Key’s comments expose Saudi sheep scandal

After weeks of misleading statements, it’s time the Government comes clean about the Saudi sheep scandal, the Green Party said today.

“It’s clear that Murray McCully and John Key knew the supposed legal threat was completely empty all along. But they still used this empty legal threat to justify spending $11.5 million on establishing a sheep farm in a Saudi desert,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

“We need the truth about whether Foreign Minister Murray McCully deliberately mislead Parliament and the New Zealand public. This is what the Prime Minister’s comments as reported by the National Business Review today suggest.

“When asked about why he chose to spend $11.5 million on flying sheep for Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf, Murray McCully is on the record saying ‘I am satisfied that we would never have done so had we not been advised that the [$30 million legal] claim had some prospect of success’.

“It’s crystal clear that both Murray McCully and John Key knew that actually there was no prospect of success because Mr Al Khalaf did not have a legal case against the New Zealand government.

“Why was Murray McCully talking about ‘the exposure of the New Zealand Government to a substantial claim for damages’ when it’s clear from John Key’s comments that there was no cause of action for a claim for damages, because the legal facts did not exist?

“John Key needs to come clean over allegations that the Cabinet papers don’t even mention a legal threat. If that’s the case, then he has been misleading the public too.

“Today’s revelations from the Prime Minister are further evidence that Murray McCully may have mislead Cabinet, Parliament, and the New Zealand public.

“The scale of Murray McCully’s deception, which the Prime Minister is now looking complicit to, would normally lead to immediate sacking.

“At the heart of this shambolic situation is the Government’s blinkered desire to sign a free trade deal with Gulf states, whatever the financial, ethical, and legal cost,” Mr Shaw said.