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'Teapot tape' saga ends

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2016

The "teapot tape" saga has finally ended with acceptance by Prime Minister John Key that cameraman Bradley Ambrose didn't deliberately record the conversation Mr Key had with John Banks during the 2011 election campaign.

At the time, Mr Key said Mr Ambrose had deliberately recorded the conversation Mr Key had with the then leader of the ACT Party in an Auckland cafe.

Mr Key likened it to the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and the "teapot tape" made headlines ahead of the general election.

Mr Ambrose said he accidentally left his camera case, with a microphone in it, on a table in the cafe.

Mr Ambrose launched a defamation action against Mr Key in December 2013, suing him for $1.25 million. A two-week hearing was due to take place next month.

An agreed statement between the two was released by Mr Key's office on Monday, and the proceedings have been settled.

The statement acknowledges that Mr Key's comments caused harm to Mr Ambrose, personally and professionally.

"The comments reflected Mr Key's honestly held views at the time," the statement said.

"Mr Key and Mr Ambrose have met to discuss the events of that day. Mr Key now accepts that Mr Ambrose did not deliberately record the conversation, or otherwise behave improperly.

"Mr Ambrose now accepts that Mr Key believed that the conversation had been deliberately recorded at the time Mr Key made his statements.

"The proceedings relating to these statements has been settled."


* November 11, 2011: Prime Minister John Key meets with then-ACT Party leader John Banks in a cafe in the Auckland suburb of Newmarket. There is a photo opportunity for media before the two politicians have a private conversation. Cameraman Bradley Ambrose inadvertently leaves a microphone on the table and the conversation is recorded

* November 2011: In the days following the meeting between Key and Banks, Key makes allegedly defamatory statements about Ambrose on three different occasions

* December 2013: Ambrose launches defamation action against Key and is seeking $1.25 million in damages

* March 2015: Courts confirm the defamation action is heading to trial

* Monday: A settlement is reached between Key and Ambrose. A two-week trial scheduled to begin in April avoided.

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