crown Law
Legal Services industry
June 1999 – April 2013 (13 years 11 months) Crown Law Office
January 1997 – May 1999 (2 years 5 months) Wellington
Worked for Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, Chief Justice
That is a very powerful lady responding to a very simple OIA request. What is more Anita had been put through to her when she tried to enquire as how to go about the request without telling her what the request would be and Mrs Warburton explained to Anita in detail how to go about it. So what she did was instruct Anita to write to her and she responded with a letter 19 days later while breaking the law with regards to OIA requests depending on Anita’s limited knowledge. She specifically broke the law’s section 13 which reads as follows;
It is the duty of every department, Minister of the Crown, and organisation to give reasonable assistance to a person, who—
(a)wishes to make a request in accordance with section 12; or
(b)in making a request under section 12, has not made that request in accordance with that section; or
(c)has not made his request to the appropriate department or Minister of the Crown or organisation or local authority,—
to make a request in a manner that is in accordance with that section or to direct his request to the appropriate department or Minister of the Crown or organisation or local authority”.
So her response: “I have no grounds for believing that information is held by another department or minister in its/his or official capacity.” In fact lets zoom in even further “its/his or official capacity”. is disingenuous at a bare minimum but also in contravention of the law with regards to OIA’s.
Not only that but with this answer she also gives away who she might have approached for an answer if she had followed the law. No less than the Prime Minister, John Key would have been obliged to answer that question honestly if she had followed the law and forwarded the OIA request to him.
Ben Vidgen in his piece details his research in to the right to own property in the US if not a US citizen and there clearly is space for foreigners to own property in the US under certain conditions which for a rich man like John Key can easily be met so owning a place in Hawaii is not necessarily an indication he might be a dual citizen. Please honour the content and not Ben’s writing style. Dyslexia is a horrible affliction and ridiculing him for his writing rather than taking in the content says more about those doing the ridiculing than Ben’s sharp investigative mind!
One word of warning: If John Key has double citizenship he might not be breaking New Zealand law although I would love to hear from someone about this who is in the know but he may very well be breaking US law which states clearly that US citizens are not allowed to serve in or conspire with foreign governments.
I think that Anita raised a valid question. I think the New Zealand population has a right to an answer. If John Key has sworn allegiance to another country we should know. Especially with New Zealand turning into the 51 state of the US at an alarming rate it might very well be us who have to fear betrayal if John Key does have dual citizenship and not the US.
So here is what you can do:
You can write a freedom of information request:
Here is a sample to copy and paste as written by Ben Vidgen:
To the Ministry of Justice (email@example.com ),
To the Ministry of Immigration (Street address:15 Stout Street
Wellington 6011 New Zealand).
To Ministry of Internal Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Under the official information Act 1982 (the Act) I seek information as to whether the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key, holds dual US citizenship and Or is a citizen of the United States.
As pursuant to the Act I require this question is answered within twenty working days, in accordance with section 13 of the Act (“to make a request in a manner that is in accordance with that section or to direct his request to the appropriate department or Minister of the Crown or organisation or local authority”)..
Yours Sincerely (name insert).
Here is a letter you can send to the Ombudsman:
To the Ombudsman email@example.com
In accordance with Ombudsman Act 1975 I seek assistance in the Ministry of Justice’s refusal to answer an Official Information Act made 27 September, by Anita Bocchino, to the Ministry of Justice and replied on October 13 (subsequently released for public dissemination by Anita Bocchino), as follows;
“Dear Ms Bocchhino
Thanks you for your email of 27 September 2014 requesting under the official information Act 1982 (the Act) information about the Prime Minister the Rt Hon John Key. You asked whether Mr Key holds dual US citizenship and is also a citizen of the United States.
I am refusing to answer your question under section 18(g) of the act on the basis that the ministry does not hold this information and we have no grounds for believing that information is held by another department or minister in its/his or official capacity.
Tania Warburton Acting Chief Legal Counsel”.
I believe in accordance with the Electoral Act (Ministry of Internal Affairs), the Immigration Act, the Official Information Act, the reply is in incorrect, misleading and contravene Section 13 of the Official Information Act 1982.
Your assistance in this matter and getting the required ministry or bodies to answer this OIA, in accordance with the Act, would be greatly Appreciated (insert name)