NZ Justice Minister Resigns Amid Allegations Of Dirty Politics

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New book details practices by governing party she is linked with

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, September 1, 2014) – New Zealand's justice minister Judith Collins has resigned from cabinet amid allegations she is linked to a campaign of dirty tricks.

Opposition parties have been calling for Ms Collins' resignation since the release of a book two weeks ago detailing alleged dirty politics by the governing National Party.

Ms Collins had resisted the calls until today, when prime minister John Key spoke of new allegations.

"An email I've just released suggests Ms Collins may have been involved in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then-director of the Serious Fraud Office," he said.

Ms Collins was the minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

She has denied the allegations and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour, but said she had no choice but to step down.

"I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a minister inside cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a minister so I am able to clear my name," she said.

The book, Dirty Politics, is based on emails hacked from the computer of a right-wing blogger.

The book, and subsequent leaks of further emails by the hacker, allege the centre-right government of prime minister John Key and the blogger Cameron Slater co-operated in a sustained dirty tricks campaign.

Mr Key has repeatedly had to defend Ms Collins, who was identified as a link to Slater in some of the emails.

However, he said the Slater email that led to her resignation was one sent anonymously to his office and contained information that raised allegations about Ms Collins' conduct as a minister.

"The relationship between a minister and their chief executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government," he said.

Ms Collins, popularly nicknamed "Crusher", was previously tipped as a likely successor to Mr Key.

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