By Patrick Gower
Labour leader David Shearer says his party has “asked the question” of the Prime Minister, by claiming that John Key was recorded mentioning Kim Dotcom at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) before the date Mr Key says he first knew about the man behind Megaupload.
But an increasingly stressed Mr Shearer now faces serious questions himself. The central one is: was a recording actually made? Did the GCSB tape ever actually exist?
Mr Shearer claims it did, so 3 News asked Mr Shearer's Labour colleagues if they knew where the tape was.
Labour MP Trevor Mallard says he doesn’t know.
“I don't know if it does exist, I’ve seen no evidence of it existing - but I know John Key told lies,” he says.
And if Mr Shearer was looking for support and undivided loyalty, he didn't get it from leadership rival David Cunliffe.
“I haven't had that information - I’m not sure what information he's got,” Mr Cunliffe says. “I have no idea.”
In Parliament today, Mr Key implied Mr Shearer was backing away from his claim.
“Now he says it’s not about the video – apparently it's not about the video.”
Labour MP Andrew Little – another Labour leadership rival – thinks the tape has been deleted, but other Labour MPs aren't sure what is going on.
“I've had a gutsful in my career of talking about video tapes – believe you me,” says Shane Jones.
Darien Fenton says it’s a question “for Mr Key to answer”.
But Mr Shearer really did struggle to explain himself today.
“I am not going to be talking about my sources, thank you.”
What Mr Shearer is really missing in this saga is a smoking gun – a tape, evidence, proof – that will show the Prime Minister up. But Mr Shearer has largely failed on that front – and Mr Key knows it.