Henry inquiry sought journalist’s phone records

The David Henry inquiry gets murkier – it requested information relating to internal calls made to and from Andrea Vance’s (Fairfax) office phone.

Leak probe sought reporter’s phone log

A government investigation into the leak of the GCSB report sought access to the phone records of the journalist who broke the story.

Parliamentary Service has previously admitted tracking the movements of Andrea Vance in an apparent bid to match her movements with those of UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne.

In response to questions from Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, Speaker David Carter confirmed yesterday that the Henry inquiry also asked for information relating to internal calls made to and from Vance’s office phone, as well as her building access data.

The phone line is paid for by Fairfax Media, the publisher of The Dominion Post.

Mr Carter said the request was declined but confirmed that Parliamentary Service handed over Vance’s swipe-card access records.

“The information related to a specific period that the inquiry identified. No general access to Andrea Vance’s building access records was granted.”

The Henry inquiry was fixated on a two week period, simply beacause it decided (with no evidence) that that was when the leak occurred and no wider context mattered.

Parliamentary Service has refused to say on whose authority the information was handed over, though the investigation was under the authority of Prime Minister John Key.

A spokeswoman said Mr Key was not aware of the request.

“The prime minister has previously said he, like most New Zealanders, values the role of the fourth estate around Parliament and he does not think it’s appropriate to start looking at their activities.”

Fairfax Media group executive editor Paul Thompson said the request was heavy-handed and highly prejudicial to the work of journalists and the maintenance of their sources.

“The media are meant to operate freely and independently and this attempt to find out who our reporter had been talking to really cuts across our role.”

Fairfax has already raised its concerns with Mr Carter and would speak with him further following the latest revelation, he said.

Serious stuff.

As flawed as they may, be having a free press is an essential part of a decent democracy.

And having public servants exceeding their authority, or Prime Minister’s department authorising excessive access to private information, is a very serious matter.

It’s not just about what happened here, it’s what else might happen if left unchecked.

A spokeswoman said Mr Key was not aware of the request.

“The prime minister has previously said he, like most New Zealanders, values the role of the fourth estate around Parliament and he does not think it’s appropriate to start looking at their activities.”

I hope to see a far stronger response than that from Key when he returns to New Zealand. Including some action.

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