The ripples of the controversial book "Dirty Politics" continue to haunt the ruling party of New Zealand. The latest being the demand to subject Prime Minister John Key to a probe for his practice of deleting text messages after reading them.

The opposition Green Party has complained that the act of deleting text messages is an attempt by the PM to destroy official records. As per law, violators of the Public Records Act can face penalty up to $5,000. The demand for an official probe on Mr Key came from the Green Party MP James Shaw, who wanted Chief Archivist Marilyn Little to investigate the prime minister for destroying text messages.

The issue became controversial when Mr Key admitted in November that he deleted all messages sent by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, who was castigated in the book "Dirty Politics," for having worked as a hired blogger of the National Party with the intent of maligning rival parties and leaders, reported Stuff.Co.Nz.

The Green Party approached the chief archivist, citing that Mr Key's act of deleting messages amounted to destruction of public records. The Green Party leaders want all text messages to elected public servants to be placed in public domain and treated them at par with emails or other forms of correspondence.

Breaking Public Records

In her response, the chief archivist endorsed the demand and agreed to carry out a review of record-keeping practices for Mr Key's texts between November 2008 and November 2014. Shaw urged the Archives head to make Mr Key's texts available to the public and demanded guidelines for that. Meanwhile, a spokesman of the prime minister clarified that the PM will cooperate with the review, but pointed out that there had been no advice from the chief archivist or the Department of Internal Affairs in the matter of retaining the text messages.

Limited Review

The chief archivist has also ruled out any scrutiny of private mobile phones or devices and personal text messages on ministerial phones. They are excluded "from the scope of this review" as it is a grey area, she said. Mr Key had been maintaining that much of his communication with blogger Slater was in the capacity as National Party leader, not as prime minister. That is why he is not supposed to disclose those messages. The chief archivist sets standards and guidelines for public offices, local authorities and organisations under the Public Records Act. Violation of the Act by individuals can invite fines up to $5,000, whereas, if the breach is committed by organisations, the fine can go up to $10,000, reported TV Nz.

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